I was Mrs. Thuy Hoan's little pupil in the years of 78-79. That was the time when the living condition was very difficult in Vietnam. Mrs. Thuy Hoan"house was in a small lane near the Chi hoa prison. On the tiny and hot top wooden floor, about 20 children at different ages learned to play the musical instruments with their musical teacher. In my memory, Mrs. Thuy Hoan was dedicated, thin, strict and whole-hearted. At that time, learning music seemed to be tiring and unreasonable. But it always brought me a feeling of happiness, because I found music interesting, because she was very close and gentle, and I had 2 pretty teachers of my age, her daughters: Hai Yen and Hai Phuong.
Hai Phuong and Hai Yen were then about 13, 12 years old. Returning home from hours of learning in the conservatoire, they usually helped the newcomers like me review lessons. I admired the innocent and lively girls’ virtuoso performance and their musical study in a serious and strict manner. Later, I stopped learning there due to burden of work but there have been, in my mind, good memories about Thuy Hoan's family, and meanwhile a worry of their daily noble passion for the traditional musical instruments: dan tranh, dan bau and t'rung.
She perceived that her 2 little daughters were just children; therefore she never forced them to follow her way. “I organize the learning-music classes at home. Gradually, they have been absorbed by the fingering techniques: pressing, vibrating and stroking since the age of 5 or 6”. They decided to follow their mother’s path – starting to learn the music at the traditional music department of the conservatoire at the age of 7- as it had been destined. She was both their mother and teacher. Their learning seemed to be convenient but was in fact very hard for them. Mrs. Thuy Hoan always asked them to play the musical instruments on very high demand. "It will be a very ordinary thing if you are, with the instructions of your mother as teacher, as good at playing the instrument as your friends. You have to learn more, work harder, thus gaining more success". Whenever they were playing the instruments, her continuous reminder was heard from the kitchen or the garden outside. Sometimes remembering all these things, she feels sorry for them. “There was only a perception of practicing instead of playing out in my home, said she, but I could not compromise.” It makes her happy that Hai Phuong and Hai Yen both always perceive that art is immense, requiring their continuous great efforts.
To compensate for nearly 40 years of patiently pursuing the profession and becoming fond of the dan tranh, 30 years of training not only her 2 daughters but also many young learners, Mrs Thuy Hoan received a high reward: Tieng Hat Que Huong Troupe, which was formed and has performed in many places over the world and some members of which have become very well-known dan tranh artists in Hochiminh City, especially Hai Phuong and Hai Yen, acknowledged young talents. It seems to me that my worry about her passion for this kind of music has been lifted. But there is another affliction in her eyes. She understands that the happiness of performing on stage is great especially for the young like them. But later on, what would happen if they, getting older, are not suitable for performances on stage? How could they find the profession interesting and suitable any moment of lifetime? That is her worry and also her responsibility as a mother. Although knowing that there is an ideal for each human being beside money and high social position, she is afraid that a very high price would be paid for the ideal to which she has led them.
Besides moments of performing with the mother, Phuong and Yen also try to compose music and stage a pogramme. Besides her joy of appearing on lively and splendid stages is the one of transmitting the profession to the young learners silently and patiently. No way is better than that she has taught the 2 daughters through her own work. Mrs. Thuy Hoan has never stopped working. She has written many books relating the dan tranh. It would be right if she rested and enjoyed the achievements at her age. She learns how to use the computer that helps to compose music easily. Following their mother’s example, the daughters also try their best. She often advised her daughters: “Never quit hold of any subject: English, computer…Pursue them consistently!”
She remembers of the difficult days when she had to give the 2 little children right instructions immediately whenever they retold her all things, not knowing what was wrong or right,. Now, they are mature, and usually busy with work, having their own occupation, there are no moments like that”. Phuong is preparing for new plans of working. Yen will perform in Japan for 3 months. Would it be always such a thing that one’s heart will suffer from setting free their beloved wise birds into the open sky?
Written by Thuy Tram (Bao Dai Doan Ket so 6 ngay 12-10-96)
Translated by Huong Giang