HCM CITY — In her seventies now, Hong Hai recalls that she was among the youngest students to join the dan tranh class being offered by the Tieng Hat Que Huong (Motherland Voice) Club.
|All together now: Tieng Hat Que Huong (Motherland Voice) Club performs to mark the group's 30th anniversary. — File Photo
Twenty years later, she continues to visit the club, practising and learning the instrument as well as Vietnamese folk songs.
"Now I am the oldest trainee at the club," she said in a recent report carried by the Nhan Dan (People) newspaper.
Another elderly, Kim Lai, takes the bus every Sunday morning to get to the club from Lai Thieu District in neighbouring Binh Duong Province.
She said she enjoyed doing it because of her love for traditional music.
Over the last 30 years since it was set up, the club continues to be the most popular rendezvous for people of all ages and from all walks of life wanting to learn Vietnamese folk music.
Under the patronage of Professor Tran Van Khe, a leading expert on traditional Vietnamese music, and Meritorious Teacher Pham Thuy Hoan, the club offers classes in several traditional music instruments as well as folk song genres.
At weekends, the club's premises at the HCM City Labour Cultural House resounds with the melodious sounds of the dan tranh (16-chord zither), dan bau (monochord), sao truc (bamboo flute), dan nhi (two-chord fiddle), and folk songs from all parts of the country.
The elderly, the young, children, manual and office workers – the club unites all of them in their passion for Vietnamese traditional music, giving them a space to learn and practise to their heart's content.
The club has won many prizes at domestic and international festivals and its members have toured many countries and collaborated with several international organisations like the Asia Music Society and the national dan tranh associations of Singapore and South Korea.
The club has "raised" many famous artists including Hai Phuong, Kim Lien, To Lan and To Hoa.
It has also collaborated with HCM City Television (HTV) to produce a programme called Reo Rat Tieng Dan (Harmonious Instrumental Music Sounds) to popularise traditional Vietnamese music.
The club offers free classes in folk songs for children as well as school and college students.
Hoan, who is also the club's chairwoman, said that they hold a public performance every quarter for trainees to showcase their talent.
She said the secret to the club's success was the sincerity of both teachers and students.
"Folk music and other kinds of art can be felt more deeply if they are taught carefully." — VNS