I just finished reading Journey of a Thousand Miles: My Story by Lang Lang with David Ritz. This book literally drew me in from the first to the very last page. I did not want to put it down. When I had to put it down, because life was calling, I wondered what would happen next in this great classical pianist’s story. There was not a moment of disappointment.
As I read of his struggles and the extreme sacrifices his parents made to help him master the piano and the passion he himself has for music I was inspired. Honestly, it made me want to rush to the piano and practice – sincerely practice. And that’s exactly what I did several times in between chapters.
“Hearing” Lang Lang tell his story of being a piano student in China was mind-boggling at times because it is so different from the way we do it in America. There is a different depth to the process of musical learning and commitment to the craft than what I have experienced. It makes me wonder what kind of musician I would be if I had grown up in China. Would I be happy? I’m not sure. Would I be exceptionally skillful? Maybe. Lang Lang points out some wonderful differences that Americans have culturally as well. The freedom to be yourself, to express yourself in unique ways is one thing that Lang Lang speaks of discovering once he came to America. I enjoyed reading between these two worlds through Lang Lang’s eyes.
One of my favorite quotes from the book:
“Remember, it is easy to be a pianist, all you have to do is move your fingers. But to be a great pianist you have to use your mind.”
I think this is a great read for every piano student, piano teacher, and piano parent.