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Lang Lang interview: Parents should not be pushy
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Lang Lang interview: Parents should not be pushy

The Chinese superstar pianist Lang Lang, whose own demanding father almost pushed him to suicide, is on a mission to change the way children are taught

2:00PM BST 19 Sep 2014

When Lang Lang begins to play the piano, everything suddenly makes sense. The Chinese superstar cannot quite find the words to say what he means in English, so reaches for the keys of a Steinway piano close by. His fingers flutter through a breathtakingly beautiful passage of Ravel and his meaning becomes clear: this music is not work to him but a means of escape, from the difficulties of language, from his relentless touring schedule and from all the people who want a piece of the Lang Lang brand.

“When I was a kid I was too shy,” he says. “Music became a kind of communication. Through piano, a lot of people can start to understand what I am thinking.”

It was his escape from the fierce pressure put on him as a small child, a tiny prodigy carrying the weight of his parents’ hopes and dreams and forced to practise scales and exercises for hour after hour. His father was a brutal taskmaster. Once, after a perceived failure, he even tried to make Lang Lang commit suicide out of shame.

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