A Successful School Band

The band of Vo Thanh Trang Secondary School in Tan Phu District, Ho Chi Minh City was established on December 25, 2001. It had its premiere performance for the pupil’s flag raising on the first day of that week. The music of Vietnam’s national anthem played by the young instrumentalists impressed everyone. Since then, the band has developed, and so far it has had 1,450 performances in Vietnam and abroad.  

I love watching performances by foreign police or children’s bands, which made me think of establishing a similar band for my school. The band can play at school events, and also be a ‘playground’ for the pupils,” said teacher Nguyen Minh Hoang, founder of the band.

In its beginning, the band had only 15 members to play clarinets and drums, which were borrowed from the city children’s cultural house for both training and performances. Later, the school and the pupils’ parents gave financial support for the band to buy the instruments and uniforms for the players. Those who joined the band showed more interest in study and communal activities, which made both teachers and their parents happy.

Vo Thanh Trang School’s Band was established on December 25, 2001,
and since has become a useful “playground” for pupils. Photo: Nguyen Luan

In its early days, the band only performed at the school’s weekly Monday flag raising. Photo: Nguyen Luan

A female member of the band performs with a set of five drums. Photo: Nguyen Luan

The band attracts many pupils. Photo: Nguyen Luan

Practicing with the trumpets. Photo: Nguyen Luan

Pupils from different generations join in the band and help develop it stronger. Photo: Nguyen Luan

At present, the band members can play 88 kinds of instruments,
including the trumpet, coronet, saxophone, and trombones. Photo: Nguyen Luan

The band attracts many female pupils to train and perform. Photo: Nguyen Luan

The band is equipped with expensive musical instruments bought overseas. Photo: Nguyen Luan

Different traditional musical instruments are played, which makes the performances more diverse. Photo: Nguyen Luan

Training with rhythms of drum beats. Photo: Nguyen Luan

After learning in class, playing musical instruments help pupils relax. Photo: Nguyen Luan

More practices for a new performance. Photo: Nguyen Luan

Performing in the band brings joys to the pupils, and furthermore it helps them make more friends. Photo: Nguyen Luan

Musical performances are accompanied with formations,
which makes the performances more attractive. Photo: Nguyen Luan

After 15 years of activities, the band has now about 100 pupils of different generations and ages who do regular training and performances.

In its first year, the band only performed on some occasions such as the New School Year day, pupils’ weekly flag salute day, and other special events held in the school’s yard. One day, after attending an event at the school and watching the band perform so skillfully, a visitor invited them to perform at his school. Since then, the band has received many offers to perform from both schools and public sites in Ho Chi Minh City and other localities throughout the country. In 2008, the band performed in Cambodia, under the trade promotion programs between Ho Chi Minh City and Cambodia.

The band players can now play 88 kinds of musical instruments, including the trumpet, coronet, saxophone, trombone, flute, cymbals, tambourines, triangle and drums. They have attractive uniforms and performing styles, plus skillful formations, which makes their performances more unique. They can also play ceremonial music, children’s music, traditional revolutionary music and others with different tones and rhythms. Since the school had tours abroad for exchange and to attend overseas street band events, the Vo Thanh Trang band has practiced to perform famous musical pieces from around the world, and they can play them well.

Members of Vo Thanh Trang School Band have uniforms
and a professional performing style that attracts many spectators. Photo: File

A performance in the school yard. Photo: file

A performance in front of the HCM City Opera House. Photo: file

The Vo Thanh Trang Band was listed in the Asia Records Book
as a children’s band having most performances in Indochina, with 1,450 tours as of 2016. Photo: file

After class hours, the band members gather in the school yard, where they practice playing musical instruments, beating drums or breathing to blow wind instruments, under the guidance of their leader, Nguyen Minh Hoang.

Thai Thanh Ngan, a 10th grader, said that she joined the band when she was in 6th grade, playing the trumpet or drums.
“Apart from performing in the band, I can make friends with those from other classes. We feel happy and excited, and less tired after learning in class,” Ngan said.

The Vo Thanh Trang Musical Band was recognised by the Vietnam Records Center as the top children’s band in Vietnam with the most performances (938 tours) in 2008; by the Asia Records Book as a children’s band with the most performances in Indochina (1,450 tours) as of 2016. It also won a “Special Prize for A Drum and Clarinet Band” from Ho Chi Minh City for eight consecutive years (2009-2016).

Story: Son Nghia – Photos: Nguyen Luan & files