Despite the challenges of adapting to a virtual setting, PhilPop 2021 DigiCamp: Music Breaking Borders has successfully integrated strategic innovations to its curriculum that would help aspiring singer-songwriters enhance their skillset and be part of a progressive learning experience.
Facilitated by some of the Philippines’ most respected educators, artists, and music leaders via Zoom, the country’s premier songwriting competition continues to hold a series of lectures and workshops for a period of four months (from July to October 2021) to put a spotlight on the next generation of OPM stars and future music industry fellows.
PhilPop Program and Marketing Manager Gab Cabangon reiterate that the team has always believed in the importance of opening several opportunities for the attendees to learn different aspects of music outside of songwriting. “We wanted to give the fellows options, guides, and tools that could help them with the direction on their music journey. The additional skills that they learn from this could help them evolve as practitioners in the music industry and further fuel their passion and love for the craft of music. Lastly, it wouldn’t hurt to also encourage songwriters to learn how to write songs to make society a better place for everyone.”
Marlon Barnuevo, PhilPop finalist 2013 and one of the resident coaches, considers PhilPop 2021 DigiCamp: Music Breaking Borders as one with the most mature curriculum for a songwriting camp. “Aside from the fact that most of the coaches came from the acclaimed Elements Songwriting Camp, all the past PhilPop boot camps provided valuable knowledge that allowed the teaching contents to be refined into what we are currently delivering now.”
Given the virtual format of this year’s boot camp, the coaches have tweaked some of their best practices to adhere to a more inclusive learning environment. As a college educator, Marlon has been doing full-online modality since the pandemic started, so there was a little adjustment on his part when it comes to delivering lectures for the PhilPop DigiCamp participants.
“PhilPop has also successfully adapted the synchronous-asynchronous method of delivering lectures, which is now a very common approach in all academic institutions around the country,” Marlon beams with pride. “What I had to adjust to, and what I sorely miss is the absence of face-to-face fellowship activities. In all the previous camps, it has always been a tradition to hold jamming sessions every evening over food and drinks. This form of fellowship is what’s missing in this year’s camp.”
In order to compensate for the need to make the songwriting mentorship more interesting, PhilPop coaches provided a workshop-based approach to give participants an inclusive and well-rounded perspective on different areas and fields in the music industry such as songwriting, music production, digital marketing, and advocacy writing—to name a few.
A first-time coach herself, University of the Philippines instructor and Baihana member Krina Cayabyab shares that aside from making slides and presenting music during her lecture, she made her sessions more informative by giving clearer pointers that are essential for interacting with the current creative and digital economy.
“I believe this virtual setting has given more flexibility and opportunity for the participants to sink deeper into their work and absorb discussions further, and make the most out of these in their own time, capacity, and space,” says coach Krina. “Though it might be challenging in some circumstances, collaborating with fellow participants and meeting them virtually, I think, still achieved much of the DigiCamp’s objectives. It’s really like accomplishing tasks through today’s reality, and the DigiCamp has made it happen as effectively as it can ever be.”
Award-winning R&B singer-songwriter, producer, and composer Thyro Alfaro is generally satisfied with how the participants took the new format this year despite the prolonged period of remote learning. “I think they’re enjoying the process,” the two-time PhilPop winner explains. “I can hear it in their songs that they’re really applying what we’re teaching.”
Yumi Lacsamana, another acclaimed pop/R&B multi-hyphenate and two-time PhilPop grand champion, echoes Thyro’s observation, pointing out how her mentees have managed to adapt easily in a virtual setting. “It’s not the same but it’s more challenging on their part collaborating with the other fellows virtually. And the outcome is pretty good.”
Yumi emphasizes that some of her best moments during the DigiCamp as a mentor include seeing the participants grow as artists and turn their songs into fully realized material that has the potential to be massive. In terms of personal adjustments, Yumi makes the most out of her time holding a more relaxed conversation with the participants regarding what needs to be improved on their songs. “It felt like we’re not in a camp. It’s more of like we’re just in a video call talking to a friend and asking/giving advice.”
Notwithstanding some minor drawbacks of remote learning, the DigiCamp proves to be a game-changing alternative for the traditional setup as it supported collaborative and higher-level learning through breakout room sessions, and fostered a virtual learning experience that allows participants to learn at their own pace. To quote Marlon Barnuevo, “If I were to gauge how much the participants were able to ‘step up and deliver’ through the quality of their most recent song submissions, I’d be proud to say that the entire PhilPop team has been very successful in meeting its goals.”
PhilPop 2021 DigiCamp: Music Breaking Borders is an initiative of the PhilPop Music Foundation, chaired by Mr. Manny V. Pangilinan. This year's virtual event is co-presented by MAYNILAD, SMART, MULTISYS, TUNECORE and BELIEVE.