The power of the note: how music facilitates inclusion

By Laura TomassiniLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

A music school for everyone, choirs that unite, a boy who just wants to sing – music knows no barriers, because whether it's hummed, whistled, sung or played: songs simply touch everyone and are the language that everybody speaks, also people with disabilities.

"Ech si geblockt, lo muss ech mir rem Hëllef froen. [..] Zu wéi vill si mir am selwechte Fall? Staat denk no." ("I'm blocked, I have to ask for help again. […] How many are in the same situation as me? State, think about it.") It's actually "just" a line from the song "Den Chronometer leeft" – a song with a repetitive beat and a whispered "tick-tock" between the verses. For Leandro Afonso Pinto, however, the message behind it is much stronger than the catchy nature of his track. "As you can see, the building here is not barrier-free and not accessible to wheelchair users like me without assistance. I wanted to change something with my solo project 'Big L on the Road'. Not to criticise the state, but to make it aware of some things, " says Leandro.

Stairs in front of a shop, a pavement that is too high, a youth centre without a lift: many places are not made for people with a disability, almost as if they are not welcome there. This appearance is deceptive at the Escher youth centre, because this is exactly where Leandro has found his passion and a second family. "No one has ever said to me that I can't come in here. I don't get any funny looks, on the contrary: at the beginning, Chris [one of the carers, editor's note] even told me that I wasn't an extra sausage!" explains Leandro with a laugh.

Music as a mouthpiece

For around seven years, the 22-year-old guy from Esch has been coming to the ornate Maison Meder, one of the few art nouveau buildings in Luxembourg whose activities are entirely dedicated to young people. Leandro's brother dragged the then teenager, who spent his free time gambling, along to the other boys and girls in the community, who welcomed Leandro into their midst with open arms. The result was a true love story: between new friends, but also between Leandro and music.

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