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The Musical Socialization of Children and Adolescents in Brazil in Their Everyday Lives

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the musical socialization of children and adolescents in Brazil. Children and adolescents were observed and interviewed in environments such as the non-governmental organizations Projeto Villa Lobinhos and Meninos do Morumbi, and at Escola de Porto Alegre, a school that helps homeless children and adolescents. Music education was a positive factor that changed individuals and groups socially.

Keywords: Brazilian, children, adolescents, musical culture, socio-cultural, identity, neglect, music education

In Brazil, several studies have highlighted the importance of music in the construction of the sociocultural identity of children and adolescents who have suffered from a lack of care and social protection. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss musical socialization through family and communities and how it is developed in school and in social projects. The children and adolescents were observed and interviewed in their specific locus, such as in the nongovernmental organization (NGOs) Projeto Villa Lobinhos and Meninos do Morumbi (Kleber 2006a, 2006b) and at Escola de Porto Alegre (Müller 2000; Souza and Dias 2009), a school that assists homeless children and adolescents.

The belief is that in order to understand the musical cultures of children and adolescents, it is necessary to get to know their family experiences and their network of musical sociability. The research presented and discussed in this chapter deals with the experiences of children and teenagers living in the suburbs of major (p. 148) Brazilian cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, located in the southeast of the country, and Porto Alegre, to the south. These experiences are seen through the analytical perspective of theories that discuss everyday life. Our interest is in the values and beliefs about music education in the different cultural communities.

Music pedagogy is seen as both a process that shows the relationship between people and music and the process of music appropriation and transmission, as proposed by Kraemer (1995: 146): “Music education is concerned with relations between human beings and music under the aspects of ownership and transmission. All the music-educational practice is included in this field of study, together with what happens in and out of the institutions, as well as all the musical processes of appropriation.”

As in all countries, Brazil has a variety of cultural groups sometimes classed as subcultures. One can see not only the regional differences—people who grew up in São Paulo are not like those in Rio Grande do Sul—but also differences within the same city. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, there are people who live in the slums, in contrast to those who live in penthouses in Copacabana, not far from each other. These subcultures are different in many aspects, such as social class, income, occupation, access to education, and ethnicity.

Musical Practices in Brazilian NGOs

 The Musical Socialization of Children and Adolescents in Brazil in Their Everyday Lives

Figure 8.1: Linking concepts and theories in the model of “music-pedagogical process as total social fact” (Kleber : 297).

In a recent study, Kleber (2006a, 2006b) analyzed and interpreted the music-pedagogical process observed between 2002 and 2004 in two NGOs—Projeto Villa Lobinhos (PVL) in Rio de Janeiro and Meninos do Morumbi (AMM) in São Paulo—from a systemic view of the contexts perceived as significant to the understanding of this phenomenon. Both NGOs represent different contexts of teaching and learning music while simultaneously holding important commonalities such as youths at social risk. These contexts are understood as loci of knowledge production whose music-pedagogical process is seen as a “total social fact” (Mauss 2003). To describe the theoretical aspects of this research, Kleber notes four key perspectives:

First, music is seen as social practice that generates a cultural system that has a substantial foundation that incorporates itself in the socio-cultural structure of groups and individuals. This idea has been proposed by Shepherd and Wicke (1997), Small (2006) and Blacking (1995). Secondly, the music pedagogical process is seen as a “total social fact.” This idea derives from Marcel Mauss (2003) who emphasizes the system and complex character inherent within organizations like those of this study. Thirdly, the musical knowledge production in NGOs is seen as a cognitive praxis. This is understood against the ideas of Eyerman and Jamison (1998) who suggest that a social-political force can “open the doors” to the production of new ways of pedagogical, esthetic, political and institutional knowledge. Fourthly, the music pedagogy is seen as both a process that concerns the relationship between people and music and a process of music appropriation and transmission, as proposed by Kraemer and Souza. (Kleber 2006b: 103–104)

(p. 149)

According to Kleber (2006a, 2006b) the music-pedagogical process in these NGOs proved to be permeated by the notion of collectivity. The analysis and interpretation of several issues raised by this study points to the understanding of musical practices as sociocultural components of an eminently collective and interactive character.

