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Pantanal Music Exchange

To help support Pantanal Music Exchange, visit our Indiegogo page!

About the Project

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 st

ringed 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.

Recent Announcements

Summer 2013 Goals
After some introductory music instruction in Summer 2012, we plan to greatly expand the project for 2013. This will include:
-2 months of dedicated music instruction at Nazaré by dedicated volunteer musicians.
-Free performances in the community given by instructors
-Instructor exchange with other youth orchestras

Summer 2012

-Concerts featuring students with instructors
-Work with local musicians and organizations to enable continuation of music education and orchestra after we leave.
-Health and education work with the Nazaré students
-Work towards expanding the project to include other area schools

Long Term Goals
-Create a year-round, sustainable youth orchestra in Poconé
-Incorporate with larger Brazilian and South American youth orchestra organizations, exchange both student players and instructors
-Develop permanent relationships with US orchestras and music organizations to provide a constant source of support and talented musicians
-Play music guided by the interests of the kids, not a traditional classical program
-Perform locally and at other locations in Brazil

The Victors at Nazare

Summer 2012 we taughtmusic for about one week total. In that time we taught basic technique, and taught the kids to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "The Victors". The excitement of the students to learn music surpassed anything we could have possibly hoped for-they had us teaching for upwards of 3 hours a day and kept requesting more.
At the end of lessons the students often started requesting that we play songs they knew (anything from the Mendlessohn Wedding March to Lady Gaga) and we obliged as best we could! We worked individually with some of the older kids to have them help teach some of the younger ones, with decent success.

I'm happy to announce that we've worked out an official partnership with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra (PASO) in Washington, DC.  The first orchestra in the nation to focus solely on Latin American music, PASO combines artistic excellence with educational initiatives for the greater arts community. Their website is here:

In addition to this,

we have received advice and assistance from a number of other sources that we would like to acknowledge. We are working on developing closer partnerships with all of them:

  • Ciranda Institute (Cuiabá, Brazil) - local volunteers, experience organizing and administrating

  • Departamento de Música da Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso (Cuiabá, Brazil) - volunteers and curricular advice

  • Rotary Club (Poconé, Brazil) - donation of instruments

  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI USA):

    • Michigan Pops Orchestra

    • University Music Society

    • Pantanal Partnership

  • Ann Arbor Public Schools (Ann Arbor, MI USA) - curricular advice, fundraisers, musical pen pals

Getting Involved! 
To support PME, visit our Indiegogo page:!! 

We are also always looking for donations of instruments, stands, rosin, bows, bridges, strings, pencils, papers, folders, tape, and other supplies.

In addition, we are always looking for fresh perspectives on our projects. If you have advice, ideas, or connections that could help, give us a shout!

Please get the word out to everyone you can!

You can contact Alex Carney at with questions, concerns, ideas, and donations.