Lucinda Ali Landing hails from a lineage of musicians: her grandmother was a pianist, her father was a violinist and was her first violin teacher, her sister is a cellist, and her 3 daughters are string musicians. Her classical career has included awards and recognitions at an early age, as well as a full college tuition scholarship to study with Pierre Menard and the Vermeer Quartet. She’s currently a violinist with the renowned Chicago Sinfonietta (hailed for its lifelong commitment to diversity, inclusion, and innovative programming) and the Illinois Philharmonic. She has also performed with notable artists and entertainers Ray Charles, Barry White, The Winans, Brian McKnight, Oprah Winfrey, Three Mo Tenors, and Ben Vereen, among others.
She and her husband Gregory are parents to daughters Adjedmaa, 20, Ifetayo, 18, and Kai Isoke, 11, who goes by “Kai Kai” They make their home in the historic South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. All 3 of their children have been homeschooled. Adjedmaa attends Lawrence University in WI as a viola performance major, Ifetayo attends Colburn School in LA as a cello performance major, and Kai Kai is a homeschooled middle schooler who plays the violin. Ali Landing describes her family’s homeschool philosophy as African centered.
“We listen to African music, study the African descended scholars, we do world culture, and not Eurocentric things.”
Commitment to Music Education and Supporting Parents
Ali Landing is the Executive Director of the Hyde Park Suzuki Institute a community music school she founded 22 years ago in 1998 in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. The school is home to numerous Chicago area families seeking private string and piano instruction as well as small group ensembles for their kids and teens. Since spring, the school has pivoted to provide virtual lessons and continued Ali Landing’s weekly parent support group online, an offering that Ali-Landing has led for the last 20 years.
Her latest book, “Done is Better Than Perfect”, is a digital re-issue of her original practice book created 16 years ago to aid her daughters’ music lessons. The book assists parents who might not possess the musical vocabulary to assist their child, and need an organized method for private lesson note-taking: a component that’s essential to the Suzuki method of instruction. In addition to the book, Ali Landing also offers online courses to assist parents in navigating the journey of music instruction.
“We sold the book at the music school, and that hard copy was bound. All the information is the same as the original. But, now it’s available for download, fillable digitally, or can be printed,” she says.
Each set of pages include positive affirmations that speak to the challenges of being the parent of a musician. The book addresses 3 basic factors at the heart of productive practice:
What do I need to practice?
How should I practice it?
How long should I work on it?
Racial Justice Healing in the Music Industry
In addition to her work as an educator at HPSI, Ali Landing has started a new initiative in response to this summer’s BLM protests and racial justice dialogues. The Truth Racial Healing and Transformation Initiative sessions aim to help white-identifying music educators understand the ideas and goals of diversity, help them learn about race and culture in America, and acknowledge how this informs diversity efforts and programming.
A friend of hers had been involved in this work and Ali Landing says she felt that she wanted to make more of an impact personally. After hosting the first session, which turned out to be full, she trained as a facilitator and has been co-hosting the sessions every Sunday since July.
“The classroom is full. Very often it’s the same people, but sometimes it’s different people. But, it’s mostly new people. Hopefully it’s the catalyst to continue to do their own work,” she explains.
Ali Landing believes diversity, equity, and inclusion training should become part of the curriculum for music educators, especially in the U.S. where teachers work with a diverse group of musicians with varied lived experiences and having faced systemic injustice in education.
“How do you really have DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion)? In classical music, you have teacher training. But after your pedagogy class, how do you obtain cultural awareness and sensitivity?”