Teaching has been integral to my formation as a scholar, and something I consider to be the most important, engaging, and rewarding aspect of an academic life. My aim is to teach initiative, imagination and persistence in research, critical examination of resources and ideas, and clear, creative writing skills. Since my teaching approach is oriented towards challenging students, it seems especially important that I am able to offer guidance, assistance, and encouragement throughout the development of a course.
RESEARCH & COURSES
Music and Religion
The focus of my ethnomusicological research is on the relationship between music and religion in the folk Catholicism observations of folia de reis or the Three Kings celebration and Brazilian folk and popular music. The folia de reis is a popular Brazilian tradition of folk Catholicism that involves a group of participants who go on a journey asking for alms for social-religious purposes between Christmas and Epiphany, The tradition refers to the musical ensembles comprised predominantly of low-income rural workers from various regions of Brazil. Instrumentalists, singers, and other participants travel from house to house and farm to farm, singing the praises of the birth of Christ. The folia de reis celebrates and reenacts the Biblical journey of the Three Kings to Bethlehem and back to their homeland guided by the Star of Bethlehem. The folia de reis tradition that I am researching traces its origins back to colonial Brazil and to the Iberian Peninsula. As they travel from Christmas Eve through Epiphany (January 6), their singing journey blesses the families, they visit, as they bring their music in exchange for food or money. The folia de reis tradition is classified as “popular Catholicism” (Catholic ritual practice external to the interests of the Catholic Church) and it is quite widely diffused in the southern, central, and northern regions of Brazil, primarily in the rural communities. From the early Portuguese sources through its manifestations in the 21st century, the folia de reis has one theme: the Three Kings are important personages among the rural populations of Brazil, for whom the sense of being Catholic is frequently connected to faith learned through cultural practices outside ecclesiastical teachings. While folia de reis devotees are Catholic they also maintain many beliefs unconnected to official Church worship. Such characteristics are part of a long historical process of colonization. Many of the early settlers in São Paulo’s interior region were illiterate. Superstitious behavior dictated the way faith and other social matters were interpreted and understood. The Church often assumes a tolerant position toward the folia de reis tradition (although the level of tolerance depends on the local priest). My research focal point is the relationship between music and religion as expressed in folia de reis songs and participants’ personal faith. My analysis of the relationship between song and faith is partially based on how folia de reis group members strengthen their spiritual world by praying and singing their songs along their journey to express devotion and to fulfill their obligations to the Three Kings. Through the study and understanding of music and song texts, including musical instruments and other aspects of folia de reis material culture, I argue that the folia de reis tradition, empowered by all its characteristics (music, text, costumes, etc.) has the power to strengthen faith and forge community bonds in both its traditional religious context and its newer staged context through the Olímpia Folklore Festival. I also assess the religious impact of the folia de reis tradition in the city of Olímpia, located in the interior of São Paulo state in Brazil.
Brazilian Music Institute (BMI)
I am the founder and organizer of the Brazilian Music Institute (BMI) created in 2001. The BMI is a training ground for those interested in Brazilian music and culture. Combining classical and popular styles of music, each year the BMI brings outstanding artists to a weeklong event designed to extend the experience and expand the possibilities of learning and performing Brazilian music. Through daily rehearsals and group lessons in Brazilian music with guest artists; the BMI offers a challenging and exciting atmosphere in addition to an aesthetically and socially rewarding activity for all participants. The Brazilian Music Institute is a genuine Brazilian musical experience in the United States. The program functions as a cultural, academic, and artistic pilot, providing students, faculty, and the community with numerous opportunities and experiences for in-class training and performances with outstanding musicians and scholars. Sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, The College of the Arts, and the School of Music, the Institute has attracted hundreds of students, musicians, and professionals from the community and elsewhere for intensive studies in performance and pedagogies. Visiting guest artists and scholars include Gerard Béhague, Christopher Dunn, Larry Crook, Will Kesling, Marco Pereira, Mestre Boca, José Rasteli, Nonato Luis, Julio Cesar de Figueiredo, Aliéksey Vianna, Jorge Continentino, Paulo Martelli, Diego Figueiredo, Celso Machado, Duo Siqueira Lima, Marcio Bahia, Antônio Adolfo, Hercules Gomes, Jovino Santos Neto, Mike Orta, Beatriz Malnic, Brazilian Voices, Ulisses Rocha, Sinhô Francisco, Todd Wright, and Jim Gasior. The Institute also provide students and faculty artists as well as K-20 teachers the opportunity to learn about and experience Brazilian culture through its musical traditions. We offer seminar classes, workshops, rehearsals, and outreach activities exploring Brazil’s rich and diverse cultural/artistic traditions and their relationships to the Hispanic American and African American world. This program itself has expanded to students and faculty in South Florida, including Broward College, Florida International University (FIU) and the New World School for the Arts (NWSA) in Miami.
