Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thank you to Rowena Smith and Ridgewood School

Brass instruments are extremely expensive in Brazil, more than twice the price of instruments in the UK. A big part of the project, then, is getting hold of instruments for the children. All of the instruments in the project are second-hand instruments from the UK which were then either donated or bought cheap on eBay, and taken over by plane.

This Christmas we received a particularly generous donation of instruments from Ridgewood school in Doncaster. The donation came about when John Ellis, director of Doncaster Youth Jazz Association, mentioned the project at one of the band's rehearsals. Trombonist Rowena Smith, from Ridgewood School, immediately responded that Ridgewood school had some old instruments that had served their purpose at the school, and that might be available for donation. In the end, the school ended up donating 1 euphonium, 3 tenor horns, 1 trumpet, 1 trombone, a glockenspiel, 2 cymbals and 3 clarinets to the project. To buy those instruments in Brazil would be very expensive indeed.

In addition, Rowena also donated an extremely nice second-hand cornet.

Most of the instruments have now made their way to Brazil (thank you to Dave and Shelagh Richardson for helping with this), and the rest will be brought over by friends coming to Brazil for the World Cup. It's a very generous donation and one that will hopefully make a big difference in the lives of children who would otherwise be very unlikely ever to have the opportunity to play a wind instrument.

Thank you very much Rowena Smith and Ridgewood school!

Curry Clube

A principal source of funding for the project comes from an Indian food event called the Curry Clube. Perhaps a little explanation is in order...

I moved to Rio in 2008, having previously lived in Wembley, a predominantly Indian neighborhood of London, where I could always get a great curry. Rio doesn’t have much in the way of Indian food, and after a year the withdrawal
symptoms became too much to bear and I started learning how to cook my own curries via internet recipes. I began cooking for my housemates weekly, and then more friends started coming, then people that I didn’t know, so eventually I ended up charging. In 2013 I decided to up the prices a bit and use the profit from Curry Clube to fund Favela Brass.

We've done Curry Clube in various different configurations - with live jazz music, live samba music, at my house, at other peoples' houses, weekly, and monthly. At present Curry Clube happens at the same place as the Favela Brass music lessons (my house in the Pereirão favela) and we do it on Sunday evenings once a month. We're combining our curry with an informal live samba jam at the moment, and are trying to get the children playing at the event as much as possible.

To come to Curry Clube, you have to keep an eye on the Curry Clube facebook page for when the next event is. It's then just a matter of getting here:

Getting to Curry Clube, Part One:

The first thing is getting yourself to the entrance to our favela ("Pereirão") at Rua Almirante Alexandrino, 2023 (they always put the house number after the street number in Brazil). Two ways to do it:

1. Take a taxi. To help the taxi driver, Almirante Alexandrino 2023 is between ("entre") the "hospital do quarto centenário" and the "Largo da França" in the Santa Teresa district, near to the favela "Fallet" (pronounced "fa-letch").
2. Take a bus. Perhaps only an option for people who are living in Rio and have a bit of local knowledge. You take the 006 or 007 from Centro, Lapa or Santa Teresa and ask to get off at Fallet.

Getting to Curry Clube, Part Two:

Once at Almirante Alexandrino 2023, you walk up the ramp from the street, then when you come to the big set of gates with "Assunção Cenam" written on them at the top, you follow the path that goes past the gates and up to the right. You then continue on this path up, then down, and my house (casa 13) is on the right just after a small church "capela" on the right hand side. If all that sounds a bit complicated, you can also see the journey as a sequence of photos on facebook:

If in any doubt, once in the favela just ask any of the locals for "casa do Tom" and they'll point you in the right direction.

Curry clube was also recently featured on, Tom Le Mesurier's excellent blog all about what to do in Rio.

Friday, 18 April 2014

First Lesson Recorded with new GoPro Camera

We now have a miniature GoPro video camera that teachers can wear on their heads to record lessons. Here's a clip from yesterday's lessons:

Friday, 4 April 2014

New Volunteer Zélie Denis

Favela Brass has a new volunteer brass teacher! Parisienne Zélie Denis recently graduated from the Versailles school of architecture and has been in Rio since February, living in favela Pereirão just down the road from the project. After a visit to Curry Clube last month, Zélie expressed an interest in teaching at the project and gave her first lessons yesterday. Back in Paris, Zélie plays trumpet with a brass band called Les Jacky Parmentier (she also plays tuba and flute), and from July to September will also take part in another international music education project for children called the Ooga Chaka Brass Band Project.

Thank you very much for choosing to help us out Zélie, and welcome to the project!