German band has Warren High students at fever pitch

DOWNEY - This Tuesday, a total of 1,500 students taking German at 21 high schools representing different school districts, including three busloads of 150 "excited" German students from Warren High School, will congregate at the Millikan High School auditorium in Long Beach to attend the much-anticipated German rock concert featuring one of Germany's top indie rock bands, Madsen.Madsen is on a five-week, 13-concert U.S. tour, titled "Mad About Madsen," organized by the Goethe Institut ("Germany's global cultural center") in San Francisco. The band consists of the three Madsen brothers and bassist Niko Maurer, all of them said to hail from rural North Germany. According to a press release from Millikan High German teacher and event coordinator Antje Peterie, the band, which plays a blend of pop, rock and punk music, has since its formation in 2004 released four albums, including a number of top-ten hits on the German charts, and has been nominated for Germany's biggest radio award as Best Live Act, as well as for the "German Grammy", the Echo Award. The anticipation is therefore nearing fever-pitch. It was learned that all 1,500 tickets to the show were snapped up two weeks after the Long Beach "once-in-a-lifetime" concert was announced. For Warren High German students, it is a first. Accompanying the kids is their German teacher, Dominique Drechsler, who has been teaching all levels of German (1, 2, 3 and AP) at Warren since 2002, and was last year appointed world languages department chair. She grew up in Downey, attending OLPH (K-8) and graduated from Warren herself, class of 1989. She actually began her teaching career at DUSD in 1996. Drechsler says German is in great demand: her classes average 36 students. She said her classes focus on German culture and history, as well as a lot of reading/comprehension through a combination of film, music, "and a large dose of classical pieces." With the arrival of Madsen, her students will get a rare treat, she said, of a real life German band. For them, it's literally, as Antje Peterie said, 'the event of the year'. Peterie, who actually is a resident of Downey, said much the same thing: her classes at Mullikan are supposed to top out at 31 students, but she sometimes has 40 in her class. She said: "By learning German, the students really have an edge in the job market and make themselves more marketable. Germany is the second largest trading partner of the U.S. and is the strongest economy in Europe. Germany is top notch in the car industry, technology, and science areas - any engineer and import/export company will attest to this - and many German companies operate in the U.S. There are not many people who speak English and German. Colleges love to see that students are able to break away from the crowd and do something different and challenging; the fact is that English is a Germanic language and the languages are very close." "The goal of the Madsen tour is threefold," she said, "first, to promote an innovative approach to foreign language learning that focuses on music instead of dull grammar drills; secondly, to challenge the most common stereotypes about Germany; and thirdly, to offer a more diverse and authentic image of Germany today. We want Madsen to help spread the word that German is cool and exciting. Germany today is more than Lederhosen, Oktoberfest and WWII." According to Peterie, parking could be an irritant on the day of the concert, which starts at 10:30 a.m. Millikan buses will likely be parked ahead of the anticipated additional 23 buses coming from all over. "The majority of the buses may end up parking on the side streets nearby," she said. "While the concert is free, we will bear the cost of transporting our 150 students to Millikan High," said Drechsler, whose parents originally came from Bavaria (her mom still lives in Downey). "Even as we speak, we're holding a fundraiser here at Warren, selling lip balm to teachers, staff and students. We expect no problem, though, we need only to raise $1,000 to pay for the trip."

********** Published: November 03, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 29