Diva Mỹ Linh was honoured at a national singing contest in 1993, and is now one of the most influential singers in the north, presenting popular songs in the pop, funk and R&B genres.
In 2018, she held the "Mỹ Linh Tour 2018: Time" concert, marking her 20 years in the business and celebrating the bond with her team, including her husband, music producer-songwriter Anh Quân.
After the success of the concert, she announced it would be her last as a solo performer. She has since shown that to be true, gradually moving towards teaching music. On the occasion of Vietnamese Teachers’ Day (November 20), she spoke with Minh Thu about her passion for passing on her experience.
SEA CHANGE: Mỹ Linh loves her new role as a teacher. Photo courtesy of the artist
Inner Sanctum: I’ve heard you love teaching music more than performing on stage now. Is that true?
Yes, it’s true. I dreamt about being a teacher since I was a child, but never really imagined it would come true. Maybe the inspiration comes from my father, who teaches literature. Since that last concert in 2018, I have focused on teaching music at the Young Hit Young Beat School of Music, founded by myself and some colleagues. I still perform on stage but the number of shows has fallen significantly. I recently launched an online course called "21 Days Singing with Mỹ Linh".
Inner Sanctum: People can learn to sing in only 21 days? Why 21 days?
When people sign up, they can access the course for a year, but I designed it in 21 lessons divided into 21 days. I read that 21 days is a sufficient amount of time to create good habits. This course is for anyone interested in singing, whether you want to become a professional, just want to shine at karaoke with your friends, or want to relax with music. I tell my students, “don’t target to be Mỹ Linh or Whitney Houston when you’re learning to sing”. I accompany them during the course, inspiring them and guiding them in basic vocal knowledge, like how to breathe and hit notes truly.
Inner Sanctum: How did you prepare to get the course underway?
I believe that good daily habits can help change your life and give you positive energy. Teaching online allows me to reach many more people, and I hope my 30 years of experience can help them.
Apart from the difficulties posed by COVID-19, social distancing gave me the time to learn, practise, and create. The idea of founding an online course came to me during the pandemic.
I often livestream to talk with friends and share my experience with students at the Young Hit Young Beat School. Many of them are overseas. Music is not about knowledge; it’s a source of energy and inspiration that can help people in hard times. So, I took full advantage of technology to set up the course, and had a lot of help from my colleagues. We hope to help millions of people become professional musicians.
Inner Sanctum: What’s the most difficult thing about teaching?
Teaching is not easy at all. Someone can sing perfectly but can’t necessarily teach others. Your question reminds me of my first teacher at the Việt Nam Academy of Music, songstress-lecturer Diệu Thúy. She was the most important teacher of my life, and not just when I was at university. She always spared time for me and helped me whenever I needed it. She taught me that the most important thing in teaching music is trust. I trusted her.
I have applied that into my own courses. I tell the students to believe in me. When they come to the hard notes, I hold their hand and ask them to look into my eyes and trust me. Then we start again.
Inner Sanctum: How do you teach music to your children?
Our oldest girl, Anna, has her own career as a music producer and composer overseas. Our son, Anh Duy, now 23, has been learning piano and dancing since he was a kid, but is now studying medicine in Australia. The youngest, Mỹ Anh, likes indie music. I actually didn’t teach them very much about music when they were younger, as they were busy with school. I just gave them some advice about a musical career. I taught them soft skills rather than music. For example, I told Mỹ Anh how to behave in public, how to deal with music contracts, and how to communicate with others. She’s quite shy and not active on social networks.
She knows that social networks can help her, give her more fans, connect with more people. But I told her “just do what you want to do. Social networks can help you but also harm you. Your father doesn’t use Facebook or Instagram and no one can say he’s not successful.”
LIFE LESSON: The most important thing about teaching, Mỹ Linh (left) believes, is winning the trust of the students. Photo courtesy of the artist
Inner Sanctum: Your children are now grown up, and you recently began studying cooking. Was that because you have more free time?
Yes. I think we should learn throughout our lives. Self-education is very important. You should set an example for your children to follow.
When I was pregnant, I listened to music all the time. When the kids were infants, I took them to the studio and nursed them while recording.
I have another tip about teaching children: focus on the oldest and teach them well. Anna became an idol for her younger sister and brother. She teaches them music and inspires them. Anh Duy and Mỹ Anh are much closer to her than to us, her parents. The same can happen in any family.
I have learned more about cooking in recent years, as I used to be pretty bad at it, and have also focused on meditation.
The Zen masters from Plum Village in Thailand gave me wonderful lessons that made me feel better inside. I can find happiness in myself, and don’t need to depend on others. That’s the result of a lot of study and practice. VNS