Finding I have a few moments of quiet time this evening, I felt it would be good to let you all know how things are here in Brazil with the harp projects.
After 3 months of intense work getting the 2 projects organized and starting students, I realized that I really did need more time to establish a solid foundation before I could feel confident about returning to Canada. Thanks to the understanding and support of Canadian colleagues, I was able to extend my stay for another month. As it is now, I will be returning to Canada in one week on June 26th, exactly 10 months after my departure.
As you know, at the beginning of March, after introducing the harp to all of the students, many children took the opportunity to try it. What an exciting few days to share that first moment of discovery with so many curious young people!
After a couple of weeks of trial lessons, we had 10 eager and motivated new harp students between the ages of 5 and 13. 4 students are at ASMB (Ação Social Pela Música do Brasil) in Chapeau Mangueira community in Rio de Janeiro and 6 are at PIM (Programa Integração Pela Musica) in Vassouras, a city in the interior of the state of Rio de Janeiro. One of the 3 harps, Carlos, was donated to PIM and the other two, Judy and Henriketa were donated to ASMB. It has been humbling to witness the dedication of the children who have all come from such difficult circumstances. The potential of these children is immense and they have all blossomed in various ways. After less than two months of lessons, on May 6th, two students of ASMB gave their first live performance in a trio with me performing “The Girl from Ipanema.” It was a thrill for us all and one we will not forget. Thanks to the efforts of the director of the ASMB, Fiorella Solares, the media has broadcast, both in print and on television, reports about the harp donations and the opportunity this has given the students. Here’s a link to the TV report – http://noticias.band.uol.com.br/jornaldorio/video/2015/05/06/15464568/projeto-de-musica-em-comunidade-ganha-harpas.html
– filmed in the building in the community of Chapeu Mangueira where the students attend lessons 3 times each week.
With my departure imminent, we decided it would be wonderful to give the students an intensive weekend of lessons, masterclasses, ensemble and orchestra playing. From June 19 – 21st, besides lessons etc., the students will get to know each other and have some fun together – first steps to establish a broader community and support system. For some of them, it will be their first time away from home and to experience the countryside outside of Rio. They are very excited! For me, it speaks to the respect that the parents have for the project and myself and I am honoured to have gained their trust in such a way. When 7-year-old Samuel asked if I could take him back to Canada with me, it made me so much more aware of how dramatically the lives of these children has already changed. Before I agreed to start this project, I determined that if I were to open the doors to these children I could not possibly allow them to close again. Now I am even more committed!
The extra month has been spent doing some longer-term planning, working intensively with my two teaching assistants and getting another one started as well. Both ASMB and PIM plan to get internet in place so that I can continue teaching via skype once a month. As you can imagine, it will be exceptionally hard for me to leave next week but it will be eased by knowing that we are already planning for my return next March.
Wonderful people gave the generous donations to Harping for Harps in order to make a difference in the lives of children who have so little. In the name of the children and in my own name, thank-you most sincerely!
We’ve only just begun…