I think in this life exists a thing called destiny, about which we usually address whenever either seeing, hearing, or reading a love story between a boy and a girl, having born into families of best friends, growing up with each other, getting married, and spending the rest of their life happily together. But have you ever thought of a destiny with music? At APU, there is a girl who holds a firm belief in such concept. And she is Nguyen Ngoc Truong An (College of Asia Pacific Studies, 3rd year, Vietnam) – also known as an amateur violinist among APU students.
Starting to take up music with the piano since 3 years old, An confessed to me that actually, at that time, it was completely her father’s decision and she just followed it without showing any interest. Her real turning point was when she started junior high school. Her piano tutor had to take a break due to pregnancy, so she quitted playing for several months. However, one day, her friend took her to a neighbor’s house, where she heard the neighbor girl playing the piano. It was the moment that struck her mind and enlightened her: She immediately went back to her house, and started to get so serious with playing the piano that she practiced almost every day.
At the age of 13, she wanted to learn the violin but her father, being skeptical of her commitment, turned down her request. Not until one of his friends visited and gave An his old violin as a present did An’s father approve of her decision and look for a music teacher from The Conservatory of Ho Chi Minh City to tutor her. When speaking of her violin teacher, An’s eyes were sparkling with proud and admiration. She told me that because of her ability to quickly grasp knowledge, she was able to learn everything quickly. During the first meeting with her teacher, she surprised him with her ability to play a song on the violin prior to any proper learning, and then continued to make him proud by acquiring the vibrato technique in just 3 months. Because of that, her teacher treasures her so much and she also considers him her second father.
Nevertheless, An confessed that even though giving such a chance, due to study and a shortage of time, she did not totally focus on practicing and brushing up her violin skills. Not until she went to APU did she start to play almost every day to compensate for her ignorance during childhood. What she loves about APU is that it has a variety of events, so she could join in to play violin. Also, in her second year, she became the first international APU student to play in the Beppu Citizen Philharmonic Orchestra.
Listening to her stories, I was led in excitement from one to another. But, the most special characteristic about An is her firm belief in destiny. Destiny is such an abstract idea that very few people do believe in its existence. However, for An, destiny is another story. From her musical journey during childhood, to her musical career in APU and Beppu, An told me, it was her destiny with music. Had she not visited her friend’s neighbor and seen that girl playing the piano, she would not have continued pursuing music. Had her father’s friend not given her his old violin as a present, she would not have taken up violin. Had she not come to APU, she would not have been able to participate in many musical events to brush up her skills, and eventually joined the Beppu Orchestra. Though having to go through many difficulties to reach her current position and levels, An still believes that everything has happened due to destiny. However, she also felt regretful for not practicing violin assiduously when she was a child.
When I asked her if she was going to pursue a professional career in music, she reminded me of her father’s saying, “If a hobby becomes a professional career, it may no longer remain a hobby.” Therefore, she does not want to follow the path of a professional violinist, but instead, wants to integrate music into a career by becoming, for example, a music therapist.
The interview turned out to be no longer merely an interview anymore. We had a great time sharing our interest and opinions with each other, about not only destiny but also music and the violin. It reminded me of a Vietnamese program I usually watch every morning, in which a journalist is going to meet an intellectual to listen to and discuss upon an interesting topic while enjoying a cup of coffee. As a journalist used to say, “When you are able to talk to an interesting person, all you need to do is sit and listen.” Being able to meet and talk to An has been one of the most inspring things to me. I hope she will continue her musical passion, raise it to the next level and reach more souls.