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Free course seeks to awaken, nurture passion for traditional Vietnamese music

Tuyet Mai says was happily surprised and greatly saddened at the same time.

"Many foreigners who have come to my house to watch our shows have surprised me with their profound knowledge of Vietnamese folk music and musical instruments," Mai told Thanh Nien Weekly.

"And I felt sad that many Vietnamese youth do not even know the name of some traditional musical instruments like dan bau (monochord) or dan nhi (Vietnam two-chord fiddle.)"

Mai and her artist husband Dinh Linh are not the type to wallow in despair, however. They have decided to do something about it.

The couple are now offering free courses in Vietnamese traditional music at the small theater that they run.

Opening July 15, the course is open to both locals and foreigners interested in Vietnamese folk and traditional music. It will last for two months and will be taught through morning, afternoon and evening classes on Saturday and Sunday.

"The course also aims to awaken in local youth a love for Vietnamese music. The two-month course cannot make a big change, but I hope, at the least, that it can raise their awareness and pride in national art treasures."

Mai said her master's degree in traditional music teaching can help her greatly in handling the classes.

The course is not the beginning of the couple's commitment to promoting national traditional and folk music.

Mai and her husband, both born in 1964 and recognized as Meritorious Artists in 2007, have organized weekly concerts in traditional music that have enchanted many music-lovers including foreign tourists, at their home since 2004. 

They moved to HCMC in 1992 from Hanoi and worked for a local theater company for a few years. Since they couldn't live comfortably on their meager salaries, they had to sustain their main career by playing in restaurants and night clubs.

But Mai said that now, she and her husband are not pursuing either money or fame.

"The musical course is free as my target is not money. I just want my small theater to become a part of art socialization trend. The lessons also include talks and stories about different musical instruments that we have played and come across in our years of performing," Mai said.   

The first course that was offered last summer attracted mostly foreigners, and Mai is hoping more Vietnamese youth will join this year.

Mai said that she intends to make the course an annual offering at her home, called Truc Mai House, at 104 Pham Viet Chanh Street, Binh Thanh District.

Anyone interested in doing the course can register for it by calling Mrs. Tuyet Mai at 0913 724 319 or emailing trucmai_music@yahoo.com.vn.

More information about Truc Mai Home concerts can be found at www.trucmaimusic.com.

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