By Georgie Hay, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Social Action for Music of Brazil (ASMB), an NGO supported by RioSolidario and the Department of Culture, aims to achieve social inclusion through classical music education for children, adolescents and young residents in socially vulnerable communities. According to government sources, the organization currently reaches approximately a thousand students from twenty communities with Pacifying Police Units (UPPs).
The organization has three core orchestras: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Students who excel and want to be professional musicians are invited to participate in the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro. Students have private lessons and an incentive scholarship to study for.
A video posted on the internet has highlighted the presence of cellists Thaís Ferreira and Jonas Bispo in the project El Sistema in Venezuela in October. Teacher and student of ASMB, the duo represented the country in the Binational Orchestra, made up of two hundred members including 55 Brazilians. The concert was one of 265 in 2015, with the participation of ASMB.
Resident of the community of Babilônia, in Leme, Jonas Bispo, eighteen, explained how his life has changed since he started playing. “I’ve never participated in a professional orchestra and debut on El Sistema, playing Brazilian and Venezuelan music, was a great experience I want to repeat other times,” said the musician, who has participated in the project for four years.
Among the special presentations in 2015, the pedagogical coordinator of Social Action, Julio Camargo, said the concerts also took place in guided tours of the Guanabara Palace, the Municipal Theater and in communities with UPPs. “The trend is we form new nuclei in the state so that more children and adolescents have this opportunity,” Camargo said.
Morro dos Macacos resident in Vila Isabel, Luiz Pereira, fifteen, has played the piano since he was ten and is the only student in the community who plays the transverse flute in the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro. “Music is everything to me, brings more wisdom and ability to overcome problems,” said the young man.
“Social Action for Music is a great initiative,” says Australian expatriate Bel Casson of Caminhos Language Centre in Ipanema. “Ultimately it’s about teaching children and adolescents about classical music but inadvertently they are also learning things like: social discipline, how to apply their creative skills, patience, and social interaction.”
She adds, “Some of these children in the communities don’t have a high level of education so all of these skills are much needed. It’s a great avenue for underprivileged children who want to develop their music skills but don’t know how.”