The children were all ears as an orchestral tune filled the classroom.
“I think it’s African,” “I think it’s American,” “I saw clouds, the moon, but it might be at dusk as I felt sad,” they went on and on.
The “feeling music” session was part of a free class held on July 19 for disabled children in Hanoi held by classical pianist Trinh Mai Trang and her Korean tenor husband Park Sung Min, who have both enjoyed award-winning international careers, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
“I have a dream, that I will stand by you on a beautiful stage and sing to people, to give the gift of music to people. My dream won’t come true without you,” Trang told her class of 18 orphans, abandoned and abused children.
She calls them the Magical Orchestra.
The 27-year-old began studying piano at age four. At 16, she headed to London where she spent eight years mastering the instrument.
She became inspired by the idea of musical philanthropy after watching a group of disabled Venezuelan children give a performance in England.
Trang said her students weren't confident when she opened her first class last November with the help of seven volunteers.
She said it took her and her husband a lot of support to stand up and share their thoughts.
Sung A Lu,11, grew up in a rural H’Mong community in Cao Bang Province.
In 2011, the authorities found him living in a cave with his father surviving on wild fruit.
Lu said they'd sought refuge in the cave after his mother was trafficked to China.
Eventually, the pair were brought to the vocational center where officials discovered Lu's excellent voice.
His classmate, Hai Yen, 6, sought refuge at a public shelter with her mother in order to escape her abusive father.
After nine months of constant encouragement, they're back to being kids: active and curious about experimenting with new instruments and sharing their feelings about musical pieces, said Trang, who was trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Now, every Sunday at 1pm, a bus picks up the kids from a center for disabled children in Kham Thien alley, a social welfare center and an SOS village and drops them off at the South Korea International School on Le Duc Tho Street in Cau Giay District.
“Serious musical practice allows them to discover harmony and love in the deepest way possible." --Pianist Trinh Mai Trang and her Korean tenor husband Park Sung Min
Park said they rent the bus and he always worries about the driver being careful; every time he sees the bus arrive with all the children, he breathes a sigh of relief.
When he teaches, Trang plays instruments and interprets. While her husband goes around adjusting the children's' grips on their instruments and advises them on how to produce each note.
Le Hoang Dieu Anh, a volunteer studying at the National Economics University in the capitol, said she was inspired by the couple’s sincerity and enthusiasm.
“Their dream and what they are doing are so beautiful,” Anh said.
But in order to get there, Trang said they've faced challenges at every level--including from the people in charge of educating the kids.
“These kids can't study books properly yet, so what's the point of teaching them music?” she recalled them asking.
She said it took a lot of persuasion for them to let her bring the kids into the class.
“They have this idea that classical music is a luxurious thing that's unsuitable for children, especially difficult ones,” she said.
“But I always believe that music can offer them magical things. Children who suffer a hard life tend to show their feelings in negative ways. But through music, they become confident and dare to dream.
“They know the audience expects something of them at each performance,” she said.
She said her class isn't designed to train the children to become artists, “but to teach them to dream, hope, love and get along with each other like a family.”
With that in mind, she gets as close to each student as she can, telling them stories about music and life in an intimate way.
“Gentle” and “dedicated” are how the children described her.
The couple said their volunteers are responsible and above all loving.
“Music and love have to go hand in hand,” Trang said. “Serious musical practice allows them to discover harmony and love in the deepest way possible."