A DREAM COME TRUE
By Chidimma Benson October 14, 2022.
The nature of dramatic productions which young people are exposed to matter much. Dramatic media like the stage, television, cinema, radio and computer, have the potential to make, mar, mold, remold, build up or destroy a child, depending on the contents streamed from them. Media contents are known to impart indelibly on the minds of their consumers. A production may be purposed for entertainment, but in the course of being entertained, children within the impressionable ages could learn unintended negative or positive behaviors with life-long consequences.
My Encounter with The Sound of Music
I was about ten years old when my younger sister and I were introduced to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music by an amiable neighbor who later became my English language teacher and a friend. Back then as a young student, I had much pleasure being around this my teacher, quietly learning some fascinating things about her, asking her questions that hinge on English language and also doing whatever she wanted me to do for her. My knowledge of her is one with a heart of gold like Maria in The Sound of Music whose influence on my life I am about to narrate.
“Individual differences” can make a difference in the way two siblings respond to a movie played before them. When The Sound of Music was played before my sister and me, my response to the movie was not the same as my sister’s. While she was busy merely watching what was before us, I was out in an imaginary world getting so captivated by the sweet-sounding orchestral introduction streaming from the television. In spite of its lengthy duration, my enthusiasm for the movie was sustained till it ended. I cannot even remember whether my sister was able to watch to the end because I could not take my eyes off the television. As soon as I heard the title song “The Sound of Music”, I felt a sudden urge to learn it, and I began to learn it when the movie ended.
With rapt attention, I was able to download as much of the movie’s sights and sounds as I could into my memory. It is not an exaggeration to say that the beautiful scenery, actors and their actions, singers and their singing, dialogues and the orchestral sounds made me feel a glorious presence from the television. I wanted to own a copy of the musical. At the end of the movie, I noticed that my musical, verbal-linguistic, visual-spatial, and bodily-kinesthetic abilities all began to show up. Maria’s triple threat skills got my complete attention and admiration. Currently as an adult, I get very much amazed whenever I ruminate over how this musical could, in the space of three hours, unearth my innate abilities which both my parents and I never knew were there. Although I did not know the names of these inherent endowments then, I was sure of their presence within me after watching the movie.
It was the music in me that opened my heart to appreciate the melodic flow of Maria’s voice, and enjoy the charming harmony of the orchestra employed. I was able to recognize that Maria’s dictions were superb and desired to sing like her. I began visualizing myself singing the way she sang in the movie. I am excited to say that this dream came true when, accompanied on a keyboard by my son, I publicly performed “The Sound of Music” during my master’s program. It was a very satisfying and heart-warming performance for me. I worked hard at it and got what I targeted. It was a dream come true.
I fell deeply in love with The Sound of Music not knowing that everything was a divine orchestration. My father was a musicologist, composer, lyricist, performer, an organist and a trumpeter before I came in contact with this movie. However, none of his musical activities or materials was able to move me. It was only after the movie had musically circumcised my heart with its powerful impacts that I began showing interest in my father’s music archives; repertoires and audio works. And as time went on, I enthusiastically received my first formal musical training as a chorister and a student of Music from him. He was then our college Music teacher and choir director. I was very active in his choir, partaking in solo, duet and choral competitions. This was just a tip of the iceberg in my pursuit of music. The main body was yet to manifest.
The divinely-orchestrated influence of The Sound of Music was strongly being exerted on me as I began to develop in age. I tried and obtained a cassette-recorded audio copy of the songs so that I could learn all the songs via a cassette player. It was easier for me to learn songs with this method than from the television. For the songs that gave me trouble with respect to the correct lyrics, I fabricated words that had similar sounds to replace them, even if they made no contextual sense. My siblings were somewhat amazed at my passion for the movie but kindly respected it. I was very thankful and felt free performing the songs before them, anyhow. In a record time, I had most of the songs in my memory. Having learnt a good number of them, I went on to learn the dialogues and tried my best to perform the roles of all the characters as I could visualize were done in the movie.
Private learning and performances of the songs in The Sound of Music continued to be part of my hobby at the secondary level of my education until I graduated. Ironically, I graduated as a science student. Proud and satisfied with my good grades, I began preparing to get into the university to study Pharmacy or Industrial Chemistry. While this plan was on, I got married at age 21 and had my first baby at 22. Notwithstanding my changed marital status, I continued to enjoy the movie like the little girl I was when I first watched it.
The Sound of Music was the very first movie I purchased after I got married. In my leisure, I took time and finetuned the songs I had learnt previously, and then moved on to mastery-learning of the movie’s dialogues. My house chores were never an obstacle. I was simply acting in line with the passionate promptings of my spirit. As year succeeded to year, I continued to watch and re-watch the movie, learning every lesson I could learn from it each time. I do not know why till date no other movie has had a powerful influence on me the way Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music does.
