Travelling Home

Travelling Back

Up at 5 for cake and coffee before heading to the airport. Only Evany is awake and comes along for the ride!

Stopping in Brasilia I ride into the centre which is quite extraordinary in it’s simplicity of government design. At the Museum there is an exhibition that shows the terror of the destruction of the Amazon. Here are some of the images…


This is not something we can ignore any more and later talking with Jez on Skype from the airport he remarks on the power of the image that we wrote about earlier – driving form 8 hours through land that was once all forest. I wonder how this project can work on this in any way ?

Ronda de Artistas


This is our day for thinking about the processes and events and considering how we might take them forward. We sit at the kitchen table and make a light list of topics and in doing so start to discover different words that we use. Memory or documentation, formacion or training, gestours or creatives, mediators or partners. Dan’s pedagogy is developed and thought through and has taken many years to develop into a complete and reflective process. In the same way as me and Kathryn have been thinking over the last few weeks we have a very complete and well considered methodology though it may not be quite written down in the same way. We look at the finances, the recordings, press and photos. Images and music are a critical aspect and a great deal of care is taken to make sure that there can be no misunderstanding from the community. When there is such continual and massive exploitation of the Amazonian region there has to be transparency and consent for anything that is taken away. I delete all the photos that Dan has taken and that have not been approved by the community and these will be sent at some point in the future. I share the key concepts and themes that Kathryn and I identified before she left – these include the following

Transformation of community through cultural activity : Youth leadership and empowerment : The creation of democratic space : Communication of pedagogy : New aspects of reflection : Intercultural development

We then work through the sessions one by one with us both giving critical thoughts about processes and trying to imagine futures. It is extensive and I hope it will help me to make a simple but effective report.

Lunch at home and then a walk in the heat to shop for a few instruments and a pandeiro to enable me to continue to learn and develop my new found skill!

Artists discussion

The evening is to be back in Botteglia’s gallery where there will be a ‘ronda de artistas’ . I have prepared a slide show that includes Morecambe work (with a particular emphasis on how we fund the work and sustain the building) and the Maraba process (with a focus on the young people and ideas for  the future of the project).

There are 9 people and it is intimate. We start by sharing thoughts and stories about our relationship to music and then each sing a song or a poem.


It is gentle, thoughtful and Evany and Matheus listen with a mature attitude.


The slide show mixes images and songs and provokes questions of all sorts that we try to answer. This group of people are trying to imagine a city that will survive and develop culturally despite the potential negative impact of the new rich people who will inevitably invade. After the slides show we talk and share more music. Would this be an interesting concept to try in Morecambe. It is almost like a Paris ‘salon’!

We leave and go for a final light meal on the Orla where Dan, Manoela and I talk a little longer over a cachaca or two ! Back at home I load up another set of images, pack and make ready for an early leaving.

My overwhelming sense is of a deeply successful and powerful trip.

nearly there

A morning to ponder and learn

It’s Sunday and there are various possibilities. The focus will be an event in the evening that will bring the community to see images, stories and music. To get there will as usual be a strange and curious process. As the day goes on I keep thinking and asking questions and preparing for a day on Monday when we will evaluate, reflect and look forward. What does this community think about itself? Will people sell their houses for the high prices and leave to live away from the river in a place where they have no connection? Who will be the first to break and will the state or the local government intervene to ensure that the wealthy get what they want? And how can a sustainable community project like this really create a future that will fight the power of money? This billboard values the stretch of riverbank where the community lives very highly.

It will be so interesting to see and also to map out where else this is happening in the world and how people in other places are dealing with the issues…

Evany arrives and we spend an hour exchanging pandeiro and samba skills for trumpet and penny whistle skills! I will need to continue this learnig in the UK and also develop my Portugese. I can now communicate well and just about chat to people. Then in comes in Elvis – one of Zequinhas sons who has had a very troubled life that ended 3 weeks ago with being totally set upon in the community and beaten up, early losing the sight of one eye. We have a great 40 minute improvisation round tunes and songs and a gentle plan is made to bring him into the evening show. Before lunch I sit with dan and we prepare slides for the evening. The 3 weeks is very well documented and includes this slide of me jumping to conduct.

Lunch at home today is beautiful bowl of Acai and shrimps prepared by wonderful cook Manoela.

You can feel the steam rising!