Performance as Research Agenda
In addition to the performance aspects of the Brazilian Music Institute, I am also engaged in providing opportunities and to expand new possibilities for performance and programs with the various ensembles through the usage of technology, education, and global learning, my research agenda has expanded to include a fresh look on how to propose new musical repertoires and how to effectively and artistically produce concert events. Producing concerts and writing new arrangements combining vocal and instrumental arrangements is part of my work with the world music ensembles “Agbedidi Africa” and “Jacaré Brazil” . Because we perform many different styles of music, our repertoires draw information from different ensemble organizations, from African and Brazilian drumming to symphonic or jazz combo repertoires. We also use music for dance and to tell stories about regions and cultures promoting artistic values among all participants. These performances require creativity, investigation, and ultimately musical arrangements to supply the needs of these repertoires. I have included a few links to our world music ensembles that I organized for the World Music Fest.
Traditional Music in the Age of Global Technology
This research expands on the usage of technology to enhance education and to engage students in different parts of the world to discuss their “traditional music.” Through the collaboration of PGL (partnership global learning) and computer technology at the University of Tampa (Florida) my virtual project proposes the discussion of traditional music and culture from a “digital” perspective. In this project, teachers are coaches and Internet technology serves as a vehicle for the students to teach their own music and culture to others from their own “virtual classroom” (computers). The project uses a designed educational module that I created to facilitate finding, exchanging, and sharing researched information over the Web. It provides opportunities for students and teachers separated by geographical distances to present their music and culture in a common site or “educational platform.” The first application for this project design was carried out for an entire semester in 2005, including Tampa (United States), Monterrey (Mexico), and Niterói (Brazil), before a culminating conference presentation where each participating group presented a final version of their research.
Digital Technology and the Arts in Education
I took on the task of conceptualizing and applying digital technology to new performance possibilities in 2001/2002 with "Dancing Beyond Boundaries," which was an intercontinental collaborative performance featuring dancers in Denver, Minneapolis, and Florida accompanied by musicians in Brazil and Florida. I was requested to compose the pieces and develop a concept of how to perform live music with musicians in other parts of the world using the Internet as my stage setting. This project was an important event for my development as a performer opening new windows for the application of music, the arts, and performance. This event won the prize for the "Most Courageous and Creative" effort at the Super Computer Conference in Denver, Colorado (2001). Video, audio footage and photos are available for download. I have used the Internet and technology to compose songs to connect distant people to perform and learn from each other in a new “virtual” environment for music and the arts. I have participated in several performance projects using technology, including a concert for the University of Florida’s president and executive committee, setting up a guitar master class between the University of Florida and the New School for the Arts in Miami, and performing for the University of Florida’s international conference on "New Communications Technologies and the Impacts on Indigenous Societies and Cultures in the Americas.” Most recently I have used the technology for live performances with musicians in Brazil for the inauguration of the University of Florida’s Academic Technology Center. Most recently in 2014, I composed and performed for the released film "Theater of Rice and Beans", a new documentary film produced and directed by University of Florida theatre professors Tony Mata and Ralf Remshardt. The film features commentary by playwrights María Irene Fornés and Nilo Cruz.
Pedagogy and World Music
My most recent research is a self-reflective analysis of how music making and the process of teaching world music in the academic world affect the relationship between traditional and non-traditional music. I am interested in investigating and discussing how these two distinct approaches can coexist within the framework of teaching world music ensemble. The study discusses Brazilian music and its academic application through the world music ensemble “Jacaré Brazil” at the University of Florida. It also looks at teaching and performing Brazilian music and proposes a collaborative educational method bridging classical and popular repertoires, where students and audience can benefit from a complete learning experience. Furthermore, the research discusses Brazilian music as social and cultural phenomena and integrating discipline in the university music curricula, and discusses the concept of "world music" as a training ground for musicians and scholars. In the formation and development of the world music ensemble “Jacaré Brazil,” Brazilian music also mediates collegiality among students, faculty, and local musicians through a series of interrelated topics. The following interacting elements are presented with the research: 1 – The University support system through its Centers (World Arts and Latin American Studies) to the current program; 2 – An updated concept of "world music ensemble" and its purpose within the University of Florida’s mission; 3 – One Brazilian and one North American director working collaboratively for a common cause and preservation of a successful program in Brazilian music; 4 – Performances and other public events and its organization; 5 – “Jacaré Brazil” ensemble as a required course; 6 – The relationship between the group’s participants and its audience; 7 – The collaboration with renown visiting artists.
