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Student-composed and Improvised Samba!

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

For the past three months, elementary school youth musicians in our 1st-3rd grade Sibelius Orchestra have been immersing themselves in the musical culture, rhythms, and sounds of Brazil. Their hard work has culminated in a virtual orchestra performance featuring a student-composed Samba, infused with improvisation over this iconic dance form.

Along their musical journey, they took a virtual trip down to South America, thanks to our friends at Teach To Learn (TTL), a global non-profit arts education network that uses music as the educational, creative, and therapeutic foundation for building personal relationships and an online community that empowers people to share what they know and love.

TTL Faculty Henrique Eisenmann, who originally hails from São Paulo worked with BMP students to learn about the history of Brazil and its musical traditions, with an emphasis on Samba and Bossa Nova.

Students had the opportunity to explore concepts of improvisation and rhythm with Eisenmann, an internationally-recognized jazz pianist and jazz piano faculty member at The Juilliard School in New York City, as well as the New England Conservatory in Boston."It was wonderful to see the students engage with a world class pianist and teacher," shared Debbie Apple, BMP Villa-Lobos Orchestra Director. "They were quickly impressed by his playing and enjoyed hearing about how he began his musical journey at a similar age as our students."

The music and rhythms of Brazilian music are heavily percussive, which allowed students to explore rhythms that are not normally found in elementary string books. "The most exciting part of Samba project was to be able to share something fresh with the students," shared Bengisu Gokce, BMP Sibelius Orchestra Director. "This was a new musical style from another country and culture with different challenging rhythms and melodies. Reflecting on this journey, it is clear to me that the students gained a better understanding of difficult rhythmic patterns and notation. It was also fun to see how eager they were to improvise their own melodies!"

Beyond the notes and rhythms, having the opportunity to collaborate and learn from our guest artist was also empowering for our young musicians. Newbold Orchestra Director Michael Simon added, "Having the opportunity for our students to explore various musical topics from talented guest artists, like Henrique, was a powerful way to elevate their overall musical curiosity and outlook." Ms. Gokce added, "meeting and learning from artists inspires young people to see an example of what they could be in the future; well-spoken, confident, talent musicians, and good people."

Teach to Learn is a global arts education and mentorship network, leveraging the power of technology to provide access to human and cultural resources and to nurture a more connected and creative world. Their mission is to build a global community based on the principle that knowledge is a currency which strengthens our common humanity. They seek to enrich our participants' lives through reinforcing concepts such as cultural competency, entrepreneurship, and global citizenship. Teach to Learn has supported over 500 students in over 20 countries, and continues to have transformational impact in communities and classrooms throughout the Greater Boston region and around the world.

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