Parade, workshop, parade

The plan is to invite the mothers to come and play.. yet somehow we know it will be the kids who end up with us. 4 of us (Camilla, Matheus, Evany and me) go round the streets with a little band and knock on many doors to invite people to come and play and listen to the music later. Camilla is wonderful, singing and smiling and inviting people with such good humour. I play melodica and we duet with a simple Carimbo tune. It is a very strange little parade and gentle in a way… Back at the square we set up a circle of chairs, metal bowls, buckets and water bottles ready to play. Of course it is the kids who come out to play and in no time at all we have a group of 35 playing a load of scrap! Tricky to control at first but essentially rhythmic as soon as beat is found. We try out 3 beats and they all find their place. Can you imagine that in the UK… no no no. We then head of round the block on a second parade… very pied piper like except they are all leading and playing and dancing.. It is a truly great gaggle of humanity!

Community presentation

On the street outside the house we set up an amp, 2 radio mikes and a data show. It gets dark and slowly people gather until there must be 65 people of all ages gathered round. Unfortunately Zequinha has decided not to play and support the band so the young people are trying to work out how to proceed with their songs. There is a welcome, some images from Carolines trip to Port Allegre and then I do my world tour tunes, followed and integrated with a slide show that starts with a Morecambe sunset and ends with the Maraba equivalent. The Tanzanian songs work a treat and as I set up to play a tune with Elvis the TV arrive and it becomes quite chaotic as we prepare performances and interviews for them which in some way take away the focus for the end of the show. No matter. That is 2 TV appearances and 2 big press articles for the file!


Food and the ‘round’

After the show we gather as a group with 3 of the mothers and eat the food prepared in the day. The eating together and preparation of food is a theme that seems to be part of the project here and feels very good. People serve each other and extra food is taken out in bowls to families in their houses in the community. In this way many people eat tonight. After food there is a round of thanks and validations from the group – everyone speaks and shares their feelings. It is honest, poetic, heart warming and powerful. I reply and gift the project the melodica, whistles, books and shaky eggs! Also hand out the postcards of Morecambe to the mothers and Stages CD’s to the young people… Some people stay to clean up and then we head up the Orla for drinks and ongoing chat. We are ready to talk more seriously about the project and the depth of the conversation is very good even though we are so tired from the day.


Catching Up

Great sleep and a morning to sit on the bed and write emails and start to think about the next phase of my working life. Writing to the Board at More Music, to the partners and collaborators for the SOUND GAMES project and a flock of mails to people in Hong Kong and China for the April R&D trip. Quite calm in expectation of the arrival back to the UK and the 10 days of activity travelling up and down to London for birthdays and conferences!


I have always wanted to get my hands round this particular instrument. Great friend Mat from Edinburgh has always inspired me so when I arrived here it was a first question and today Evany is to give me a session. Here hands have such and light flexibility compared to clunky wrists. Slowly it gets going. This is the start of a good adventure!


The football will be at 7 pm and we go early to get our tickets and check it out. The ticket office is amazing – talk about a hole in the wall.

The match is a some sort of regional championship between the local team and one from Belem. Following my season of R&D at the Globe in Morecambe I am very curious how the music will play a part in the match here and excited. It is so hot that we go for a beer at the bar opposite the stadium.

Love the umbrella over the TV.

Chilling on the Orla

We are very relaxed today after an intense week of activity. Plannng meetings with the young people seem to have developed into a plan for a community event on Sunday night as a farewell so leaflets have been printed and taken house by house round the community. I wonder whether this will go to plan? A little later we wander down the Orla and sit under a tree and watch the river traffic go by.


Everything from the bigger boats to the jet skis, the macho speed boats to the little putputs. Chugging upstream or just floating back down on the intense fast flow. 2 boys from Cabelo Seco are out in the middle of the flow being carried back… at a pace.

That must be so exciting… eve if there are jacarai (crocodiles). We wander a little further down and sit on the top deck of a decrepid floating restaurant where the waitress is very spaced out and takes ages to get our drinks while we watch the sun set and the bats come flying out. This is good!

Aguia de Maraba

Yes… finally I am in the place ready for the match.

Frisked completely as we arrive and the number of police and guardia civil is intense. There are tall grills behind each end and we sit in the covered stand on recommendation from friends. It is half full probably with 1500 people in a stadium very similar to the Globe in size.