- MUH 7938 and LAS 6905
- LAS 4935 and LAS 6938
- MUH 3541
- MUH 2501
- MUN 2491
- MVS 2426, 3436, 3436, 6426
- MVO 6250 & 7460
- MUS 6940
- MUS 4910
- MU 7938 (Musicology Seminar: Applied Fieldwork Towards New (Ethno) musicologies). I created this course dedicated to fieldwork and methodologies, and devoted it to an exploration of contemporary directions in ethnomusicology fieldwork and the development of new trends in the area. In it, we examine methodological approaches, theoretical orientations, interdisciplinary dimensions, and compelling issues and concerns in developing an ethnomusicological research design that addresses the aspects and dynamics of gathering data and applying it to the construction of an analytical and theoretical body of information that adds to the understanding of a specific subject matter or ‘topic’ within the student’s research interests and problems.
- MUH 7938 and LAS 6905 (Music and Latin American Studies Graduate Seminars). This is a cross-listed course between Latin American Studies and the School of Music that I specifically created to provide a cultural view of Latin America peoples through the sounds of the guitar. The course focuses on the history of the modern classical guitar and its role mediating Iberian and Latin American musical cultures. The course presents and explores musical, cultural, and historical facts linking the guitar and its repertoires to the development of regional identities creating diverse music scenarios of traditional and non-traditional music.
- LAS 4935 and LAS 6938 (Music and the Construction of Brazilian Identity “A Música na Construção da Identidade Brasileira”). This course offered in Portuguese was developed to support the Spanish and Portuguese Studies programs within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Florida. The course looks at society from a cultural perspective and the way music is viewed based on personal and communal experiences. It also investigates the social and the political importance of music and its association with historical developments, people’s aspirations, and how they ultimately view the ethnic, racial, and social factors that shape Brazilian culture and society.
- MUH 3541 (Latin American Music) an undergraduate course covering selected musical cultures from Latin America and the Caribbean in the 20th and 21st centuries within their cultural and geographical contexts. The course investigates musical genres and associates them with specific political and social contexts.
- MUH 2501 (World Music Cultures) Introduction to world music focuses on selected musical traditions from around the world. The course is designed to help students (1) understand the importance of music as a human (and humanizing) activity, (2) appreciate the diversity of musical expressions and cultural values in the world, (3) learn the distinctive qualities of different types of music, and (4) enjoy all music more fully.
- MUN 2491 and 6496 Graduate and undergraduate ensemble “Jacaré Brazil” The ensemble is dedicated to learning about Brazilian culture through the performance of Brazilian music.
- MVS 2426, 3436, 3436, 6426 (Guitar Studio) My guitar studio at the University of Florida is designed to (1) facilitate the development of each student to the highest level of musical artistry; (2) learn the different styles of guitar, including classical guitar and other styles associated with the Brazilian guitar style; (3) learn secondary string instruments such as cavaquinho (four string small guitar) and the viola caipira (ten string double coursed guitar) to support the Brazilian ensemble “Jacaré Brazil”, and perform with the ensemble.
- MVO 6250 & 7460 (Guitar Recital Preparation). This course is intended to prepare graduate students for their final performance requirement for a Ph.D. degree.
- MUS 6940 (Graduate Special Projects) is a graduate course designed to provide students with alternative research topics to complement specific needs or make up deficiencies before presentation of a thesis or dissertation;
- MUS 4910 (Independent Studies) Courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level. These courses are in Latin America music and culture with topics related to specific research needs.
At Brazilian Music Institute, University of Florida
“The BMI is an educational and outreach project that bridges our UF mission and commitment to learning grounded in solid music fundamentals with a robust group of artists and faculty exploring the repertoires of Brazil and the USA linked to jazz to build professional musical training. Combining classical and popular styles of music, each year the BMI brings outstanding artists for a weeklong event designed to extend the experience and expand the possibilities of learning and performing Brazilian and jazz music. Through daily rehearsals and group lessons the BMI offers a challenging and exciting atmosphere in addition to an aesthetically and socially rewarding activity for all participants. The Brazilian Music Institute is a genuine Brazilian musical experience in the United States.”