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29 September 2017 / leggypeggy

An unexpected concert in Vietnam

It is with great pleasure that I introduce a blog post by one of our daughters, Petra. When she was telling me about this experience, she said ‘I kept thinking Mum would love this for her blog’, so I twisted her arm and got her to write it up for all of you. She says she’s honoured to contribute. On the contrary, I am honoured to have her share. The pics and videos have been taken by Petra.


It’s Petra here—Peggy’s daughter. Mum has given me the immense honour of writing a contribution to her blog after I shared a recent experience I had living in Vietnam.

I’m living in Ho Chi Minh City, at the start of a three-year posting in the Australian Consulate. My first few months here are entirely devoted to intense Vietnamese language training, two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, one-on-one, every weekday.

Yesterday I arrived at my afternoon class, and my tutor enthusiastically bounced into the room. ‘We’re going on an excursion today’, he said with excitement. He explained we would be visiting a well-known Vietnamese musician, specialising in traditional music from the many ethnic minorities in this country. I have a little experience with Vietnamese music, although mostly involving crooners from the 1970s. But this was my first introduction to traditional music. Needless to say I was excited.

vietnam muso 1

A music concert in Vietnam

My two tutors and I jumped in a taxi and drove to the other side of town. When we arrived, Duc Dau (Vietnamese spelling is Đức Dậu if you want to find more videos) and his wife, Thu Hien, greeted me warmly. When I walked into their home, I was met with the incredible sight of 30 large drums (bigger than beer kegs), made with 300-year-old elephant skin, lining the walls. Not to mention countless other instruments I had never seen before.

We removed our shoes, as is custom, and sat down at a small table for tea and moon cake.


And then our private concert began. Together Anh Duc Dau and Thus Hien played at least two dozen different instruments. Some were percussion, some were horns, some were like xylophones and, of course, a leaf played like a kazoo.

My favourite one was an instrument, which can be used for courting a potential lover, called a dan k’ni. The player holds the main part of the instrument and places a guitar pick-sized piece of bamboo, connected to the instrument by a string, behind their teeth. They then play the string with a bow, while mouthing sweet nothings through the bamboo piece in their mouth. The words come through the string—you may have seen similar musical speaking done on a didgeridoo. As in my video, it can also be played by two people together.

vietnam muso 2

Music in Vietnam

Duc Dau and his wife play in a band with his six siblings and a growing number of nieces and nephews. They have toured the USA. A few years ago they accompanied one of Australia’s most accomplished pianists, whose name neither of us could remember, during a tour to Vietnam.

As much as anything I was proud to be able to carry on a limited conversation in Vietnamese about their music, home and Vietnam. I was largely able to understand what they were saying too, despite the occasional smiling and nodding. Fortunately during most conversation lapses, Duc Dau would pull out another instrument to demonstrate.

magazine article

Before we bid our farewells, Duc Dau dashed upstairs to get a copy of a magazine he and he wife were featured in. I had thought they just wanted to show me some more photos of their home, but instead they both signed it and gave it to me to keep.

Warm hospitality like theirs is not uncommon in Vietnam, however I don’t expect to get a live, private musical performance everywhere I go.


Leave a Comment
  1. suzlearnsfrench / Sep 29 2017 11:02 pm

    This was wonderful to read. I love different cultures. Please tell your daughter she did a great job describing her experience and good luck with her language learning. What an awesome adventure she is on. Suz

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 29 2017 11:09 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks so much for dropping in and commenting. I know you are trying to learn a language now. Petra is 100% fluent in French and is on her way in Vietnamese. It’s a huge challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gilda Baxter / Sep 29 2017 11:15 pm

    Thank you Petra for a very interesting read and video. It must be a fascinating country to live in and no doubt very hard to learn the language. I had a colleague Dietitian who was from Vietnam, she tried to teach me few words but it was hard for me to get the correct pronunciation. I hope to visit Vietnam in the near future 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 7:37 am

      Petra was lucky enough to start learning Southeast Asian languages when she was very young and we were living in Burma. I think that trained her ‘ear’ at a young age. She’s loving Vietnam.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. pvcann / Sep 29 2017 11:33 pm

    So enjoyed the post, the music, a real treat

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GP Cox / Sep 29 2017 11:40 pm

    Interesting, Petra. Wonderful photography.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 7:38 am

      Thanks. Obviously I’m sharing all the comments with Petra. If I can remember my blog password, she could sign in and comment herself. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sherry Thomas / Sep 29 2017 11:41 pm

    Thank you Petra!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 7:39 am

      She’s sleeping now, but I know she’d be saying you’re welcome.