A Music-Pedagogical Process as a Total Social Fact in NGOs

The music-pedagogical process, seen as a total social fact, covered the physical, institutional, and symbolic dynamics of how music was learned and taught in the observed institutions. The analysis then incorporated interconnections between four dimensions:

  1. 1. Institutional: related to bureaucratic, juridical, disciplinary, and morphological dimensions

  2. 2. Historical: dimension of the stories told by social actors, protagonists of the construction of the NGO as a physical, material, and symbolic space

  3. 3. Sociocultural: dimension of the circulation spaces of symbolic values, meetings, intersubjective and interinstitutional relations, conflicts, and negotiations

  4. 4. Music teaching and learning process: focusing on what, where, why, and how music was learned and taught in those spaces

Incorporating the interconnection of these four dimensions has enabled a vision of music pedagogy not only as concerned with teaching and learning but also as a connected multidimensional field. This is the conception of the “music-pedagogical process as a total social fact” (Kleber 2006a: 297) as shown in Figure 8.1.

This model is supported by the fact that the multiple contexts used in the analysis cannot exist in isolation, as a field of knowledge production that can only be thought of systematically. The term “total social fact” was coined by Marcel Mauss, (p. 150) who, in 1920, conducted a comparative study on trade and contracts between the various sections and subgroups in archaic societies of Polynesia, Melanesia, and the northwest of America. These social phenomena are considered total because “they express, at once, the most diverse institutions: religious, legal and moral—these being political and familial at the same time, economic—this assuming particular forms of production and consumption” (Mauss 2003: 186). According to Mauss (2003), the social phenomenon seen as “total” does not give room for ruptures or antagonisms between social and individual but rather seeks to reconstruct the whole.

According to Kleber (2006a: 295) the socioeducational proposal for institutions such as NGOs catalyzes the need for recognition that cultural diversity brings different forms of knowledge, experiences, values, and human interests. These aspects are related to the sociocultural dynamics and, therefore, are deeply connected with our own human existence. This is an important issue since it is connected to a refined process of cultural and social exclusion and shows two sides of the same coin, the institutionally taught and valued culture and other cultures (Web Figure 8.2 ).

Projeto Villa Lobinhos

The NGO PVL was created by Walter Moreira Salles, a banker, lawyer, and ambassador, and his son João Moreira Salles, a filmmaker, and institutionalized in 2000. PVL is coordinated by the violinist and teacher Turíbio Santos and aims to promote music education for young people between twelve and twenty years old who come from poor communities in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro. They attend musical perception classes, instrumental practice, ensemble, and computer classes for a period of three years and receive educational support for their regular school classes, with the idea that, after three years, students can follow a musical career. All of the participants—about forty young people in PVL—recorded CDs with varied repertories, preferably Brazilian music, to show their work in a range of settings.

PVL set up a network with several other social projects and institutions, presenting shows in theaters, schools, slums, and companies, achieving a synergy when merging these contexts. Most of the students interviewed live with their families in one of three slums of Rio de Janeiro: the Dona Marta and Rocinha communities and Grota do Surucucu. They were between sixteen and nineteen years old and most of them were boys, only one was a girl.

The Family Network

In the testimonies, the family is represented as a social core whose function is to protect and stimulate the development of the children. It is a social representation that is pluralized beyond the traditional model (father-mother-children). The area (p. 151) of security that surrounds the family also includes situations of conflict, absences, and violence. The family is seen, both by coordinators and students, as an important interlocutor, a partner who will involve children and young people in good projects. A majority of those interviewed indicated that the support and stimulation of their family was significant to their musical studies. Many of the students already have a relative who plays by ear or is otherwise familiar with music, either through participation in musical groups or in community samba schools.

