Pianist Lang Lang on Music Education and Opportunities: “We are not numbers, we are …

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3 August 2021, 18:24 | Updated: Aug 3, 2021, 7:41 PM

Lang Lang plays the piano in Beijing, 2020.

Photo:
Getty


We chat with the virtuoso superstar about young students, music education, what needs to happen and what he’s doing about it.

Pianist Lang Lang has mounted a passionate defense of music education in schools, in an exclusive interview with Classic FM.

We spoke to the Chinese pianist and educator just days after the English university regulator approved government cuts that will halve the per-student funding grant for music and arts subjects. This is part of a move away from funding the arts and music to the “Stem” subjects of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as medicine and health care.

Read more: When Lang Lang played the piano in front of 2 billion people at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics

We asked Lang Lang why music deserves to be considered the same as science and math in schools and higher education. The answer was “very simple,” he said.

“In the past, music has always inspired human beings to become much more unified, more synergized and more emotional beings. Society has become more materialistic and practical, but music will bring humanity back to people, ”he says.

“We cannot live in a world made up of numbers only. We are not numbers, we are humans … The more we move into a less human mechanical world, the more music we need, to balance our lives.

“I think music gives us a great connection to our best feelings. In a way, it opens our third eye. In music, everyone is a bigger person in life.

He told us that access to music education is a global issue, with a range of political and economic factors across continents. “Here in China, it’s a little better because we have to have music lessons in each school, it’s a rule.”

“Music encouraged me to be a better person. It has made me a much more open person, with better communication skills and better skills to open up to the world.

Lang Lang was born in Shenyang, a province in northeast China, in 1982. There was music in his family, and he started learning the piano at the age of three. He says that as he grew, studied and developed, music was the medium he learned about European culture as well.

“I [also] got to know America, Africa and South America. It really broadened my outlook on life and my knowledge of cultural diversity. Thus, from an early age, I had already become a citizen of the world. I have traveled the world, through music.

Although Lang Lang identifies our hectic, material, and data-driven lives as something that can hamper creativity and expression, he believes technology is at the heart of learning and sharing music, and the answer. to the problems of music education.

“I want to find a way to connect with a new generation of artists around the world. And we should be using technology.

The Lang Lang International Music Foundation was created in 2008, and champions the belief that all children should have access to music education and opportunities, regardless of their background. His The keys to inspiration The program is redefining what music education looks like in public schools, providing Roland keyboards and a comprehensive music curriculum to underfunded schools.

He says technology is transforming the way you can teach piano. Traditionally, a piano lesson always had to be a teacher and a student at a piano, he says. Now, thanks to digital technology, a single teacher can simultaneously teach a class of 30.

The virtuoso says the new software helps unleash our imaginations in piano lessons, opens up stories in musical creation and gives students access to virtual orchestras.

“These are amazing. I never had them as a child. We need to find a new formula for learning piano and classical music, and realize that classical music is a lot of fun. He says that you still have to have the hours of practice, “but it’s also learning a script.”

It also explains how, in just over a decade, the internet and streaming have transformed access to classical music and the canon of great artists and recordings.

“In the past, to learn a song, I had to go to the library to find a recording. And sometimes I would find out that all the tapes had been taken down by other students, so I had to come back with nothing. But now you can go to Classic FM’s website or any major social network and find what you’re looking for. And you have the perfect way to learn these great composers and musicians.

And now, the artist with over a million social media followers says that if a student has questions, they can ask them directly to the world’s greatest artists, via social media, YouTube comments or during live online masterclass sessions.

“It’s amazing, and it’s something we’ve never had in the past”

But he also says the sheer amount of information online can be intimidating for young players, and that’s where he hopes the Lang Lang International Music Foundation can help.

“My foundation wants to find the best access points and the best ways to make children feel the passion for music.”

He says there are two branches to what he wants to do. First, bring music to underprivileged schools, hospitals and other places of need. Second, he wants to help find masterclass, performance and chamber music opportunities for emerging musicians.

“We want to find these talented children and give them the opportunity to shine on stage and to shine in their communities.”

Lang Lang and his wife Gina Alice play together in 2020

Lang Lang and his wife Gina Alice are playing together in 2020.

Photo:
Getty


Chinese keyboard superstar got married Gina Alice Redlinger, who is also a classical pianist, in June 2019 during a glamorous ceremony in Paris. In January, they announced the birth of their first child, a baby boy.

And the father was very proud to tell us about another music lover in the family.

“My son is now five months old,” he says, “and he already enjoys listening to classical music. “

“He’s a big fan of Mozart and Bach. I think he’s very musical and I will continue to give him great music to listen to – but that’s it. We like to give him more choices and possibilities in life, and see what he likes.

“Ultimately he wants to be a pianist, I will support him with all my heart – and if not, I will support him with all my heart too.”

You can find out more about the Lang Lang International Music Foundation, what it offers to young musicians and how you can support on their website.



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