Passion for art is the key to success

Published: 31/01/2009 05:00



Tran Thu Ha with her student, Yen, showing what it takes to become a piano virtuoso.

Lookatvietnam - A passion for art together with a serious dedication to learning is the key to success.

Le Thi Yen, a student at the Viet Nam National Academy of Music won the silver prize at the third ASEAN International Chopin Piano Competition in Kuala Lumpur this year.

Yen said that she began learning the electric organ when she was a 9 year-old student in Bac Ninh Province.

Despite living in a small town lacking the opportunities for education in the arts, which exists in big cities, her parents were determined that their three oldest daughters would learn to play the organ.

Yen said: “My parents are officers in the construction sector, which has no relation to art, but they themselves always encouraged us to pursue any art because they believe girls should learn art to diversify their lives.”

Yen and her two older sisters all ended up pursuing music, one studying in the Department of Criticism, Composition and Conducting, the other learning to play the electric piano and Yen dedicating herself to studying the forte piano.

“Yen’s slender appearance belies the maturity of this 21-year-old. Underneath this is a powerful determined girl brimming over with enthusiasm,” said People’s Teacher and former director of the Viet Nam National Academy of Music, Tran Thu Ha.

Ha has been Yen’s teacher from her first days practising the piano to the many national and international prizes Yen has won so far.

“Although Yen had a normal upbringing, unlike other students who were born into traditional music families, she still made fast progress because of her intense academic studies,” Ha added.

Experienced as a pianist and lecturer, Ha stressed that aptitude was not enough to create talent. The path from aptitude to talent is a long one needing skill, spirit, awareness and patience, she said, adding that she detected all these virtues in her young student.

Yen has not disappointed her teacher’s confidence, winning a succession of national and international prizes. In addition to the Chopin Piano Competition 2008, Yen won the third national prize at the Autumn Concours 2007.

“Despite my first choice of the electric organ, I finally decided to focus on the piano and make my goal joining the Piano Department at the Viet Nam National Academy of Music after I graduate next year,” Yen said.

Le Thi Yen was voted Chairwoman of Student Association of the Viet Nam National Academy of Music.

“In my mind, piano helps develop my intelligence and balance my life, since I have to juggle a tonne of homework with all my other studies.”

For her, classical music is not just a way to pass the time. Yen said that she admired Mozart because his works unified the essence of music from countries around the world.

“Performing classical works to express the spirit of their music is not easy work because it requires a pianist to master the tune, musical notes, rhythm and to know them by heart,” Yen said.

“This is why I have a special passion for classical piano music and the more I play, the more I understand.”

Normally, a large piece of music will take a pianist from six months to one year to learn to their satisfaction because truly knowing a piece of music is not just memorising the notes, she said.

It is the soul, emotion and sentiment of a pianist, and their connection to a song, which will decide the success or failure of a performance.

Discussing her preparation for the ASEAN Chopin Competition 2008, Yen said, “Before the competition in Malaysia, I was always thinking of music, even when I was eating and sleeping. I was determined to get my first international win.”

Yen played six Mozart songs in the competition, which she learned from March to November, 2008. After passing three rounds of CD submissions and three live performance rounds, Yen made her dream come true.

“I feel more self-confident after this competition, and the most important thing that I could have gained was a victory to prove to myself that a girl weak in body but strong in spirit can accomplish anything if we all try our best, no matter where we come from,” she said.

“I also learnt a lot from other candidates in the competition about how to think and connect with each song to see the basic differences between European and Asian styles because classical music originated from Europe first, and is newly imported into Viet Nam, so there will be some limitations,” Yen said.

Yen also chairs the Academy’s Student Association and tutors children who are interested in learning to play piano.

Seeing Yen’s fingers gliding softly on frets with my own eyes and hearing Mozart echoing off the walls, I was able to see her artistic skill first-hand.

Though she makes it look easy, Yen sacrifices much for her art, often practising up to six hours a day.

“I need to strive for mastery and never be satisfied with my achievements. I will try my best to get a music scholarship to Canada or Great Britain after graduating from the academy with high marks,” Yen said.

Yen’s upcoming target is to take a prize in the Asian Chopin Piano Competition in Japan.

People’s Teacher Tran Thu Ha said, “With her diligence and creativeness, Yen is sure to be more and more successful.” The future is bright for this young pianist.

(Source: VNS)

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