Ademar, seventeen years old, said that he has the support of his father who is a musician and plays the trumpet. According to him, the incentive to be a musician comes from the family:

My family has always given me support for music. My dad has always come to me and [said], “No, [if] that’s what you want, go for it, I’ll give you support, go after it, really do it”…and nowadays he even jokes about it, “Brother, if I were you I would not let go of the music. Go for it with the saxophone, because if I put a trowel in your hand, you’re out of luck, I know nothing but music.” (Ademar in Kleber 2006a: 114)

The first class Ademar attended at PVL was deeply exciting to him because he had never seen so many musicians playing together and had never participated in an orchestra. At the first meeting, he saw eight people together and thought, “WOW!! It has a good crowd down here” (Ademar in Kleber 2006a: 99). This report shows how the social relations that fall into the everyday life promote meetings that may have a meaning to broaden social and aesthetic experiences, allowing the repositioning of a new standard in individual and social identity.

Carla, a flute student who graduated in 2004, lived in the Rocinha Slum and began to study music in her own community at the School of Music when she was nine years old. She is now eighteen years old and considers her family to be her emotional support and her motivation to continue studying music. Her parents are proud of her performances as a student at PVL:

My mother loved it; my mom and dad give me great support. They loved it and if I ever want to leave this place, they won’t let me…they want me to go to the university to do music and become a professional. My grandfather was an Italian singer….My dad plays a little guitar…and he is very proud and tells everybody every time there is a performance…the environment is very good…it’s a family atmosphere that everybody likes everybody, no quarrel with anyone, it is very good. I feel very comfortable. (Carla in Kleber 2006a: 115)

Families see the study of music as important and positive support, as an alternative to an idle life that is often imposed on the youngsters who live in the suburbs and slums. These social projects often appear as an alternative social representation of the family, materialized in the recognition of the physical and symbolic space of PVL as a second home. The role of PVL in dealing with dysfunctional families is shown by the life story of Marcos da Silva. Marquinhos, as he is called by friends, is a multiinstrumentalist who plays trumpet, ukulele, guitar, tambourine, and percussion. He lives at Favela Dona Marta and reveals that before starting his (p. 152) musical training he was not into music: “I did not like any kind of music…I didn’t know what music was, I did not like anything, I only listened to funk because the neighbors would play it very loud, so I would just hear it” (Marquinhos in Kleber 2006a: 102).

He says that his horizons got broader and he started noticing that music was more than just funk: there was “Brazilian popular music (MPB), rock, pop, different styles such as folk, samba, many things…music is a completely different world…different from the neighbors” (Marquinhos in Kleber 2006a: 102). His testimony shows how the network of socializing contributed to the construction of his familial and aesthetic-musical references and how the social actions replaced both his mother and the social care that were the guarantee of his survival. Memories of his family embody the disintegration and violence created by the vulnerable environment where he used to live. His life history presents his struggle for survival and reveals the affective, ethical, and cognitive dimensions that a child needs to grow with dignity. He lost his mother when he was three years old and was raised at a day care center in the slum. People who do not have a family often experience this as a vacuum in their lives, leading to the recognition that the actions of the social projects replaced maternal and social care to some extent.

Since I was a child…my mother and I…didn’t starve, but we lived on the streets. My mother would beg for food so I could have something to eat and she always got some and then I grew up in this atmosphere….My mother died when I was three so I stayed with my grandma [who] took me to different places. Then, in the day care center, where Rodrigo met me…I was like…not abandoned…how am I going to put it….I didn’t have something for me, it was vague, and everything was vague. I used to wander there in the sports court, there in the slum. Then, with the music, then I started having something to do and then I started seeing that it was totally different with music, totally different from what I lived before; the feeling that music gives you…I felt the music! I don’t know, it’s something…don’t know how to say this; I only know that it changed very much, very, very, very much. (Marquinhos in Kleber 2006a: 102)

There are many stories that reveal a multiplicity of experiences and contexts accomplished by PVL that acquire a meaning beyond music teaching and learning, since they value social representations such as family, friendship, leisure, and the profession. Marquinhos exemplifies the meaning of music in his life, in the construction of his music identity, focusing on issues related to his ethnic condition—being Black—and living in the slums and in love with music:

