Alan’s first experience with an instrument was when he joined his middle school orchestra as a violinist in the 6th grade, and began private lessons with a local violin teacher. Shortly after, he began to take piano lessons. As he learned both instruments side-by-side, he gradually became more fascinated by the piano’s ability to play multiple lines of music with ease. He learned at an early age that the piano could become its own orchestra, and from that concept enjoyed the piano’s possibilities as a solo instrument. Playing both the piano and the violin allowed him to develop dual experience playing with a group and alone. In his late teens until college, he played the violin for various Vietnamese churches (his experience with the churches also allowed him the opportunity to play in a rock band!).
Alan studied piano with Dr. Tim Hester at the University of Houston, where he earned a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance. He became interested in Vietnamese traditional music during this time and began lessons to learn how to play the dan bau (Vietnamese monochord) and dan tranh (Vietnamese zither). This manifested into an interest in ethnomusicology, which led him to minor in Global and International Studies, facilitating his involvement in the recording and interviewing of a local Cao Dai temple.
Although he taught violin in his teens (under the tutelage of Mrs. Danette Schuh), he did not officially begin teaching piano until after he began his degree in music. Since then, however, Alan has taught to a variety of piano students (ages 4 to 70). His specialty as a teacher is his ability to communicate and collaborate with young students, finding ways to inspire them and open them to a love for music. Watching a child learn and grow is, for him, a compelling and inspirational experience. Overall, he is a laid-back and observant teacher who stresses good posture and technique, a strong understanding of musical theory, and developing a unique sense of musicality.