Monday, 26 January 2015

Designing our Favela Brass T-Shirts with Rosa Vento

Today we received a visit from Leticia, Priscila and Acsa from Rosa Vento, a creative studio space in the Largo do Machado neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Leticia, Priscila and Acsa have very kindly offered to create a design for our forthcoming Favela Brass t-shirts and came to the project to get feedback from the children on six different possibilities for designs. Having looked at designs we put it to a vote and the children came to a pretty much unanimous decision about which one they liked best - watch this space!

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


We're very privileged to have as our percussion teacher Carlos "Manguerinha" São Vicente, director of percussion at the Vila Isabel samba school, universally respected professional musician, and music teacher with more than 10 years of experience.

As well having mastered the musical and pedagogical side of giving lessons, including a thorough knowledge of the o Passo method of rhythmic teaching, Mangueirinha is great at teaching and dealing with kids. He's definitely of the "firm but fair" school of teaching but also manages to create a fun atmosphere in the lessons as well and always establishes a good rapport with the children. Anyone who wants to learn how to work with groups of children could do much worse than watch a lesson with Mangueirinha.

Mangueirinha grew up in the "Morro dos Macacos" favela in the North of Rio and also discovered his talent for music as a youngster through local social projects. Thanks to this experience he understands our students very well - their motivations, their outlook, their every-day environment and experiences. When it comes time to communicate with the children to try to motivate them, inspire them, or work on their behaviour, this deep understanding of their perspective is priceless.

Yesterday Mangueirinha brought his students from the Projeto Tô Ligado course to participate in the first rehearsal of our bloco in the run up to our shows at Rio Carnival next month. Watching the video below you don't need to speak Portuguese to understand what a great teacher Mangueirinha is and how important he is to the project:

Nice one, Mangueirinha!!!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

English Lessons

The hope is that Favela Brass will continue to make more and more international links. Coupling that with the fact that most of our teachers speak English (many as a first language), it seemed to make sense to throw a bit of English teaching into the lessons as well. One activity we do is a simple vocabulary learning exercise where the children take a list of words and then create their own slideshow using google images. Today was the first English lesson since November, but in the video below it seems pretty clear that students Gabriella, Vinícius, Victor Hugo and Lorena haven't forgotten hardly anything. Kids...

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Thank You Sigrún and Icelandic Friends!

Favela Brass has a new live-in volunteer brass teacher! Sigrún Kristbjörg (centre in the picture below) is an Icelandic trombone and violin player who, following three visits to Rio over the last five years, has decided to return this year for a longer stay (and why not!) and luckily for us has also decided to stay here in the music school and teach brass three times a week.

Before coming out to Brazil, Sigrún also raised funds and secured various donations of brass accessories for the project.

Össur Geirsson, director of the school wind band in the Icelandic town of Kópavogur donated two mouthpieces, and Icelandic music store Tónastöðin donated various different teaching aids, more mouthpieces, and enough valve oil and cork grease to last us well into the next century!

(Above: Andrés and Kiddi from Tónastöðin)

Personal donations from Harpa Jóhannsdóttir, Guðrún Úlfhildur Grímsdóttir, Finnbogi Óskarsson and Steinar Guðmundsson allowed us to buy a selection of what are known as "breathing devices" - gadgets which help teach good breathing habits for musicians.

During Sigrún's first lesson yesterday we tried out one of these devices, which teaches breath control by having students blow into a tube to keep a small polystyrene ball in the air for as long as possible, and it worked a treat. Definitely a great way to get kids thinking about their breathing.

An extra brass teacher at the project is going to make a big difference, as will all of the accessories and teaching aids that Sigrún has brought with her. Thank you ever so much to our Icelandic friends for the generous donations, and welcome to the project Sigrún!