And then my music opened the possibility of all that I have now in my life…and without the music my life would be a mistake, this is my aim, I always talk to myself…face things with a clean mind. These are discriminations that most people have to face. And we will always have obstacles in life, and we will face them with a clean mind…when I go to bed, I always think and reflect on what I could have gone through without music….Chorinho1 is so wonderful, I can’t even explain it; Chorinho comes from inside, from the soul, it moves the body, the blood…a swing, it moves everything! (Marquinhos in Kleber 2006a: 133, 162)

(p. 153)

As music in Marquinhos’s life played an important role by keeping him away from criminal activity, so too the role of music can be seen as an alternative that can replace violence, criminality, and drug use. Moreover, it is a potential element for the construction of social identity and a way the young can follow in order to distance themselves from the marginalization, violence, and criminality.

A Second Home: The Family Extension

Students cite the lack of family relations as something that constitutes a gap in their existence. Therefore, the opportunities given by social projects are considered a social representation that minimizes this absence. PVL as a second home is a metaphor associated with a cozy, safe, and harmonious environment, in which feeling well is essential. For Marquinhos, PVL is that second home, where he can do his homework, play, chat, and so on: “This place is like your home, a second one here, because in our home one can do anything, like here, but with some rules, but you can do anything” (Marquinhos in Kleber 2006a: 101). The recognition that living in a communal space requires the observation and compliance with rules reflects the awareness of rights and duties, values related to the construction and exercising of citizenship through microrelations.


Instrumental music was always performed in a group using amplifiers and a microphone with students playing on drums, guitar, bass, and keyboard and Marquinhos on trumpet. The atmosphere was of excitement; they were very comfortable and happy. The arrangements were discussed, and changes of rhythm, harmony, instrumentation, and tonality agreed on, setting up the arrangements and at the same time providing for repetition and improvement. Kleber (2006a, 2006b) captured many moments of musical knowledge exchange between students and the process of communicating musical ideas through processes of orality and imitation. The performance emerged as the axis of the musical pedagogic process, and they enjoyed themselves learning and teaching music among themselves. In the NGOs, the

performance of musical groups is understood as the product of the music pedagogical process. Evidencing the music performed is a way of presenting the participants musical identities, choices and values….[through the musical practices] presented demonstrating integration of processes that are related to citizen’s values and articulate not only several types of knowledge but also generation, gender, race and social class groups. (Kleber 2006b: 108)

The stories reveal a multiplicity of experiences and contexts accomplished by PVL that acquire a meaning beyond music teaching and learning, since they (p. 154) value social representations such as family, friendship, leisure, and the profession. According to Kleber,

Aspects, such as the stigma of skin color, the place where people live, and poor origins appear in the reports on the students’ identities. The participants reveal that they lived in situations of misery and from this carried much stigma. What is interesting when we compare them after involvement with the NGOs is a clear change of perception to such issues. Such experiences can be considered a very meaningful factor to the reconstruction of new notions of personal and social values. (Kleber 2006b: 106)

These are references that contribute to the construction of the identity of these youngsters. The PVL students circulate in the different spaces and activities performing different musical styles in different venues: philanthropic activities (schools, nursing homes), merchandising (the places the sponsors request), parties, and concerts, among others. The interactive character of the circuits that the members of PVL have contact with and their leisure activities are important in building experience. One notices that in this interactive environment, the musical performance becomes the unifying axis. These examples reflect the role that work of this nature can play in the life of youngsters who are deprived of social care. It reveals that lives can change for the positive, a concrete transformation when the music is a determining factor.

Associação Meninos dos Morumbi

Created in 1996 by Flavio Pimenta, the musical work developed by Associação Meninos dos Morumbi (AMM) (Web Figure 8.3 ) includes the Banda Show (BSMM), which is composed of the Grupo de Percussão (Percussion Group), the Grupo Vocal Feminino (Female Vocal Group), and the Grupo de Dança (Dance Group). This is the result of the work done in singing, dancing, and percussion classes for children and adolescents that integrate the community with the Association. The band has five weekly rehearsals, with 300 participants at each rehearsal. A recording can be found at (go to Banda〉CD).

