Challenge Your Possibility

前田 裕子

Challenge your Possibility

Have you ever heard of shigin? Have you ever seen a shigin performance? No? Ok, I shall then sing a verse for you. (Sing)

That was shigin.

Before I talk about my experience with shigin, let me explain a little about it. Perhaps shigin is not so familiar to you. Shigin is the recitation of Chinese poem in Japanese. It is recited in a unique melody, especially with the last vowel of each sentence prolonged. As shigin performers, we first have to understand the meaning and feeling of the poem before we convey them to other people.

I started to learn shigin when I was five years old, and first participated in the national shigin competition when I was ten. However, at that time, I was overwhelmed by other participants. "Oh, they are as old as I, but they seem to be proud of their recitation. I'm not good enough". Lacking confidence in my recitation, I was really shocked and intimidated by them. I thought I was too lousy for a shigin performer. But fortunately, meeting a wonderful teacher helped me gain confidence and changed my attitude towards shigin altogether.

I first met my present shigin teacher five years ago. Since I started practicing with her, she always says to me, "It's important for us to practice every day. Our technique is the result of our daily effort." " Yes, yes, work hard, work hard…I have heard such preaching endless times from countless people," I said to myself. Then she recited a poem for me. It gave me goose bumps. I was really fascinated by her amazing recitation. In fact, she practices every day even though she is already one of the best shigin performers in Japan today. "Practice every day with a strong faith" I repeated the same words to myself. I asked myself. "Have I recited so proudly? Have I concentrated on my daily practice?" "I want to be a performer like her. I want the audiences to listen to my recitation in awe." I began to have strong consciousness about working hard. I then began to carry out what my teacher said to be a champion.

A year later, I was on the same stage. I no longer had stage frights and never forget my words. I could make impressive recitation to the audiences in which I could be proud of. I realized that it was the result of my hard work and if I have a strong faith in something and work hard for it, I can achieve a brilliant success. I also think that any difficult situation can now be overcome if I prepare enough.

One day, I found a poem, which makes my challenge certain. There is a verse that I like in particular: "The experience of many hardships is the root of a determined spirit." This is what I have learnt from my teacher and shigin practice.

As I have told you, my dream is to be No.1 at the national competition. I am sure that it will not be easy for me. However, speaking from my experience, I know that doing one's best is the most important lesson not only for me but also for young people. If we try our best, I'm sure we can succeed because we all have unlimited possibility in us. I believe my possibility and I am certain I can make my dreams come true.

(3-19 Speech in 56th Contest, 2004)

(C)JNSA FUND/the Yomiuri Shimbun


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