With the desire to spread the quintessence of Vietnamese music to the world, talented Ho Chi Minh city native champions Vietnamese piano teaching methods in America
Westwood, MA, USA, June 24th 2019: Vinh Pham of Ho Chi Minh city was accepted to a famous music conservatory in the United States after only a few years of private piano studies in Vietnam. Now, the outstanding young pianist successfully teaches his Vietnamese piano method to American students.
The portrait of Vinh Pham - a young piano pedagogue
Pham, who had first graduated from the prestigious Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, started playing piano “for fun” when he was already 16. Various Vietnamese piano teachers, including professors at The Conservatory of Ho Chi Minh City, were so impressed with his talent that they helped him to perfect his technique and get ready for a conservatory audition in just four years of private studies a feat previously unheard of in the realm of classical music where young instrumentalists typically start when they are 3 or 4 years old and then amass 10-15 years of studies before their conservatory admittance.
Pham’s audition tape, which had featured Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu, was received with unparalleled enthusiasm by the admission panel at Longy School of Music of Bard College in Cambridge, MA, and the gifted Vietnamese got accepted on a talent scholarship. While at Longy, Pham, who was invited to work as a Music Director at the famous historical First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Medfield, realized that his greatest passion was piano pedagogy for beginning students.
“Longy has always been acclaimed for championing innovative music teaching methods,” explains Pham. “It was one of the first conservatories to adopt the Dalcroze method. And, of course, Nadia Boulanger, one of the best piano teachers in history, had taught there. I was honored to be part of Longy, where I have had the chance to get in touch with so many young talented musicians, and was deeply inspired by their passion and commitment to music. ”
The talented musician with a strong desire to spread the quintessence of
Vietnamese music to the world
Immersed in the American and European piano teaching traditions, the talented Vietnamese also conducted a thorough research on the Vietnamese piano teaching method. After spending countless hours studying anything he could find about Thái Thị Liên’s teaching, and listening to her son, the award-winning pianist Đặng Thái Sơn’s recordings, attending his live performances and masterclasses, Pham was able to create his own unique piano teaching method, which can be called “quintessentially” Vietnamese.
“In Vietnam, we have such a strong folk singing tradition,” says Pham. “Our songs are based on a beautiful melodic storytelling, inspiring thoughts and feelings that carry you along. I wanted to capture the same melodic and inspirational foundation and apply it to my piano teaching method. So, instead of the usual boring scales and technical drills, I created exercises that my beginning students can sing along with, some of these exercises are based on the traditional Vietnamese pentatonic scale which makes it easy to sing even for the little kids.”
Unlike most traditional piano pedagogues who teach beginning students in the US, Pham combines technical work with inspirational music composition assignments and improvisation piano games fostering his students’ imagination and allowing them to express themselves freely. Pham also teaches his students the harmony and counterpoint principals, and how to modulate a piano piece from one key to another. As a result of such training, his students are able to perceive any piece they play as a harmonic and contrapuntal structure rather than just a pretty melody.
Students are from diverse ages and backgrounds, but shares a common love with
the sound of the piano
Upon his graduation from Longy School of Music, Pham has become one of the leading piano pedagogues at the prestigious private Merry Melody Music Academy in the US which students regularly perform at the best American concert venue, Carnegie Hall in New York. Pham, who has acquired a reputation as the most creative piano teacher for beginning students in Boston, also adapted his method for students with special needs, including the blind students. Pham’s own private piano teaching studio is one of the most successful and popular in Massachusetts,
Pham, who is a true role model for young aspiring Vietnamese musicians and music teachers, is expected to publish his piano method book next year.