  6. Vicki / Sep 30 2017 12:10 am

    A wonderful experience and thank you to Petra for sharing it with us, Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. afterthelasttime / Sep 30 2017 12:25 am

    Very nice, Petra! You are hitting the streets of Vietnam running!
    Keep having fun and keep us posted!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 7:41 am

      Petra certainly has immersed herself in the culture. I hope she shares more stories with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. almeidadepaulo / Sep 30 2017 12:42 am

    Congratulations to your daughter Petra and thanks for sharing!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. beetleypete / Sep 30 2017 1:29 am

    Hi, Petra.
    I loved hearing that traditional music, especially the thing the lady was playing that looks like a weaving loom! What an exciting job you have, to be able to live and work in such an exotic country.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 7:47 am

      Petra is having the best time and she only arrived in August.

      Liked by 1 person

      • beetleypete / Sep 30 2017 9:32 am

        A great experience for her, Peggy. And an excuse for you to visit Vietnam of course. (Though you have no doubt been already)
        Best wishes, Pete.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 1:38 pm

        To be honest, we don’t need an excuse to visit. And yes, we had almost a month in Vietnam in 2012. 🙂


  10. weggieboy / Sep 30 2017 2:25 am

    One thing my musical sister did for me when we were children was to show me how to make a leaf kazoo out of lilac leaves. To my delight, I see these accomplished traditional Vietnamese musicians also “play leaf”! LOL!

    I presume they do it better than I did, though my sister (who made a career of music) probably would be delighted to know it wasn’t only her playing a Mozart clarinet concerto (played by Benny Goodman, who had classical roots) over and over while she tried to improve her music contest version that influenced my love of music!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Victo Dolore / Sep 30 2017 3:29 am

    That was super nifty! Thank you for sharing that. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dolly / Sep 30 2017 3:44 am

    Thank you for featuring your talented daughter with her fascinating tour of Vietnamese musical instruments.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Osyth / Sep 30 2017 4:49 am

    Petra this is absolutely wonderful to read. It felt like an invitation to a private concert that I never EVER thought about attending. My own daughter travels to Vietnam from her base in Malaysia often for work but since she is not Australian, I’m guessing your paths won’t cross. To me, what really shines out of this piece is that it is travel at its raw finest (no surprise given Peggy and Poor John’s legacy but nonetheless a rare delight. Thank you for the invitation to the concert, thank you for taking the time to write this for us. ❤️

    Liked by 6 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 8:48 am

      Osyth, thanks so much for your wonderful comment. I feel the same as you—so fortunate to have a peek into this impromptu concert. If your daughter goes to Ho Chi Minh City perhaps our two daughters could meet.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Osyth / Sep 30 2017 2:31 pm

        Every word meant. And that would be delightful wouldn’t it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 3:19 pm

        Perhaps we can help to make it happen.


  14. Dorothy / Sep 30 2017 6:12 am

    Well done Petra, you may be called on to contribute again to Mum’s blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 8:49 am

      This is Peggy here and I’m hoping Petra will be tempted to contribute often.


  15. lexklein / Sep 30 2017 6:27 am

    Nice to “meet” Petra and read about this wonderful, personal music experience. Having a daughter who also frequently does her work outside of the country, I know how fulfilling it is to be invited into an inner sphere in your adopted land. Lucky daughter, lucky parents, lucky readers!

    Good luck with the Vietnamese lessons!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 8:50 am

      Thanks so much. I was thrilled when Petra said she’d do a piece for the blog—and what a wonderful piece it is. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  16. Chris Riley / Sep 30 2017 8:10 am

    Wow, Petra, you look like you’re going to have an amazing three years if things like the occasional private music concert are on the agenda. And you did an amazing job of portraying your experience, both with written word, and photographs. You did your mum proud!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 8:50 am

      Thanks Chris. Petra has done me very proud indeed.


  17. gerard oosterman / Sep 30 2017 8:15 am

    Most people visiting Vietnam have nothing but praise for their hospitality and way of welcoming foreigners. I am sure that learning a few phrases in Vietnamese is a big step towards even more friendships and cultural interaction.
    If learning Vietnamese or any language is difficult, spare a thought for the hundreds of thousands non-English speaking migrants that settled in Australia and learnt English.
    Well dome Petra.

    Liked by 4 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 8:52 am

      You make an excelled point Gerard. I’m always impressed when people make an effort to learn the language of the country they are in.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Robert Parker / Sep 30 2017 9:00 am

    Yesterday the NY Times had a picture of Vân-Ánh Võ playing that type of bamboo instument with the Kronos Quartet, and today I got to hear this new (to me) music, via your video – – so thank you! The bamboo xylophone reminded me of great times in primary school with the “Carl Orff Approach” music classes. Every kid I know, without exception, who’s been in Vietnam for “study abroad” has loved it, and talked in glowing terms of the people there.
    Great guest post! Be sure to do another, please! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 1:36 pm

      Thank you Robert, for urging on Petra. I hope she can provide us with lots of posts. We were in Vietnam for almost a month in 2012 and thoroughly loved it.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Brian Lageose / Sep 30 2017 10:59 am

    This was completely fascinating, and I have to admit that I was a wee bit disappointed when I ran out of videos to play. I’m sure Petra was quietly squealing the whole time. The “weaving loom” (as beetleypete christened it) has a wonderful sound, but that leaf! You can’t beat the leaf… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 1:40 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the music. Maybe someday I’ll be able to call myself an ‘accomplished leaf player’ but I doubt it.

