Students Group - Special Prize (awarded to elementary school and middle school students)(Japan)
Encounter
3rd Year, Junior High School, Tochigi Prefectural School for the Blind
Yuka Hirose(14 years oldˇfemale)

Music is something special for me. Singing, playing piano, and other forms of playing music give me pleasure, and a power to live on. Also, encounters with people which music gave me helped me grow amazingly.
As a child, I already loved singing. I often sang various songs to the tunes played with CDs. As a primary school pupil, I heard that a friend of mine began to sing in a chorus. I felt a desire to join a chorus myself.  But I hadn’t heard about any chorus active in my local area. Also, as I was poor in communicating with others, I gave up fulfilling my desire, thinking, “I’ll fail to relate with others well, I won’t be able to keep singing in a chorus.”  I think that in those days, my desire to join a chorus was overwhelmed by my fear of failing to communicate with others and being shunned by them.
Even so, I couldn’t get rid of my desire to join a chorus. But time passed without me taking any action. My encounter with a chorus changed my situation. The turning point was a meeting for academic counseling held last summer. After the meeting, my mother asked counselors if there was any chorus active in my city. A staff member of a facility, who was present at the meeting, answered, “An acquaintance of mine sings in a chorus. I’ll tell him about you.”  After that, I spoke with the leader of the chorus, and decided to join it as a trial. I then had an ambivalent feeling. I partly felt glad to join a chorus, as I’d long hoped for. But I also felt anxious about whether I would fit well into it, and whether its members would accept me warmheartedly. So, I hesitated even over whether to make this trial. But I had a strong desire to sing. I thought, “It’s no use hesitating over this. I’ve to take a step forward.”  On the first day of my practice, I was overwhelmed by the sonorous voices of members of the chorus. I thought, “I can’t sing so well as they do, as I thought. As a member, I‘d turn out to be just a burden.”   But this diffidence disappeared over time. While singing and conversing with the members, I got accustomed to the atmosphere of the place. After the practice, I thought, “It was pleasant. I wanna go there again.”   I soon decided to join the chorus formally. On my first day as a regular member, the leader said, ”I’m glad you joined us.”  I remember the great joy I felt at hearing his words. I still felt some anxiety at the beginning, but members often called out to me by way of encouragement. Once again, I felt the great joy of singing with other people. Little by little, I came to address other members freely. Now I always have a pleasant conversation with them. Some members praised me for the sweetness of my voice. So, I can now sing more confidently than in the past.  At present, my greatest pleasure is the practice in chorus singing.
After my encounter with the chorus, I became capable of addressing other people, though little by little. In the past, I was very shy and had little relationships with other people, except members of my family, teachers and intimate friends. But singing gave me opportunities to relate with many people. If I hadn’t loved music, I wouldn’t have met members of my chorus. They accepted me warmheartedly. The chorus not only gives me pleasure, but helps me grow up in many ways. It’s my important second home. In my future life, I will meet many people. And there will be things I will learn through my encounters with these people. So, I will value each of those encounters. Also, I will continue to sing, as singing has always been a pleasure, and the source of confidence and energy to live for me. I am thankful to all people who have helped me grow up. Among these people are the staff member of the facility who introduced me to the chorus; the leader and other members of the chorus who warmheartedly accepted me, a handicapped person; and my mother who asked for information on choruses at the meeting for academic counseling for my sake.  And of course, I am thankful to singing that gave me the opportunity for the wonderful encounter.



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