Playful music education

In 2017 Les Talens Lyriques launched three new apps that they hope will captivate children and encourage them to learn about classical music. Founder Christophe Rousset tells Andrew Anderson how they work

Many ensembles do admirable work in schools, opening the world of classical music to young minds. They run school chamber groups, offer one-to-one tuition and even perform recitals alongside the students.

Christophe Rousset © Ignacio Barrios
Christophe Rousset © Ignacio Barrios

Most of the time these programmes are expensive to run and success frequently comes on the back of long-term commitment. But what if there were a cheaper and quicker way to give kids a taste of classical music? Les Talens Lyriques (LTL) founder Christophe Rousset believes there is, and it’s called t@lenschool.

Launched in September 2017, t@lenschool is a series of three apps that allow anyone – not just children – to have a deep and instant engagement with classical music. The app range is free to download from the App Store.

“We’ve worked with schools for a few years, educating young people about classical music – especially baroque repertoire,” says Rousset, as he explains the origins of the concept. “Then we had the idea of creating something more playful that works on devices people are already familiar with: using a tablet is easy and appealing for young people.”

The first app, Play Together, allows students to perform as an ensemble. “We recorded and filmed every single instrument in isolation,” explains Rousset, a harpsichordist. “Using the tablets they can then play each instrument together, with one person acting as conductor. It helps them understand how the music is made and how each part works in unison to create a beautiful piece of art.”

The second, Composer, enables students to assemble a piece of classical music using variations recorded by Les Talens Lyriques, which “allows them to create a huge variety of pieces from a few simple parts.”

The  third  app,  Interpreter,  focuses  on  the  harpsichord.  “I  recorded a  number of pieces in a variety of styles,” says Rousset. “The app allows students to accentuate certain parts and make the recording faster or slower. This means they create their own interpretation by improvising with my playing. They see the score passing at the same time as the music is playing, so they can really follow the curve of the piece.”

How have students responded? “They love it because they are active in their learning,” enthuses Rousset. “It’s not just sitting in a classroom and listening to a teacher giving a lesson, they are part of the music. That’s how it really excites them.”

A number of schools have already made use of t@lenschool, with LTL promoting it at concerts and through their website. As for recognition, the app received two awards from News Tank at Université Paris-Dauphine and has also been nominated for Classical:NEXT’s Innovation Award 2018.

The full interview appeared in the May 2018 edition of IAM.