PHOTO: Lang Lang Piano Book
I've been playing many of the pieces contained within Lang Lang Piano Book and enjoying it immensely. It's a collection of 29 pieces that Lang Lang studied when he started learning to play the piano. He refers to this collection as his first love ... "the pieces that made me want to become a musician in the first place."
I love the way the book looks and feels. The pages are creamy, not stark-white. And there's a red ribbon that can be used to mark a particular place in the book.
Several of the pieces in this collection are familiar to me because they had at one time or another been assigned to me by my piano teacher, Mr. Brooks. Mr. Brooks was my piano teacher from my junior high days all throughout high school. His wife, Mrs. Brooks was a violinist and teacher of violin who taught my late brother, Jinil. Our father arranged it so that each week at the agreed upon time, Jinil and I would travel to their home and Jinil would take his violin lesson in one room of the house with Mrs. Brooks and I would take my piano lesson in a different room with Mr. Brooks.
There were many moments when I wanted to quit. So did Jinil. One reason was because practicing was not fun. I hated it. Jinil hated it. Another reason is because learning a new piece was really hard. But my father was old-school. We weren't allowed to quit for such reasons.
Thirty some years later, as I find myself able to play the beautiful pieces in this collection, I realize that sometimes, short-sighted acts (like quitting something because it's hard) shortchange the beauty of what can emerge in the long-term, by not quitting.
At the end of the book, there are pages from some of his actual practice books where his teacher wrote endearing tips and reminders like: "Don't just play, feel the notes softly come out from your fingers and heart" and "Good pedaling makes real poetry."
Mr. Brooks used to write similar sentiments in my books. I'm grateful to have received such sophisticated and nuanced messages throughout my life from my music teachers (both past and present) and through music itself.