Poised for performance
Mix pure talent, loads of positive energy, a good
sense of humour and… you’ve got Ruwani Seimon. Her numerous
students are ample proof of her capabilities as one of the most
successful singing teachers around; she literally lives and breathes
music. As her choir ‘Voices in Harmony’ prepares to
provide you with yet another of their characteristic surges of entertainment,
I caught up with her for a chat about her career as a teacher, her
drive to do what she does, and life in general.
Returning to Sri Lanka after completing two degrees
in Canada, she launched as a professional singing teacher in 1994,
creating ‘Voices in Harmony’ in 1996. Along with training
her choir, she simultaneously trained the choir of Ladies’
College, then St. Bridget’s Convent and Bishop’s College,
with an eight year stint at Wycherly International School being
the most recent.
As for concerts, there have been a number of them.
“I have been doing a concert with ‘Voices in Harmony’
every other year, and there have been about eight in total,”
she says, adding that she presently has about 95 members in her
choir. “We have a senior and a junior choir, between the ages
of six and 25, the youngest coincidently being my second son,”
she added. I then had the “privilege” of being introduced
to her two energetic young songsters aged six and eight, who by
the looks of it are quite musically gifted themselves!
So what of her reputation as being quite a tough
teacher? “Yes, I am very strict, and all my students know
that I am a perfectionist, and that I expect a very high standard
from them,” she says. “But they also know that my outbursts
of displeasure are momentary. Believe me, when you’re trying
to discipline almost hundred kids who are just bursting with energy
and unsupervised can be quiet for maybe a maximum of five minutes,
you need to be,” she added with a smile.
For her, commitment is essentially a vital part
of anything you do, and she does not hesitate to instil this principle
in the minds of her students. Battling cancer and dealing with the
unending challenges that come with it, the drive and pure passion
she has for teaching kids is what sees her through. “This
is probably the most rewarding job ever, and I am exactly where
I want to be. I really can’t imagine myself doing anything
else,” says a very satisfied Ruwani. “When I’m
with my students, all these other obstacles just seem to disappear.
Sometimes during practices and especially concert rehearsals, I
have to remind myself that I need to be a little cautious about
my physical well being!”
The practices are evidently an absolute blast.
“We have a really good time, and the kids enjoy themselves
thoroughly during practices. They practically take over my house,
especially during practices for a concert, like at the moment, and
I have kids of various ages singing and dancing all over the place.
The comradeship and closeness between the kids is amazing, because
though most of them are from various schools, the common love for
music helps them bond,” she says. But there’s definitely
a strong balance between work and play. Of the 95 students in ‘Voices
in Harmony’, almost all are doing singing examinations, so
there’s obviously a lot of serious work underneath the element
|Pix by Gemunu Wellage
What amazed me throughout our conversation is her
unending strength of mind and absolute cheerfulness, regardless
of circumstance. “How do I do it? Well, that’s just
me! I get my drive from what I do, and since I enjoy every moment
of it, it just comes naturally. You need to love what you’re
doing from right within, and then more or less anything would become
achievable,” she says, heaps of positive vibes emanating from
The performance this time round is called a ‘Musical
Journey with Ruwani Seimon,’ and will consist of a number
of favourites from past concerts by ‘Voices in Harmony,’
with some of the songs dramatised and choreographed, mostly by her
senior students and herself. “My concerts are usually a forum
for my students to be highlighted, but this time around, we decided
to make it more an opportunity for the entire choir as a body to
shine. The concert will consist of a wide range of items, ranging
from inspirational songs, to medleys of semi-classical and Sinhalese
songs, and a very entertaining medley from Pocahontas, courtesy
the junior choir.
While the proceeds of this concert will be in
aid of cancer, she will also be releasing a CD of songs done solely
by her at the concert, with the proceeds going for the same cause.
“The amount we have received so far from anonymous donors
is just unbelievable,” she says, proving the fact that the
world is still full of wonderful people indeed.