Ramiah Migelle Tolentino Batara

President and Euphonium player
Broadrick Concert Band 

Saturdays started at 6 AM – just enough time to energise but also to recover after last evening’s practice. Companionless breakfasts were the norm – my family weren’t the most eager to join me at first blush of the morning. One last check of the timeline, the inside of my tote and the reporting time, I’d be out of the door just as the sun rose. 

The otherwise chaotic atmosphere of the school had died down. What was left were only the remains of the week: volleyballs lying around from the last game, water bottles left by rushing students and surprisingly, instruments which lay on the band room floor. Though early, I was never the earliest,  greeted by members who’d seem to arrive even before the sun was out- it was just one of the four Saturday practices leading to SYF. 

Compared to those who were able to sleep in till noon or get an early start to school work, my schedule was often packed with practices, events and of course, planning. Being president wasn’t a breeze or a stroll in the park, but it was rewarding and humbling. Despite being met with struggles and challenges, with the help of my instructors, teachers, members and of course, beloved friends I’d made along the way, my band leadership journey was truly a remarkable part of my secondary school journey. 

Drastic changes took place once Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed, the new normal was hard to adapt to, especially after seeing the sudden increase of events in the calendar. There were so many I’d never even been a part of, let alone know how to plan for. I was dumbfounded by all the criteria for planning and more importantly, following through with it. Time management was one of the many challenges. Looking back at all those practices that started five or ten minutes late, I’d often wonder why we were reminded so sternly of the time till our first camp execution. 

June cohesion camp – an unexpected “success”. Though not the most smooth sailing, I hold the camp dear to my heart. It was my EXCO’s first project that we planned without any help. We were convinced that we’d planned thoroughly enough (a bit too convinced I might say). I still remember realising how short 20 minutes was when games felt just a tad lacking in its duration. A few more minutes of fun wouldn’t hurt – right? Well, safe to say our estimations were off. In any band, every second is essential. The abundance of preparations that go into a single practice is evidence of that. 

So many things to be done in such a small bracket of time? I thought it was impossible, until it wasn’t. 

Making a beeline to the school hall each having our duties to fulfil, we’d often look like an ant colony bringing back food from our hunt whenever we would set up our venues. Instructions always included crossing different sections, whether you were part of the woodwinds or the brasses, you’d probably be holding on to a percussion instrument now and then. Similarly, stands and chairs weren’t the responsibility of one section – they were of the whole band. The camaraderie displayed in my CCA had always pulled on my heartstrings and was the reason for my perseverance against any obstacle. 

The companions I made throughout the journey, whether they were made in my wonderful section (euphonium-trombone!) or within my batchmates, and of course the juniors. I hold all of these friendships dear to my heart – all of their encouragement be it through the form of words, actions or even humorous sarcasm, they have always managed to put a smile on my face.  

My member’s opinions heavily impacted my actions, decisions and overall leadership. What is a band without the fellowship of different people? Comments, be they helpful, kind or somewhat insensitive, I tried to consider them in every aspect of our events. 

“Our Journey VIII” – The eighth edition of Broadrick Concert Band’s annual concert, is what I consider to be the pinnacle of my Presidency. Having 1 year of leadership experience covered, my EXCO and I were able to advance the band to greater heights and produce a truly enjoyable and exciting performance. The audience’s smiles, laughter and cheers – music to any performer’s ears, still echo in the memories of the night. 

Pinnacle, “the most successful point; the culmination”. Somehow, SYF doesn’t come to mind when this word is mentioned. 

Feeling stuck or simply moderate in your abilities is often overlooked as a “consequence” of success. Plagued with frustration and disappointment, the first few months of the year were unsatisfactory. No progress, no improvement. The routine I had strived for had finally borne its fruits – just not in the way I expected. 

The year 2023 leads me to my (doomed) fate to conquer the O-level examinations at the end of the year – piles of homework, heightened expectations and an anxious mind would often face head-on with the responsibility of being a CCA leader. But, this shed light on my juniors, those who could take charge of their section, take on challenges and most importantly take over my batch’s leadership. 

My dearest understudies allowed me to pass on my learnings and give fresh ideas to the brdband experience! Delighted to share my knowledge with them, this period of collaboration between the batches was one of my favourite experiences. 

I’m proud to say that the triumph of our SYF journey was not only the result of my batch’s leadership but also those of the next. A heartening transition to the band’s new set of EXCO members. 

Debriefs shared across the leaders encapsulated the days which led to SYF. Often bittersweet, they were embellished with words of encouragement, advice and of course, a call to action; to soar, to reach greater heights. 

To soar, to reach greater heights, to even dare to, I’ve realised is a courageous and commendable feat. Taking strength, without arrogance or boasting, and admitting you’ll at least try. This demeanour is what Broadrick Concert Band has left me, not prestige or stature.