The dedication of Brazilian and foreign professionals keeps São Conrado school going strong

(Original article in Portuguese: )

The dedication of Brazilian and foreign professionals keeps São Conrado school going strong

20 years of love for music


08/06/2014 6:00

Celebrating. Students and monitors between teacher Vanessa Rodrigues (left) and coordinator Simone Ferreira (wine-coloured pants) – Agência O Globo / Guilherme Leporace

During the last week, the Rocinha Music School (Escola de Música da Rocinha – EMR), maintained by the city government in the Rinaldo de Lamare municipal building, celebrated 20 years of activities with an intense programme. There were 20 presentations, among them concerts, lectures, and performances for students and for the community. Simone Ferreira, one of the coordinators who was a student and monitor at the school, has worked in other places but never stopped coming back to the EMR.

—I’ve been here since 1996, almost 20 years as well. We love it here, we work with a lot of love and affection for the school. In the years when we don’t have a sponsor, we can’t even pay for snacks and transportation for the teachers who, in the past, were also students here – affirms the coordinator.
Simone tells us that the EMR was founded by music educator Hans Koch, who dreamed of a social project in underprivileged communities, and returned to his native Germany after establishing the school.

— Everyone who has come through here carries a very positive legacy. Many are studying music in university, which wouldn’t have been possible without the school; this is what inspires us the most. One student defended her thesis on the EMR. And the band Chorando à Toa, which is entirely made up of our young students and plays melancholy choro music, has already performed internationally – she tells us proudly.

Serving [the shanty towns of] Rocinha and Vidigal, the school, in addition to teaching, lends instruments such as cavaquinhos (a small ukulele-like Brazilian guitar), acoustic guitars, recorders and various percussion instruments to the students. Now courses in orchestral instruments are also offered as of a year and a half ago.

— These instruments require a lot of maintenance, which can get expensive. Because we had never had teachers trained in violin, cello and double bass, we brought in foreign instructors, like Vanessa Rodrigues, who after discovering us never returned to her home country, Canada – says Simone Ferreira

Vanessa tells us that in 2011 she played in the Carnaval parade with the drum corps of the Acadêmicos da Rocinha samba school, and there she heard about the work of the EMR and was enthralled. “I found out there were a whole lot of string instruments stored here and nobody was playing them. As I have a background in string orchestra, I offered to volunteer to teach string lessons. I returned to Canada, organized the paperwork, and in 2012 I came to stay. The friendliness of the people, the weather, the music, the culture and the celebrations in the street here really won me over” she confesses.

Lessons are free for public school students from 6-17 years of age. Those who wish to donate may do so through the school’s website

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