AMM is an NGO, constituted according to its own statute that has its headquarters in Morumbi, a middle class neighborhood in the city of São Paulo. There are about 3,500 participants, most of whom live in poor neighborhoods with the common characteristics of a low HDI (Human Development Index), a high violence index and a poor educational, healthcare and social infrastructure. The AMM mission statement is to “promote a multidimensional learning context for children and youngsters through the construction of positive values that are connected to art and culture, in this way broadening the circuits of inclusion in a participative and entrepreneurial form” ( 2010). One of the most (p. 155) important goals is to develop the capacity for teamwork. The project is socioeducational and seeks to find alternatives for access to material and symbolic assets, which are the basics for the exercise of citizenship.

The AMM as Part of the Family

The AMM families are assisted through different means: individual interviews, family meetings, thematic forum, assistance in crisis situations, and referrals to a group of volunteer professional psychologists who use different strategies, such as community therapy, sociodrama, group meetings, focal groups, and other methods to tackle problems. The goal is to create an exchange space that provides opportunities for these families to work out positive solutions when facing the challenges of raising their children, in this way increasing family resilience.

All of the interviewed participants were proud and thankful to belong to AMM: “Whenever I hear someone saying Meninos do Morumbi, I feel proud of being part of it, and this is the best part” (Cintia in Kleber 2006a: 230). Their testimonies reveal the positive influence that the physical and symbolic presence of the AMM represents in their lives. The feeling of belonging to AMM is also revealed when students refer to the social locations such as family, work, profession, second home, and friendship as important values in the construction of their identity. Although, most of them come from dysfunctional families, they refer to their families as a structure of safety and affection, as well as of conflicts. In their testimonies, they attribute great significance to AMM, which also appears in the testimonies of the participants interviewed about the psychosocial structure and support through the socialization with the group, as illustrated by Cintia: “Here we are practically a family, we are a team here. So…if I am going through some difficulty, I come to someone in my group to talk and they will try to help me….we are a team and always try to help each other here” (Cintia in Kleber 2006a: 231). When asked about the role of music in his life, Pavilhão reports, “Today it is almost everything, because in addition to playing, I work with the sound, I operate a table and this has changed my life completely, thanks to the project I managed to get a family” (Pavilhão in Kleber 2006a: 231).

Metaphors of home and family were used by interviewees to communicate about situations in the everyday life of AMM. Silvinha, a pretty girl aged twenty-one who worked in the administration of the Project, summarized:

I consider Meninos do Morumbi as my second home; my friends are here, my work is here, I grew mature here because…everything that I am today is thanks to this place, because today I work here in a position of trust. Friendship, union, pride and a dream accomplished both in the beginning and now, because it has grown, evolved and whoever has lived this is part of life. It’s part of life and I consider myself part of Meninos do Morumbi and my life is here and that’s it. (Silvinha in Kleber 2006a: 231)

(p. 156) Performance

As with the other NGOs, analysis reveals that performance is a conductor of the teaching and learning process:

It can be seen as the result of social practices motivated by NGOs and by the sociocultural context of its participants. Collective rituals, classes, rehearsals, games, jokes and informal meetings are moments of synthesis of relationships and experiences provided by music. Leisure, learning how to play, taking care of instruments, executing a musical production and meetings with friends are part of the context of pedagogical and musical process. Audio and video records of the performances from the two selected organizations (Web Figures 8.4, 8.5, and 8.6  The Musical Socialization of Children and Adolescents in Brazil in Their Everyday Lives) are understood here as a result of this process. They are fragments of the repertoire they play, built along the work done in different places already mentioned in this work: the classroom, tests, presentations, music games. Highlight the music they perform is a way to present them through the music making—“musicking” (Small 1995)—which carries traces of their musical identities, steeped in their choices and values that were shared and where they structure themselves as musicians, groups and individuals. (Kleber 2006a: 299)

In regard to the NGOs, Kleber emphasizes that they “are spaces historically built through sociomusical practices and the notion of belonging and the concern for issues of human dignity emerge as features that identify the children and young of both institutions….[Therefore,] the collective process can be seen as a paradigm in the socio-musical interactions of NGOs. Thus, the sense of belonging is pursued through the educational and joyful activities related to relevant musical practice for those young people involved” (2006b: 107).