The band arrives in parade outside and take their place at the home end – about 20 players I would guess with surdos and snares and intense shakers. Women come round with food (minced turtle and mayo in little pastries), young kids with coke and water and men with chocolate and gum. As the match start the band start a simple beat and it doesn’t stop at all exept for moments when there is a free kick for the other side or a moment break. There is no singing at all. We go one up in 5 minutes and they then score. Before alf time we go ahead again! Hooray. At halftime the fully armed police with riot shields and rifles go out onto the pitch and accompany the officials of the pitch! What great theatre !

The quality of the play is similar to Morecambe – fairly uninventive with few outstanding moments! But we win and there is general cheer! We head off to meet Manoela and eat a pizza and watch life go by along the Orla at night. It is good!

Cabelo Seco at night

We arrive back at midnight to a very quiet Cabelo Seco. We chat to Elvis on the street and agree to try and have a play tomorrow. The music is booming from a house on the square. Mosquito net out and sleep comes quick!

18 hour day ends with Pagode

Teacher Day

Early early start to get Kathryn to airport. She gets first plane to Brasilia and then will be waiting and hoping for the connection to Lisbon later in the day. In the meantime I prepare or a 6 hour day with 24 teachers. I have agreed a pedagogy for the day with Dan with three key areas of delivery and a continual reflection that keeps action out of the day as the focus. Great bunch of people in the room with an energy and interest. We are quickly into singing and playing and at first they are no different to any bunch of people in a room. Hesitant with their voices, scared of rhythm and slightly hysterical when on the spot. We have a great time and the rhythm work brings a deep emotion from some people who play rhythm for the FIRST time. The vocal warm ups elicit the following thoughts

In 25 years of teaching we have never talked about the voice

No opportunity to do this, no space

The voice is fundamental

The emotions are strong, this is intimate

So much content based pedagogy. This drives it all and all this activity is left to one side. My first music workshop

Last week I went to my doctor and he was doing similar things.

We think all the time about taking care of the pupils and never ourselves

In the afternoon we write curriculum based songs using a few formulas for structures


and then the TV arrive and we do interviews

and then each group performs their song and we discuss the process and the future of each song.


The last 75 minutes is talking reflection as everyone talks about their experience…. Here are some of the comments

Transmitting values. Very new. Social values. Emotional. Believe that people can make a difference. Felt like a pupil. Music and art motivates and very different from usual training days Now vital to take it out to the classroom I have done this before and do it with my classes. In Bahia there is a great deal of this work. We really worked – content and invention and play. Everyone happy. Rare experience. Language of music makes the differences smaller. We need the collective. More powerful than working alone. Must take responsibility for taking this forward.

This week has changed the school and we will move it forward.

My audience figures for the week

Monday 240 pupils / 12 teachers

Tuesday 480 pupils

Wednesday 24 musicleaders / 140 audience

Thursday 60 young leaders / 45 young band players

Friday 24 teachers

Will I return ?

I finished the day with a swim with the kids in the fast flowing river as the sun set….

Later after a light meal of Acai we sit at Bertos bar and listen as a group of friends play endless beautiful Pagode


music alive

Inspirational circle of Faces

2 days ago we performed at the ceremony at the municipal Judith school where the young leaders were sworn in and made aware of their responsibilities. Today we had 2 separate 90 minute sessions with 30 of these young people at a time. I took this as opportunity to think about leadership through making music. We were hosted by the inspirational pastor from French Guiana whose job it is to keep a spiritual and ethical dimension to the school as a whole. In the IT suite a circle of chairs and 30 open and inquisitive face are ready to play. The first group is older (12-16) and we start with some simple clapping with names before moving to stickwork. Continually stopping to ask the questions – what am I doing, what makes a good leader, what are the important skills ? Moving on to voice and singing we encounter similar issues and share ideas as we sing and vocalise. The energy is very focussed and high. In pairs they discuss their thoughts on their role within the school and we create a list… a great list that becomes a very simple chant.

In four groups that becomes a lovely piece with the end word being ‘convivienca’… live / work together.. A good and vital concept for us all. The pastor returns for a performance which we develop and record (see the music player) and then asks for thank you in a Brazilian indigenous fashion. Each person comes up to me and with a double touch of the head says

Kathryn Leaves

We travel well together. So love having the time together moving from place to place, finding our way, eating together and sharing thoughts and experiences. She is loved by all the people she meets and the young people have found her modesty and gentleness a special gift. Before she left she made a speech to a few of them in beautiful Portugese sharing her thoughts and feelings and now she is now heading to the airport to make the transition over the many miles to our home in the north of a very different country. Our reflections last night of our time here were very similar and I am sure the travel will give her moments to think and reflect more. I miss her already. (written at lunchtime)

Baybeat In Cabelo Seco

And the work goes on with a workshop for young people at the Cine Marrocs. Who will be there ? No idea ? At 2pm 3 people. At 2.20 – 44 young people. Ouch.


