Most 11-year-old girls would wish for an ipod or a dress for their birthday. Not Issei Guarin. She wanted an audience with musical legend, Jim Paredes.

On 8 January this year, Jim Paredes, one-third of APO Hiking Society, ran a songwriting workshop in Australia. The youngest person in that workshop was Issei Guarin, an 11-year-old Sydneysider who has already clocked her fair share of concert performances under her (young) belt.

Guarin’s latest performance was as part of a show with Marco Sison, but what makes her different from most aspiring singers her age is that she’s hoping to be an all-round artist, too.

She’s getting a headstart with a lesson from Paredes. Guarin felt overwhelmed at first when she looked around and found herself to be the ‘bunso’ (youngest) of the bunch. But Paredes made her feel at ease.

“He teaches very well that even an 11 year-old kid could understand: I felt as if my contribution to the workshop was important,” she said.

Guarin added that Paredes guided her through her compositions, which made the task comfortable enough for her to work on.

Her teacher is equally complimentary. "At first, she felt intimidated but after awhile, she was up-and-about like everyone else attempting at writing melodies and lyrics."

Best of all, Paredes said she's got what it takes. "The kid is a natural. And she gets the ideas and concepts right away. I am sure songwriting will soon be one of her many talents."

By the end of the seminar, Guarin said she gained a lot of knowledge on how to make a good song and what are the elements she need to be mindful of.

Would she go to a similar workshop again?

“Yes and I would definitely recommend this workshop … it is not only for skill development but a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of learning from a Maestro.”


Jim Paredes, who splits his time between Australia and the Philippines, will be in Sydney next month to run a one-day photography workshop on July 9 (and in Melbourne on July 16). Cost is $100. Email for reservations.

Photo credits: workshop photos courtesy of Lydia Paredes, photo with Marco Sison courtesy of Mark Lim.


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