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Paula / Sep 30 2017 11:46 am

    I see Petra has your love for adventure, Peggy. That is so wonderful! Loved learning about and hearing all the different musical instruments that I’ve never been exposed to before. I think my favorite was the one that sounds very similar to the bagpipes (I believe the 3rd instrument he picked up in the top video), but also really enjoyed the xylophone type of instrument. Such a wonderful post and such talented musicians. Thanks much to Petra for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 1:44 pm

      So pleased you enjoyed it Paula. I can’t pick a favourite instrument—maybe a top five. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Hang / Sep 30 2017 1:54 pm

    What an amazing concert! Thank you very much to Petra for this wonderful post and thank you so much for sharing it with us, Peggy. If Petra is interested in vietnamese language, she can contact with me. 🙂 Best greetings from Germany, Hang

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 30 2017 2:30 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the concert. I’m guessing many of these instruments are familiar to you. Thanks for your lovely offer to Petra.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. thewonderer86 / Sep 30 2017 4:14 pm

    What an amazing experience, and how lovely to be able to share in it. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. derrickjknight / Sep 30 2017 9:46 pm

    Excellent post, Petra. Well done. Fascinating prose and photographs. Can’t say I’m partial to the music, though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. julioc / Oct 1 2017 8:15 am

    great reading, I’ve learned a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 1 2017 9:01 am

      Glad you liked the post. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting.


  25. Oz's Travels / Oct 2 2017 12:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Nice post. Vietnam is a great place to visit, lots of history, great food and people. Plus the scenery is not bad either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 4 2017 4:47 pm

      Petra is loving Vietnam. We did too when we were there in 2011.


  26. amindfultravellerblog / Oct 4 2017 5:42 pm

    Wow Peggy, you must be extremely proud of your daughter. What a great experience. I would love to discover Vietnam one day. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Nancy / Oct 4 2017 11:37 pm

    What a wonderful experience. Amazing instruments. I particularly liked the instrumental solo in the video. His phenomenal voice made my heart skip a beat. Thank for taking us to Vietnam. Your daughter, a prolific storyteller, is quite an adventurer, like her mum. I thoroughly enjoyed this entry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 5 2017 6:55 am

      Thanks so much Nancy. I’m hoping Petra will write more of her adventures for us to enjoy.


  28. Zambian Lady / Oct 5 2017 4:12 am

    Peggy, you have a gifted blogger there :). I have never heard Vietnamese music and this was an eye opener. It is very calming. I like the fact that it is customary for people to remove their shoes when entering homes. I find this hygienic. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 5 2017 6:58 am

      What a perfect description—the music is very calming. And removing your shoes upon entering a home is the custom throughout Southeast Asia.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Cecilia / Oct 5 2017 6:14 am

    What a wonderful heartwarming post! You made my day!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. jeanleesworld / Oct 5 2017 1:38 pm

    Simply amazing! Say hello to your mum for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 5 2017 8:22 pm

      Thanks for the hello, Jean. I’m hoping Petra will write more for the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. BoomingOn / Oct 5 2017 5:12 pm

    Well done to Petra on her guest post! I might just have to pay her a visit and see if she can zip up another music performance.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Forestwoodfolk / Oct 5 2017 5:29 pm

    Traditional music is always wonderful to listen to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 5 2017 8:23 pm

      It was such a treat for her to see and then to share with us.


  33. chattykerry / Oct 8 2017 12:57 am

    Hi Petra and Peggy. Great post – like mother, like daughter. I once went to a Vietnamese restaurant in Brussels. They only spoke Flemish and Vietnamese. I clucked like a chicken and the food was delicious. 🐔

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 8 2017 9:09 am

      Petra is loving the food there. Because she knows the language, she is able to order without clucking! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  34. Phil Huston / Oct 9 2017 7:49 am

    Apologies for the delay, I had to wait for this until I had time to appreciate it. I am tempted to draw rhythmic and tonal analogies to modern electronic music, but all I can say is inspired, fun, humorous and proficient…and organic. What music is all about. Big thanks for this one.

    Okay, I’ll do it. The truth will out. New Age and Electronica never stole a lick they couldn’t use.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / Oct 11 2017 7:28 pm

    Petra is going to be wonderful in the Australian consulate. This was such an interesting article. The music is delicate and inventive. My favorite was the cloth waving gently as Duc Dau sang but the bird whistles played against the percussion reminded me that birds live avian lives despite anything we humans do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 12 2017 7:49 pm

      That’s a perfect description—the music is delicate and inventive. I’m so glad Petra was willing to write about the experience and share the videos and pics with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  36. MichaelStephenWills / Oct 19 2017 8:03 pm

    Quite a gift of music Petra received and gave to us in turn.

    Liked by 1 person


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