Pantanal Music Exchange - Alumni Helping Kids

Submitted by DCAlum on April 23rd, 2013 at 2:34 PM


This summer I'm going to the Pantanal region of Brazil with a small group of Michigan alums and current students to teach orchestral music at an orphanage. We're trying to raise money for various pieces of the project, including instruments, maintenance, accessories (stands, bows, etc), living costs for the teachers, and others. Our fundraising site has a lot more info on the project and is at the link here:


The Nazaré Orphanage in rural Brazil is home to sixty boys whose lives have been scarred by domestic violence, abuse, and neglect. Orphanage founder Father Joaquim Tébar secured a donation of numerous violins, violas, and cellos to teach the children music. Tragically, he died before he could turn his idea into reality. We began this project to carry on his vision to bring music to lives that have known little else but adversity and hardship.


While working to set up workshops with the kids at Nazaré on public health, CPR, English, and sustainable technologies last summer, the director revealed a room full of stringed instruments that were collecting dust. We immediately decided to start putting them to use, and did our best to give some basic string lessons. The excitement and energy this brought out of the kids was immediately apparent, and we couldn’t help but want to see it continue. This summer we plan to expand the program into a full string orchestra through daily rehearsals over a two month period.


The Pantanal Music Exchange (PME) aims to cultivate creativity in the lives of these boys. We want the project to grow out of the excitement of the kids, so much of the music we teach will be pop and traditional songs that the kids know and want to learn, a model we had great success with last summer. Local support and involvement is crucial, and we are working with musicians and community members in Poconé so that the program can continue and grow even while we're not there. We're currently organizing partnerships with other youth orchestra programs in both Brazil and America.


We have built a team of dedicated individuals to lead PME, including regional experts, local Brazilian musicians, energetic college students, and recent graduates. All of us have been playing, writing, and teaching music for over a decade. Those who didn’t grow up speaking Portuguese have worked hard to learn it over the past year. We are also a relatively young group, which should help the kids relate to us and see us as role models.


I think MGoBlog users will be interested in the project for a couple of reasons. It helps rep UM in an area that doesn't get a lot of attention and exposure, it's just generally good for the world (which MGoBloggers are usually in favor of), and this video (warning: small cute children playing the Victors sort of poorly):


Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love if you would be able to donate or even just pass on to your networks. I’m at [email protected]