Escola Porto Alegre

The Escola Municipal Porto Alegre (EPA) is a municipal public school in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, for homeless children and adolescents between ten and eighteen years old. It has a flexible organization, with classes containing mixed-aged students, with different levels of literacy, socialization, and cognitive development. Furthermore, students’ attendance is not compulsory.

EPA is considered an open school that, unlike the majority of the educational institutions, maintains a nonhierarchical and nonformal relationship with knowledge. The school values experience and practical knowledge as a starting point for its concept formation, including objective and subjective themes collected from the everyday demands of the students. Therefore, the curriculum includes themes such as sexuality, ethnicity, work, drugs, violence, AIDS, power, and citizenship, to name just a few. These themes connected various areas of knowledge (Müller 2000: 14–15). The new pedagogical dimension of the school provides flexibility and differentiation of the curriculum organization and tries to implement a different (p. 157) logic of inclusion, allowing access to formal learning even for those children and adolescents living on the streets.

In research with children and adolescents from EPA, Müller (2000) has revealed the senses attributed to music and considered the ways in which they relate to it. The specific questions were Where was music located in the school’s life? What was the relationship of the students with music? To what extent did the school’s political-pedagogical project, reflected in its time-space, determine the relation between its students and music?

Although, at that time, music was not part of the school curriculum, a group of twenty children and adolescents expressed great interest in music and had some kind of musical activity at school almost daily, either by listening to music on a sound system on the school patio or in the classroom or by playing percussion instruments in the pagode and samba gatherings, which occurred spontaneously or because of some scheduled presentation. Also, they would rehearse with the Sabedoria de Rua rap group composed of six boys and three girls, who presented group or individual choreographies in or outside of the school environment. Other forms of musical activity were singing in the dining hall when waiting in line for their food to be served; singing and tapping the walls, doors, or school pillars; or singing and dancing in the hall on the way to the classrooms.

Music as a Social Fact

When discussing the concept related to music, Anne-Marie Green states, “Music as a total fact is understood from the experiences of a social group, considering that this society is the result of the musical acts by singular actors in relationships that connect one to another” (2000: 34). This means that the musical fact is constructed from the experiences of subjects that belong to certain social groups, as well as individuals. Green thinks of music as a complex object since it is considered a total social fact that combines technical, social, cultural, and economical aspects. From this model “that seeks to have a vision of the relations that are woven, in other words, understanding music as a social reality with its multiple aspects,” Green believes that we can have a more acute, sensitive, and thorough comprehension of the musical facts. Green writes that the presence of music in our daily life is so important that we can consider it a social fact to be studied (1987: 88). This is an aspect to which music teachers still seem to give little attention. The works that have a more sociological bias, for example, refer to “the social construction of musical meaning.” According to Green,

There is no musical object regardless of its constitution by a subject. Therefore, there is not, on the one hand, the world of musical works (which are not universal entities and developed in particular conditions linked to a given cultural order) and on the other hand, individuals with acquired conditions or musical conditions (p. 158) that are influenced by societal norms. Music is, therefore, a cultural fact inscribed in a given society. (1987: 91)

This broader understanding of the social meaning of music is useful for the comprehension of the different musical practices of groups of students in the school or other areas. According to Green, it is more important to define the type of relation that the adolescents, for example, have with music than “limit oneself to the music practice or musical consumption just for its preferred content or genre” (1987: 95). This is explained by the fact that the musical preferences of adolescents would be associated with a musical genre that expresses freedom and change. In other words, the relation that adolescents maintain with music represents the manifestation of a cultural identity characterized by both age and social environment (Green 1987: 100).

The testimonies collected from children and teenagers talking about their musical experiences in their families and communities reveal how these identities are constructed. This process confronts personal and collective expectations with symbolic, aesthetic, and political values. The musical socialization that is built through family and community is also developed at school or in social projects. The music is part of a socialization process through which children and adolescents create their social relations.

