Melodicas – Favela Brass’s Secret Weapon!

A big thank you to our UK donors, including long standing monthly donors, and all those who have been supporting New York Brass Band and Doncaster Youth Jazz Association‘s recent fundraising efforts for Favela Brass.

One of the things that the money is being used for is to buy melodicas in UK, where they are half the price that they are in Brazil. The ones we buy cost 20 pounds each, and each one means that an 8-10 year old child at one of our feeder schools can start learning to play an instrument and play in a group.

Over time we are gradually working out what works for getting kids excited about learning to play an instrument music and helping them to build their musical understanding on an intuitive and also theoretical level. The melodica is a fantastic instrument in both respects, for the following reasons:

1. Students can get a great sound on it straight away, and before long they are playing tunes with their friends and doing performances.
2. The keyboard layout is central to understanding the tonal and harmony side of music – even when they move on to brass instruments, they will have a better understanding.
3. Melodicas are relatively cheap so we can buy enough for whole classes of school students to experience the joy of learning an instrument.
4. Because they are cheap, light and robust, they are are suitable for lending to new students. Once students can practice at home, they will progress much faster than they do if they can only play in lessons.
5. Learning the melodica involves working on breathing and articulating notes with the tongue – skills which prepare students for playing brass instruments later on.
6. Melodicas are great for learning to improvise and explaining concepts like chords and scales – we use melodicas all the time even with our more advanced students.

For all these reasons and more, each melodica that we buy makes a huge difference in the musical and personal development of one of our students, and we are very grateful to be able to offer this opportunity to so many children now. Thank you!

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Bindu Mathur

Bindu Mathur was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and worked for 10 years in London as a TV producer/director, making science and history documentaries for the BBC, Discovery and Channel 4. She also made videos for international NGOs and has filmed in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and South America. Resident in Rio de Janeiro since 2007 she is the owner of the award-winning Casa Beleza B&B in Santa Teresa, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is a long-time collaborator with Favela Brass including making films for the project. Her children also studied at the project.

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