Learn piano under the tutelage of a true music enthusiast by taking piano lessons with Tina Nguyen!

Since starting at Place des Arts in September of 2018 after moving to Canada in January the same year, Trang-Tina Nguyen has made a name for herself as a musician and member of the Place des Arts music faculty.

Career Swerve and Finding your Passion

Tina began playing the violin at six but didn’t feel this was her instrument, then switched to the piano at seven and stuck with it. She loved it and participated in concerts and competitions. Music was always a very important part of Tina’s life but, in her words, “I never saw it as a career, just as a hobby.”

After working as a media planner at a marketing agency, Tina wondered if this was the right job for her. She asked herself two questions, “1. Do I want to do this with the rest of my life? and 2. Do I see a purpose in what I’m doing?” She realized, the answer was no, so she left to “find a way to answer both of these questions with yes.”

Since music was always the constant in her life, she went back to school to do a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and began teaching right away to gain as much experience as possible. Immediately after completing her degree, she went on to complete a master’s to enhance her musical abilities. Tina can now say with confidence she enjoys her work and can see a purpose in what she’s doing.

Emotional Expression and Music

Through her studies and her life-long practice, Tina can attest to many benefits of studying music, both physical and psychological. Since brains are mouldable, they can develop new structures every day. With the piano, unlike with other instruments where only one part of the player’s brain is active, both sides are engaged. Tina knows this is a challenge for new players, but it also makes the experience very rewarding.

According to Tina, the main benefit of studying piano is emotional development. There are so many challenges ahead for young people, especially with mental health, that she has faced too. In her younger years, Tina used the piano as an outlet after long and stressful days at school. She notes, “without music I might not have been able to deal with the situation because I was not able to express my feelings at that time. Music helps even young children to express their emotions with a different language and help them develop an emotional outlet.” She can see this with the students she teaches as well.

The Joys of Learning Music

With these benefits, Tina has said music is the perfect place to find your voice. In her classes, her goal is to give students the tools to be independent pianists and artists. By learning the basics of piano, they can go out and form their own ideas and interpretations as to how a piece could be played, which is pivotal since most of their learning is done at home. Her goal is to help students’ find their best possible performance and stretch beyond that.

One of her favourite teaching memories is a student’s first class with her where she taught him an easy improvisational technique to help him explore the piano. She says, “after the student finished he was speechless and very emotional. He told me he had never expected something so powerful coming from something so seemingly simple. To experience the power of music anew with my students every day is something I really enjoy about teaching.”

A Lifelong Learner and Performer

For Tina, music is not a static thing. She has learned from many of the concerts she has attended, her favourite being a show by Martha Argerich when she performed the Schumann piano concerto with the Cologne Philharmonics.  Tina enjoyed how Argerich was able to connect with the audience and be her true eccentric self at the same time. Tina learned through this concert that, “I didn’t have to copy other artists to be a good performer, I have to be myself.”

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Tips for Conquering the Piano

Tina knows a lot about becoming a great musician and performer. Her advice includes:

  1. Taking care of your health, just like an athlete. Eat well and exercise, and more importantly, strengthen your mental health. Tina says, “without yoga and meditation I would have not been able to withstand the pressure that you have to deal with on stage.”
  2. Also, try to be open-minded in life and in the practice room. Live life to the fullest and take an interest in other arts, in society and politics, to be an engaged person. Tina states, “music is the mirror of human emotions.” By being interested in the world around you, you can become a better performer.

Tina is currently teaching private piano lessons at Place des Arts for ages 4 and up.

See Tina, with her chamber music partner François Houle, at Place des Arts Classic Concert: Immer Kleiner – Always Smaller, a collection of lively and upbeat piano and clarinet pieces, this October 19, 2019 at 7 pm.

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