Lang Lang says he’s giving $5 million to US music education

From an interview on the Forbes promo site:

Interviewer: You’ve just pledged $5 million to help kids learn to play the piano. That’s an incredible donation! Why don’t you tell me a bit about it?

Lang Lang: It’s with my foundation, the Lang Lang International Music Foundation. We give $1 million to the American public schools every year from the last three years to the next five years.

IV: So this donation has already commenced.

Lang Lang: Yeah, it’s already started. We are going forward this next year, the next five years, with a $1 million donation. Our aim is to bring music education back to the States, to the public schools in the U.S.

IV: What made this the best time to commit to that?

Lang Lang: Music changed my life and I think there are so many talented students in the U.S. and they need our help to get proper music education. There’s new technology for piano method and music method, so we’re not only doing the hardware, we’re also building the software with the new books with new methods of playing piano, with smart electronic pianos, with very well trained music teachers and great visiting artists from around the world.


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  • This is a publicity stunt. Why not donate to poorer countries? But of course that wouldn’t provide a fraction of the media hype and visibility. And how much of $x million put into the US school system actually achieves the intended result rather than disappearing in the bureaucratic labyrinth and the pockets of middlemen.

    • On the contrary, donating to poorer countries would provide much more media hype and visibility. The music media love a good ‘saving the poor’ story. And how many ‘middlemen’ are there in the US public school system? I think it’s commendable that he’s putting the money into public schools rather than creating his own little program to produce a few little Lang Lang disciples.

    • It might be better to donate to poorer countries, but the US has no shortage of poverty, and its music education at schools leaves a lot to be desired.

      I’d rather debate why piano and why technology. Learning an instrument should not the beginning of a child’s music education. It should come at the tip of a child’s music education pyramid. It should start more naturally with song and dance at a young age.

      Regardless, Lang Lang’s initiative could still produce significant positive results.

      • In general good post . But as LL’s interview above indicates, it’s not only about pianos and piano lessons.

        As he wrote above: “There’s new technology for piano method and music method, so we’re not only doing the hardware, we’re also building the software with the new books with new methods of playing piano, with smart electronic pianos, with very well trained music teachers and great visiting artists from around the world.”

        I’m not so sure that song and dance is that simple either and why you seem to think the piano is at the apex of the pyramid is not clear. Probably the first musical instincts are percussive: beating the drum, and in fact, the piano is a percussion instrument.

        • Singing and drumming are not so constrained but technical limitations. They provide opportunities for the children to be expressive and develop a sense of rhythm. They can develop a better musical imagination before facing the technical challenges of learning an instrument.

          Yes, the piano is percussive, but not as accessible to a young child as, say, rattling or drumming instruments.

          Moreover, child should have a chance to select their instrument, not jump on the piano by default.

          On the other hand, the piano is so popular that it would be many childrens’ first choice anyway.

          All those thoughts aside, Lang Lang project will provide access to music training to more children. He should be celebrated for his generosity.

    • Yes, it really is unforgivable of him to give to some cause that he considers important, without checking with you first to see if it’s OK.

      Let me guess: if he gave $5m to “poorer countries” (which anyway are often run by corrupt dictators who are likely to put the money directly into their own bank accounts), you’d be after him for choosing the wrong country — why Ethiopia? Why not South Sudan? — and to the wrong resource — why medicine? Why not food? — and the wrong programs — why Doctors Without Borders? Why not Oxfam? — and not giving enough — why only $5 million? Why not $10/ 20/ 50 million?

      And so on.

      No doubt my guesses are all wrong, since you are clearly above that type of behavior.

    • Why not do as you are wishing he did? Post how much you’ve given so we can also praise you and know that your post is sincere.

  • Damn the cynics who look for any reason to display their snark and unhappiness with everything. This is a fantastic gesture and I’m sure many children will be grateful for it.

  • Would be interesting to know where the $millions come from. Hardly from his mediocre performances of Rondo alla Turk. Who are the real sources, one might ask?

    • LL has obviously been more successful financially than you. That probably is the source of your angst.

      It’s nice to see someone at the top of his profession and art give back to young people in public schools. Note it is not only about piano instruction as his interview points out.

      This is a great and generous act.

  • LL, thanks to you and your foundation. Although I personally see good healthy music education in public schools during my travels, there are indeed many areas and pockets where budgets have fallen and music has been stripped from the young student’s education and daily life. There was a time post WWII when it was fashionable for people to have pianos in their homes and piano lessons. Things do cycle, and, hopefully, your foundation support toward this will be helpful in many ways.

  • I hope this doesn’t go into producing more of those inane courses that are devoted to classical music for a month and then the Beatles and rock for the rest of the semester!

    • I took one of those in college “Bach to Beatles”. Covered all of classical music in one month and devoted the rest of the time to the Beatles. Such a disgrace.

  • Of course when you get a generous gesture you always get some cynics who want to read the worst into it. They are often the people who never usually give anything anyway! But if LL wants to give $5 million away, bully for him!

  • I hope he can leverage some attention seeking philanthropists to pile on and follow this donation. For every Lang Lang dollar, there should be 20 dollars of other peoples’ money to leverage this cause up! Great cause!

  • This is a superb thing to do. And it’s for PUBLIC school education in America, where the arts do not so often get the kind of support they need. Thank you!

  • Like public education in America gets anyone interested in anything.

    Just think back to what public school was like for you as a kid without overlaying it with romanticized BS.
    Pushing funds for music into public schools doesn’t do any good at the least in my opinion.

    • It got me interesting in math and music, the twin loves of my life. I received a TERRIFIC education in US public schools. The problem isn’t the schools, it’s the culture. Serious musicians aren’t lionized in the media nor in the home, with the exception of some highly-educated parents and many Asian ones, who are essentially all winners of local children’s competitions.

      Regardless, although I don’t care for LL’s clownish antics, it’s inexplicable that people can find something negative to say about doing something rather than nothing, or relative to what they believe is the “best” use of the funds.

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