Functional and Dysfunctional Families and How Music Helps

For homeless children and adolescents, the family does not function as a mechanism of social protection. In other words, the role of the family is nonexistent as “a mediator between the individual and the society” that operates “as a space of production and transmission of agendas and cultural practices” or as an “organization responsible for the daily existence of its members, producing, gathering and distributing resources to satisfy their basic needs” (Carvalho and Almeida 2003: 109). Almost all students assisted by the EPA live in hideouts that are located under the bridges of the river that flows through the city of Porto Alegre. The students interviewed by Müller chose to refer to the place where they lived as “bridge.” Under the bridges, ten hideouts were located, each of them with two to six children or adolescents (2000: 82–83). The spatial proximity allowed them to follow each other’s daily lives, controlling their attendance “in the house,” the kind of activities that they were doing at certain moments, and their health conditions (Müller 2000: 81). The friends and neighbors from the bridge were their family:

The fact that most students lived under the same bridge as neighbors, created in these children and adolescents a group identity. This self-image of a group made (p. 159) them feel proud, since they consider themselves as different from the “homeless children,” and in this way avoiding that designation. (Müller 2000: 82)

In spite of the lack of basic material elements necessary for human life—home and food—the music was always present:

The music seemed to reveal the dimension of this big group because it provided a connection between the children and adolescents from the two sides of the same bridge and when they got together on the same side of one of the bridges in order to sing, dance, and play the cans and buckets that were used to wash cars on the streets. (Müller 2000: 83)

Informants also listened to the radio at night and while they were sleeping, preferring rap mostly. The music would gather them into a big group, “in the same hideout, in order to sing, play and dance to the music that they knew from the radio” (Müller 2000: 84). During these moments, they would also rehearse the songs from their friends who composed raps—something that could also happen collectively, through the rap de hora (last-minute rap), a combination of improvised phrases, as Rogerio described in an interview:

I make a verse, then if I don’t know how to sing the other verse, he already has the other verse in mind and then I can include his verse and mine; then he stops in another part that he doesn’t know and I invent, others invent, and so forth…that’s why the result will be a big, bigger song. Because if I sing, I will sing only one piece, if he sings, he will sing only one piece, or if others sing, they will sing one piece, so now we have a whole song. (Müller 2000: 84–85)

As highlighted by Müller (2000: 117), the students seemed to find cohesion in the practice of rap because, as a group, they recognized themselves as one more participant of the hip-hop movement. A sense of legitimacy in a life of exclusion could be experienced by them in this culture. Their discourse claimed social rights and denounced the difficulties of life in the suburbs, with the objective of mobilizing society.

The hideouts are located relatively close to the school, which helps improve the students’ school attendance. The common experience lived by the homeless children and adolescents helps them to “know” the songs created outside the school, as Rogerio explained:

There, where we live, most of us stay….in the group, you know, like us. We stay in the group. To sing, we form a group of more than five, six, like in a circle, then start singing…then each starts singing just a little piece, keeps listening and…so on, then when we come to school everybody knows. Then, if one sings there…then, “this song I know …” then, sings together, another person sings over there…then, that’s it. (Müller 2000: 84–85)

The musical performance of these children and adolescents, especially in the improvised rap gatherings, can reveal a lot. According to Small (1998), the people involved in a performance would be celebrating their established relationships, and the quality of the performance would be determined by the quality of the relationship generated at the moment of the performance.

(p. 160) Institutions as Identity Builders

The students at EPA consider making music together a form of celebration that helps them create links with the school and strengthens their personal relationships with certain teachers, which was observed in the field research conducted in 2009 when we returned to the school. At that time, the school had a music instructor with a degree in sociology, who stated that this had given her ideas to deal with the problems present in the school.

One of the primary reasons for making music was the effect of a percussion workshop that was held for a week. The participants were between fourteen and twenty-two years old, had no family, and were mostly involved with drugs, drug dealing, or other types of criminal offences (sometimes the school would experience episodes of violence caused by students’ drug withdrawal symptoms or even by their involvement with drug dealing).

