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The Rhythm of Recess

DW staff (ncy)October 12, 2005

A German piano professor has devised a way to get kids into classical music. On Wednesday, pupils in Saarlouis discovered their school bell had been replaced by fragments from Europe's greatest composers.

Taking an orchestral breakImage: dpa

"It's a relief," 13-year-old Julien Blass told news broadcaster n-tv. "If you've had a tough math assignment beforehand, it makes you happy afterwards." Blass was referring to the up to 20-second segments of classical music that tell students at the Gymnasium am Stadtgarten high school in the city of Saarlouis, near the French border, when lessons and between-class breaks start and end.

Wednesday started with a snippet from George Bizet's opera "Carmen." Dubbed "Klassik statt Klingel" (Classics instead of the bell), the new program is meant to promote musical education among kids. Its creator, Robert Leonardy, head of the Saar Music Festival and a piano professor, compiled a CD of 200 classic jingles, from Verdi's "Aida" to Theodorakis' "Zorba the Greek," to teach students the fundamentals of his genre.

"For the first time, you engage 100 percent of the pupils at a time when, at best, three percent of people regularly listen to classical music," the maestro explained.

Back to basics

Robert Leonardy
Robert LeonardyImage: dpa

Leonardy (photo) is hopeful that his idea will catch on nationwide. He estimates that after two or three years of being exposed to the music every day at school, the students will have a basic knowledge of classical music.

But perhaps he's a bit optimistic.

Julien Blass and his schoolmate Saskia Philippi were, in any case, skeptical after their first day of classical jingles. Neither of them thought the tunes would inspire them to listen to classical music at home, they told n-tv. And Blass was pretty sure he'd never make his way to a classical concert.

And for those kids who loath going to school in the first place, associating classical music with their daily grind could just turn them off Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Co. forever.