Why Ryan believes in sharing what he knows

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda - The Philippine Star

Ryan Cayabyab isn’t called “The Maestro” for nothing. For almost two decades, he served as an assistant professor at the UP College of Music. Ryan, or “Mr. C” as he is more famously known, is a big believer in education, and has always been generous about sharing his knowledge of music with others.

He enjoys being a mentor, whether in or out of the classroom. One place he gets to be the latter is at the Elements Music Camp, of which he is the artistic director. Organized by 7101 Music Nation, the Elements Music Camp gathers aspiring and professional singers and songwriters from various disciplines and provides them with a venue to learn, collaborate, interact and create music in a natural setting. In the camp, Mr. C. works alongside other mentors, which in the past has included the likes of Gary Valenciano, Raimund Marasigan of Sandwich, Jay Durias of South Border, singer-songwriters Ogie Alcasid, Noel Cabangon, Gary Granada, Ebe Dancel, Aiza Seguerra, Nyoy Volante, ABS-CBN Philharmonic conductor Gerard Salonga, The APO’s Jim Paredes, and award-winning composers Rey Valera, Trina Belamide, Jungee Marcelo and Jonathan Manalo, and musician and record producer Jimmy Antiporda.

Mr. C has always been a big believer in sharing what he knows. “I highly value education and to pass on to the next generation everything I know, I believe it is an important task in nation-building. The next generation must be better than mine so they have to be informed about what we have experienced and learned from.”

He doesn’t mind passing on to the next generation of Pinoy musicians the knowledge and skills he has learned. Being a mentor is a big part of who he is. “I am a teacher. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing confident Pinoy musicians armed with tools and the enthusiasm to further their craft and succeeding and reaching heights higher than what we have reached.”

Outside of a formal classroom setting, the Elements Music Camp is perhaps the best place for such an exchange to happen.

The format has changed a bit, from mostly lectures to a lot of panel discussions and hands-on exercises for the aspiring songwriters. As it now stands, the camp is designed to give participants more time to exchange ideas after being presented with a barrage of tools and practical tips in various aspects of the songwriting craft: The music part, the lyrics part, arranging, networking, recording, technology, business concerns, copyright, etc.

According to Ryan, the Elements Music Camp was a dream program wherein the projected end result after many years (say 10 years) would have the entire performing, visual and cinema arts gathering in one huge festival in Dumaguete, but with songwriters in the first year, singers and songwriters in the second year, then singers, songwriters and dance artists in the next years.

“After that, we would then add theater arts and visual arts and cinema arts in the years following and on the 10th year, we envisioned it to be a full blown arts festival,” he says.

But then the game plan changed. “After the second camp (songwriters and singers in two different tracks), we decided that we will concentrate on singer-songwriters. I made a pitch to discover and put in the camp songwriters who sing their songs. I believe that the next big wave in Philippine music is the resurgence of the singer-songwriter, following in the footsteps of Gary Granada, Noel Cabangon, Joey Ayala, Jim Paredes, Freddie Aguilar, Rey Valera, Odette Quesada, Cecile Azarcon, Chito Miranda, Ebe Dancel, Gab Alipe, Quest, Gloc9, Jay Durias and so on.”

Within just six years of the first camp, they are already seeing these new singer-songwriters emerge to become the game-changers that the camp organizers predicted they would be: Bullet Dumas, Davey Langit and other alumni of the Elements Music Camp. Even the current toast of the songwriting industry, the duo Thyro Alfaro and Yumi Lacsamana, are Elements Music Camp alumni.

It takes time for the seeds to grow and eventually bear fruit, but just seeing the Elements Music Camp alumni performing in venues around the city makes Mr. C and company feel that they’ve done what they set out to do six years ago.

“It’s so good to see them, confident and proud of what they are doing and making a go of their music performance careers,” he notes. “There is now a large community of singer-songwriters who get together, supporting each other and most often, collaborating on projects together.”
Eventually, this community, or talent base, will be made available to music consumers, producers, and whoever needs to tap into it. It is a goal that began with a dream, and yes, even in the music industry, dreams do come true — and this is where it starts.

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