Pianist Trang Trịnh. Photo courtesy of the artist
Pianist Trang Trịnh is one of the co-writers of the new music textbook for primary grade 1. The textbook will be in the curriculum for the new school year 2020-2021.
Việt Nam News reporter Nguyễn Bình speaks with Trang about her work.
Could you tell us about the primary music textbook project approved by the Ministry of Education and Training?
It is a privilege and a challenge for a young writer like me to be co-writing the new music textbook. It is the first time that grade 1 has a textbook for music.
It is evidence of more attention to the arts in public education, which has so far been largely neglected. Learning from different countries' textbooks including the US, UK, Japan and South Korea, the team of writers worked hard to find the best way to inspire children to love music and be able to use music as a tool for expression, as well as gaining knowledge and understanding of music.
The challenge for us is that Việt Nam has such a diverse cultural background, as well as huge gaps in learning conditions between the cities where many families can afford a piano and the countryside where it is still a luxury to have a speaker in the classroom. It is not easy to balance those factors and keep our textbook lively and appropriate.
As a performer, why are you involved in an educational project?
I have always been an educator, although I'm more known as a performer. Education has never come second in my personal development.
It is a time in Việt Nam where there are many changes and I feel blessed to be here at the right moment. I believe that music education is vital not only to the future of the arts but more importantly, it is important for complete, fulfilled, beautiful human development. I think children need music to be more fully themselves and explore their own self, as well as others while growing up.
You are known for your art projects such as Miracle Choir & Orchestra and Sing for Joy. What do these art projects mean to you?
I believe in the life-changing power of music. Apart from the joy which music brings to our lives regardless of age, gender or position, music brings a chance to experience harmony.
The children at the Miracle Choir & Orchestra may have had difficult beginnings but through music lessons, they can enjoy music find healing in music, as well as build up their emotional resilience.
As playing a musical instrument is very challenging, they learn to take responsibility, work hard, and learn to work together. Music starts with listening, and it is beautiful to see them being able to appreciate silence, order, and harmony to create a stunning piece of music together.
What memories do you have working with children?
I think it is my calling to share the joy of music. And I have a soft spot for children. I love working with children and seeing their eyes sparkle when they hear a new and interesting sound.
But my memories of working with them go deeper than just music. I remember when I asked a young boy, what would you like to become. He answered: A good and decent man. I was shocked.
He was a boy forsaken by his parents and sent to an orphanage. He had a difficult beginning. But his dream is so beautiful. I learn so much from children and this boy reminded me that music education is not for making artists. That's the job of the Conservatory of Music. The role of music education for most children is for them to come closer to their fullest and happiest self.
Will you ever stop performing? Do you remember your first international concert?
I am still very active as a performer. I don't think I could ever stop playing. It's a very important part of my life. My first international concert was aged 12 in Tianjin, China.
But I made my official debut in London in 2006. It was a truly unforgettable moment. I wore áo dài, Vietnamese traditional dress. I played to a full house and sold-out concert in London with one of England's best conductors. I felt so happy. Because I could make music and that's a true privilege.
What is your plan for the next 10 years?
I am not so sure about 10 years. Perhaps I'd love to finish all grade 1-5 of the primary school music textbooks, and I'd love to keep being active both as performer and educator. I want to be a responsible, upright citizen who cares and belongs to the world that I live in.
Would you call yourself a performer or educator?
I don't want to fix myself into any stereotypical job, so you can call me a teaching artist, a pianist, a musician, or an educator.
Some people say that nowadays people have seven different jobs. I don't think they're wrong. I am a full-time mother, a pianist, a teacher, a writer, an editor and perhaps I'll find more sides of me that could contribute to this world. VNS