December 3rd was quite a busy day for the Nguyen family: Dad, Mom, daughter Khue, age 10, and son Vinh, age 8. The Penn Orchestras concert had been on the calendar for a while, with the bonus prelude Philadelphia Orchestra string quartet concert beforehand and the PIMF camp scholarship drawing. Khue attended the two-week symphony program last June for violin.
But music is just one part of what is important to our family – albeit an important part. And our day’s schedule reflected just that, as more and more commitments crowded in. First up, all four of us ran a 5k trail race in Haverford, PA that we’ve participated in for several years. Then it was off to the season opener for Khue’s CYO basketball team at our local parish gym. She saw a few minutes of action in an intense game as her team pulled out a victory. (Go Dawgs!) Khue squeezed in lunch with Dad while Mom took Vinh to his piano lesson. Next up was a drive to New Jersey to visit cousins in from out of town. After an early dinner with them, we were back to PA for … another basketball game for Khue in a different league. On the way, Mom was dropped off at Penn to catch all of the musical offerings and enter the scholarship drawing. Since you had to be present to win, the rest of the family joined after the basketball game ended, perched up in the balcony for the best view of all of the sections of the orchestra.
We all crossed our fingers when it was time for the drawing. Khue knew to say a prayer as well. We weren’t too disappointed when someone else’s name was called – we’d already had the good fortune of being able to join PIMF last summer at the last minute and with some accommodations we needed to be able to attend. But the raffle winner didn’t materialize! So Maestro Hong was back at it to pull out another name. The scenario repeated itself: name called, no response. He goes in for a third time. There was a bit of a pause and we began to feel like this might be possible. With our rather unusual names, we’ve grown accustomed to that awkward moment as the speaker tries to figure it out. “Quinn? En…En…gooyen?” It was Khue herself! (Pronounced “k-way” “new-inn.”) We made as much noise as we could to show that this winner WAS PRESENT! Fortunately the college students seated around us whooped it up on our behalf and Sandy Marcucci and Maestro Hong spotted us. We wanted to “come on down” like in “The Price is Right,” but it wasn’t really feasible from the balcony.
We found Sandy afterwards. She took us under her wing, introducing us to Maestro Hong and PIMF staffers and alumni at the post-concert reception. Rich (her husband) even regaled us with photos of the NBA basketball players that have been a part of his programs over the years (such as Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers & Kevin Durant of The Golden State Warriors!). It was a tremendous night all around! We felt like we became part of the PIMF family. Khue didn’t get to practice violin that day, but we felt we made a very good investment of our musical time.
Thoughts on PIMF:
Khue had some prior small string ensemble experience and had been planning in 2016 to attend a local string camp she had done the summer before. When that opportunity fell through, we found PIMF and took the leap into a much more intensive and serious experience, but one that we sensed could be quite enriching and potentially a game-changer for Khue. She had been studying violin for 4 years and had become fairly disciplined in her practice. She is a bright kid and works hard – a great combination. At school she is often grouped with other gifted learners, and I felt like PIMF provided the same environment musically — she was with some kids who manifested tremendous musical gifts. I think PIMF inspired her to reach higher and instilled in her a love of the ensemble. She was exposed to new techniques and new perspectives from the fantastic teachers in her lessons. She learned from the practice marathon that she could practice more than she ever had and find it very satisfying. She loved choir as well as orchestra. Her conductors were young and enthusiastic. Following PIMF, we were fortunate enough to find our way to a local youth orchestra that similarly welcomed Khue in to its community. Her musical curiosity and enthusiasm are on full display there, and she had the confidence to enter that group because of her PIMF experience. Khue’s commitment to violin is firmly cemented, regardless of whether or not she ultimately decides on a career as a musician.
This year Khue won’t be a last-minute “walk on” at PIMF, nor will she be in the children’s program, so it is certain to be a different experience in many respects. We expect it will still be a great one. Keep an eye out for Khue on campus this summer: she’ll be the little one in the basketball shorts.