|Ms. Nghiem Thu (R) and her student.
Even though schools are closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Nghiem Thu still organizes online classes at home where she teaches her students how to play Dan Ty Ba twice a day.
The Dan Ty Ba is a four-string instrument, which is often present in a traditional orchestra. Its sound box is shaped like a pear cut in half lengthwise. Its soundboard is made of unvarnished lightwood, and its back is made of hard wood with a slightly curved surface. The neck is short and tightly fixed to the sound-box.
Nghiem Thu is a member of the music band “Strange Grass” which debuted in 2006 and surprised music lovers back then with performances combining folk and contemporary music elements. Throughout her teaching career of more than 2 decades at Hanoi College of Arts and Ho Chi Minh City’s Music Conservatory, Nghiem Thu has fuelled the love for “Dan Ty Ba” among many of her students.
"I really hope that my small contribution will help introduce Vietnam’s Dan Ty Ba to a wider public, both at home and abroad, to make people better understand the beauty and values of this special musical instrument of Vietnam," said Ms. Thu.
| A performance of Strange Grass band.
In addition to teaching her students to play academic performances of Dan Ty Ba which are more about Vietnam’s traditional and folk music, Nghiem Thu also guides her students to play modern songs and music pieces with this special guitar. Bui Thi Ngoc Han, a first year student specializing in Dan Ty Ba at Hanoi College of Arts, said Ms. Thu is both a dear teacher and her friend.
"Watching Ms.Thu performing in the orchestra helps us better understand the importance of each musical instrument, particularly the role of Dan Ty Ba," said Han.
With her talent and love for Dan Ty Ba, Nghiem Thu is nurturing the love for Vietnam’s traditional music among many Vietnamese music students, according to Huynh Thi Thu Hien, a 16 chord-zither lecturer at Ho Chi Minh City’s Conservatory of Music.
"Nghiem Thu is so energetic and passionate about Dan Ty Ba. She spares no effort to help her students master the art of playing this special guitar of Vietnam. She often works with her students even at noon in preparation for competitions or special events. No matter how difficult is the task, we never hear Thu complain," said Ms. Hien.