Later on, as an adult, a desire to craft my own musical dramatic works began to creep in gradually as I continued to suck the juices contained in my best movie. In the course of events, I was divinely commanded to go and study Music in a college of Education. I happily did, forsaking all my plans to study Pharmacy or Industrial Chemistry. I went through my program uninterrupted and graduated with a first-class degree in Music and Education.
My Freelance Teaching Era
After my first degree, I got into freelance teaching of theory and applied Music that paid off for me in various ways. While in that, the desire to become a librettist became very obvious. I needed to study playwriting so that I could merge it with my musical compositional skills and write my own musical plays. For this reason, I went in for a master’s program in the Department of Theater and Film Studies, University of Port Harcourt, and graduated with an M.A. in Theater-in-Education. The year following, I enrolled for a doctoral program, and obtained a Ph.D. in the same field, within three years. With these two later degrees, I got equipped to begin writing musical dramatic works.
My Writing and Publishing Journey
I quit my freelance teaching job in 2019 and began writing manuscripts. By the first week of September 2021, I had written eight manuscripts. I became restless about just writing manuscripts, I wanted them published. I desired foreign publications and earnestly prayed to my Lord Jesus to open a door for that, even if it required doing it online. Three days after I prayed the prayer, my younger sister, unaware of my prayer, sent me a link on self-publishing with Amazon.com. I read all that was involved and saw that it was not easy. It required determination. Thereafter, I swung into gathering tutorials and worked day and night for three months learning to become a self-publisher of both eBook and paperback versions. My efforts paid off when, in December of 2021, I successfully published my first musical drama titled, Queen Esther’s Sacrifice, in both versions.
After Queen Esther’s Sacrifice, I went on to publish another musical play, Virtue Versus Vices, in January of 2022. I put all adverts on hold and went on to work on the other six manuscripts. While finetuning my third manuscript that became Theatrical Classroom Lesson Plans in February of 2022, I was given two more titles –Golden Jubilee Reunion at Christmas in Alaska and Pearl City Wedding Trio- to develop and publish later. I proceeded to finetune another musical play titled, It’s About Jesus, publishing its two versions in March.
In April, I published another musical drama titled, The Benson Boys. But while preparing this fourth manuscript, I received in my spirit that I would have to write and publish Golden Jubilee Reunion at Christmas in Alaska in May. I commenced writing it three days to the end of April and completed the manuscript on May 15. I moved on to comb the work. Towards the ending of May, I did my utmost best and published the work in both electronic and paperback versions.
The final phase of my intoxication with The Sound of Music and my in-depth exploration of the movie gave birth to what I call the crux of the matter in my adventure with the movie. It was to critique this beautiful movie based on all it has done in me and all I have learnt from it. Despite the insignificant beginning of my romantic journey with this movie musical, I strongly believe that God schematized every event that took place in my life with respect to the movie. Before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, he knew me and programed a musical dramatic career for me. The month of June witnessed the meticulous preparation and publishing of my long-awaited A Critique of The Sound of Music.
I went into the reformatting, editing and finetuning of my Ph.D. thesis in July, publishing it as Total Theater Teaching Method later in the month. The nineth and the tenth books which are titled, Lessons and Insights from the Book of Esther and Pearl City Wedding Trio, were published in August and September, respectively. So far, I have authored six musical plays (Queen Esther’s Sacrifice, Virtue Versus Vices, It’s About Jesus, The Benson Boys, Golden Jubilee Reunion at Christmas in Alaska and Pearl City Wedding Trio), three educational resources (Theatrical Classroom Lesson Plans, A Critique of The Sound of Music and Total Theater Teaching Method) and one Christian religious nonfiction, Lessons and Insights from the Book of Esther. Passionately, all the ten books were published between December, 2021 and September, 2022.
I love what I am doing with all the knowledge and skills I have consciously and subconsciously acquired from The Sound of Music, in addition to my academic trainings. I was wired for a musical, theatrical and writing career before being born into the world. My early exposure to the movie helped in arousing my passionate for these fields such that when it was necessary that I leave the sciences, I happily did. I am now enjoying the good fruits of a good seed sowed many years back. Exciting! Alongside my musical plays published are about eighty songs and two instrumentals written by me.
In conclusion, I should add that inspiration without perspiration is a daydream, and perspiration without inspiration is a nightmare. Therefore, once one receives an inspiration to achieve something, he should diligently swing into all necessary actions to make it happen, trusting Christ for favor and victory all the way through to the moment of accomplishment. My sole authorship of a good number of musical plays is a dream come true for me.