Québec schoolchildren have less and less access to culture, and especially to music. This is why François-Mario Labbé, CEO of the Analekta record company, decided to create Mazaam, a new app that supports children’s development with the richness of classical music. Interview.
One of the reasons you launched Mazaam is that you feel the transmission of culture, especially classical music, is increasingly neglected. Why is this happening?
As Kent Nagano said in his latest book: “Classical music could be gone in a generation.” There is a lack of education and access to classical music in Western schools. Since the baby boomer generation, which grew up with the values of postwar reconstruction, science and mathematics have become essential. Everything else has been neglected, particularly the arts. This is the first time in human history that the arts have been separated from science.
I suppose that it’s even more difficult to look for government grants today.
The Government invests a lot less in music education. The arts, and especially music, are the poor relations of our school system. This situation is observed not only in Canada, but everywhere in the Western world. At Analekta, we therefore decided to provide our own solution, by helping young children become aware of the fundamentals of music. The Mazaam app is based on a pedagogical method developed with the Canada Research Chair in Music and Learning at Université Laval. Its creation took two-and-a-half years and required major investments.
So Mazaam’s goal is to offer a tool that exposes children to classical music?
Yes. First we hope to take children out of digital isolation. With Mazaam, little ones discover music very playfully, and their parents accompany them in their approach. By playing, children learn to detect and identify pitch, intensity, timbre or harmony by association. All the music is made with real instruments. It was taken from 600 albums of the Analekta catalogue and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal.
Why do you find it so important to offer them this contact?
For the past 30 years, at Analekta, we have recognized the erosion of classical music all over the world, and especially here in Québec. The sooner music listening is developed in children, the sooner their horizons are opened. We want them to hear our great orchestras, our great soloists, our great composers, and open up to the beauty and grandeur of this music. Then, when they make their own listening choices, classical music will be part of their universe, just like other musical styles. Children are the future ambassadors of classical music!
In the long term, do you hope future generations will be more interested in classical music?
Yes, and millennials already seem to be regaining interest in classical music, because many of them have observed the gaping hole left by previous generations. To excuse those who have abandoned classical music, there was a time when it was the preserve of a right-minded elite, an art reserved for the affluent. At Analekta, we have always thought the opposite. We have simply presented it as music that is beautiful to hear. Other artists have also democratized classical music, such as violinist Angèle Dubeau or the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, with its OSM POP concert series. People mustn’t be afraid to be interested in it!