Bedlam and Beauty

There are days when you just shake your head and laugh at the doors God opens. Last week we had one of those days. A teacher from the local district events planning committee asked our music school if we would like to perform by the lake near our school during the Loi Krathong festival. A free marketing event? Of course, we accepted.

We and our students began practicing songs and trying to think of what we would do for a stage and perhaps a sound system. We originally thought a few boards on blocks with a couple speakers borrowed from the church would suffice. But not quite sure, we contacted Ricardo’s friend, Nguan. He said, “If you want to make a positive impression, you need a real stage. If you want people to pity you and donate a few dollars, then play on boards.” He helped us contact a stage owner, and before we knew it we had a semi-professional stage set up with about 20 large speakers, stage lights, and even stage smoke! Overkill, you say? Not at all! Here in Thailand, events like this must be done big or not at all.

As it was, we planned too small. For just opposite our stage was another stage rented by a local university. It was at least three times as big and twice as loud! There were some times in our musical program that our audience had to read our lips and take it on faith that we were actually playing our instruments, because we could not be heard at all, though our speakers were turned up full blast!

However, during the breaks in our competition’s bedlam, the lovely music of Peace Music Academy was heard, and many people stopped to listen. We made many contacts that night, and gained some new students as a direct result. We also learned some valuable lessons about what it takes to make a good presentation here in Thailand—a big stage, big speakers, big faith, good program, and, oh yeah, good ear plugs!

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