Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. (Confucius)
This is a post about music, a saxophonist par excellence, and one of Vietnam’s finest musicians – a man who has taken full advantage of the opportunity to attend a world-class music college, indulge his passion for jazz and pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician.
Trần Mạnh Tuấn took up the saxophone in 1979 and later became the first Vietnamese student/musician to receive a scholarship from Berklee College of Music in Boston (Class of 1997). As its website points out, Berklee “was founded on the revolutionary principle that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through the study and practice of contemporary music… With more than a dozen performance and nonperformance majors, a diverse and talented student body representing more than 70 countries, and a music industry “who’s who” of alumni, Berklee is the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today—and tomorrow.”
Originally from Hanoi, Tuấn moved to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in 2002 and opened the Sax N’ Art Jazz Club two years later. In addition to performing, he is a composer, arranger and producer. As a BBC article on his website notes, “Jazz is still an acquired taste in Vietnam. But saxophonist Tran Manh Tuan is doing his bit to bring it to the masses.” He has succeeded wildly in taking a uniquely American art form and fusing it with Vietnamese and ethnic minority music. Tuấn recently opened for Bob Dylan at his historic April 2011 concert in HCMC.
The next time you’re in HCMC, spend an evening at Tuấn’s jazz club; and if “the man” is in the house, you’re in for a real treat. Watching him perform is a textbook example of what psychologists call flow, “an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist.” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)
You Have to Trust in Something…
It was Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who said in a 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University, “You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever–because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.” Similarly, Adam Khoo, Singaporean entrepreneur, best-selling author and leading motivational speaker, had this to say about the “secrets of success” in a January 2011 interview entitled Pursuing Money Alone Isn’t Enough to Make You Rich.
Q: You’ve trained over 500,000 people and written 11 books on the secrets of your success. If you had just one sentence, could you summarise the secret of your success?
A: I would say “it’s all about loving what you do… and doing the very best you can in that field.
I think everyone can be successful, but they have to discover what they are special at, what they love to do and really focus on improving it every single day.
Career Success (=matching abilities and interests to the task) & Vietnam
Vietnam doesn’t have to worry about a shortage of business administration and IT graduates anytime soon. The overwhelming majority of young Vietnamese enrolled at domestic and foreign universities are studying one of these subjects. What about the creative and performing arts, the humanities, the social sciences, the natural and physical sciences, and other “less commonly studied subjects” (LCSSs)? Vietnam needs more people like Trần Mạnh Tuấn who choose the road less traveled by.