The organization of a music workshop was a complementary activity to the classroom, a time for socializing that would be a pleasurable moment in school. This project allowed the students to interact with other musicians and people who were not homeless. It was also a time of celebration, when, at the end of a week of work, the students played a repertoire for percussion instruments with other invited groups, participated in rap gatherings, and organized capoeira performances, and the girls danced in the schoolyard.

The identification with rap is related to the “ethnic” question, since the vast majority of the children and adolescents who attend this school are of African origin. Therefore, this is not simply an area for youth sociability, as stated by Andrade (1999) but an opportunity for them to be with their peers in ethnic groups that cope with the same social and economic difficulties. Music as a possibility of inclusion has a direct effect on the identity of homeless children and adolescents. At EPA, music seems to serve not only to celebrate their ties but also to reveal them in a way that “brings out” social relations, making them visible at times (Müller 2000: 89). It is as if their musical performance is not a mere amusement but gives them a place in the world and among relationships with other people.


In this chapter, we have discussed music socialization through family and communities and how it can be developed in other areas, such as school and social projects. With a comprehensive approach, based on three case studies, we have focused on everyday musical practices. In this way, we wanted to study music education facts with tools that could analyze the specifics of music as a social fact. Both in NGO social projects and in the school environment, the students are at social risk, and many of them are involved with drug trafficking and other unhealthy practices. (p. 161)

The interviews with these social actors showed that the possibility of gathering systematic music education process, beyond the frontiers of the community, becomes itself part of the relational capital of individuals and social groups. It means that any transformation depends on existing networks between individuals of the community and those belonging to other social groups—the social capital of the community. It means that, like any other capital (human, financial), investment in social capital also has a return or benefit.

The implications for the epistemological field of music education of this view recognize that the production of musical-pedagogical knowledge should consider multiple contexts of the social reality, dissolving hierarchical categories of cultural values. Furthermore, it is necessary to reexamine the relationship between the knowledge of popular culture and the knowledge established by the universities, as music educators have already proposed.

The contextual perspective of an empirical field reflects the complexity that is present in music-pedagogical processes and is understood as a field that offers the possibility to learn, simultaneously, different aspects of social reality. The two specific spaces join groups, becoming a laboratory of collective experiences that have as their focal point music as social practice.

What is the role of music education processes and culture in these contexts? This question can be understood as ways that produce knowledge from other meanings, incorporating questions that seem to be inherent in the learning and teaching process of any area. But, they are deeply overlaid in guides and decisions. They require reflection, analysis, and commitment because they are the factors that can involve new physical and sociocultural spaces, connecting cognitive, social, ethical, aesthetic, and political aspects to a perspective of social transformation.

Music education in these three case studies was revealed as a positive factor that can change the individuals and groups socially, mainly if the sociocultural patterns in musical practices present in the students’ daily lives are considered. The notion of belonging and the concern for issues of human dignity emerge as a feature that identifies the young musicians from these institutions. When we tried to understand the choice made for music education by the children and adolescents from the suburbs of São Paulo, Rio, and Porto Alegre, we realized that many factors are being mixed with immediately explicit variables, such as, “willingness to study music.” We realized that the answer could only be found in a deep study that would reveal that the relations are established between youngsters at social risk and music education, that relationships are established between these students and the social projects environment or even away from it, and that there is a relationship between music classes and other school subjects.

These perspectives were aimed at contributing to the reflection and practice about the role of music education in the politically aware process of social movements and social projects in NGOs and schools. These institutions seek transformation and social justice, minimizing poverty, inequality, and social exclusion in favor of human dignity.

(p. 162) Acknowledgments

Magali Kleber thanks the participant coordinators of Projects Meninos do Morumbi and Villa Lobinhos for their having shared the value of music in their precious life stories, making possible this research.


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                            (1) Chorinho is a genre created from the mixture of elements of European ballroom dancing (like schottisch, waltz, minuet, and especially the polka) and the popular music tradition, with elements of African music.