We sing and play and then I get them organised with instruments and we play, improvise and then learn African Marketplace!!!! High energy. Great skill. Good ears. Solid rhythm. And finally I say let’s go outside and Adrianno from the centre says OK and before we know it we are out and around Cabelo Seco on a 30 minute BAKING HOT parade.


Hooray… back on the streets again.

Kathryn returns

oops – they cancelled the flight….

Reflection conversations

8 Hour Education Workshop

At the local cente for arts Cine Marrocs I am to deliver a full day workshop. We don’t know how many people and at 8am there are only 8 people. We wait patiently having set up shop on the stage with a circle of chairs and enough kit for 30 people.

Hoping for that number and by 9.15 we have 28 people in the circle (from a variety of Casa de Cultura / Music Foundations and music schools) and we start.

Three aims for the day

To share practice between cultures

To demonstrate More Music pedagogy

To create some new music and song

I have had long discussions with Dan about the processes and the rhythm of the day and we will be running it very collectively with him translating all day as we go along. I have a plan which very soon shifts… there’s a surprise! We do rhythmic play, we sing, we talk, we reflect about education and try to address some questions What is relevant from More Music pedagogy to bring/share within the local context? How do the arts work within education in Brazil ? What are the principles of the pedagogy here What are the tools that people have?

We work hard and after lunch develop a great piece using a variety of techniques that create tunes, rhythms and structures. We let them take ideas into their cultural context and samba and carimbo beats develop the tunes and songs… good musicmaking. At 4 we stop and talk and reflect for nearly 90 minutes. This is the first time that these arts educators have met and sat together. Dan hosts this and lets it run a steady course. This is not my world and I would much prefer to be active and doing… yet I know that this is important and relax and let it roll on. People are engaged and want to find out about ways of working from each other a well as from me. Very interesting and many of the questions are touched on if not totally answered.

Paulo Frere and reflection

Later we talk with Mano about Frere education pedagogy and it’s focus on reflection (25%). Need to really think this one through.

Evening Show at Cine Marrocos

And the day goes on with a collaborative improvised show for 140 people at the venue in the evening.

Amazingly it come together at the last minute with audience and performers all ready for 8pm. Band from the centre (bass/guitar/sop sax/trombone), Zequinha, the Latinhas de Quintal, me and some guests. A hilarious evening ensues!

At the end of the evening Kathryn takes a last group shot.

Birthday and Funeral

The Birthday Breakfast

Is different here… by 7.30 we have 7 of the band wandering in and out of the space waiting to great K! The night was OK though the mosquitos are fierce in their determination to bite the strangers. New blood. Lets hope none of them are carrying dengue fever. 11 of us sit around the table for coffee, cheese buns and cake. The candle is lit and the singing begins. It is very joyful even given the circumstances of the night before. The sky is clear today and the sun is very hot.

Young Leaders Presentation at the Judith School

Today the band were supposed to deliver 2 shows at the other of the 2 local municipal schools as part of the start of year celebrations. Because of the murder in the community and also the closeness of Diago to many of the young band it was inappropriate / impossible for them to play. However Dan and they felt very strongly that the death should not stop life. So me and him went to each of the assemblies and created a 25 minute show that introduced me and my music to the school (Bring me Sunshine – trumpet and voice / Irish penny whistle tunes / African songs / Chinese tune and song / Brazilian meldo on the melodica) .

Morning session was the younger age and it worked very well and we managed to keep them engaged. Dan also talked about the assassination and explained why the young people were not coming to play. Following our presentation they brought the young leaders (2 from each class) onto stage to honour them and their role within the school with certificates, oaths etc.

All very well done and with good spirit. Lunch was at home and the second show for the older group was good if a little shorter because of the heat. (Audience figures this day = 450)


Meanwhile Mano went to the funeral with 2 coaches of people from Cabelo Seco. The body was buried so fast because often in these circumstances if there is a wake the murderers return and can disrupt and cause bad things to happen in the home. Apparently there were 200 candles and red roses plaed on the grave. A powerful image.

Dinner on the Orla

We meet midevening and head for a birthday meal down the river. A great casserole of fish in coconut milk with rice. A lovely night and a good celebration of Kathryn. Hooray. And what a day…