Posted by: Steve Scherer | March 18, 2010

Geneseo B.P. – the move to Rio

We are in the airport at Salvador, waiting to board our flight to Rio de Janeiro.  The atmosphere of our group is very different from our last airport visit.  Everyone is very relaxed and comfortable in our surroundings.  The anxiety of being in a foreign country is gone.  After a couple of days struggling with money issues regarding the currency exchange, everyone is now carrying only Brazilian Reais and is easily calculating the currency exchange in their heads to keep track of what they spend.  The band members are enjoying trying to communicate with the Brazilian people, and are playfully speaking to each other in Portuguese bits and pieces.  I even heard a couple of them talking about the time in military time, as Brazil is on a 24 hour clock.  We were delayed boarding our flight, and didn’t get on until about 16:15.  We have now said goodbye to our tour coordinator Conner, and our good friend, guide, and interpreter Homberto.  In Rio we will be greeted by a new agent from Conners tour service, and a new interpreter named Alberto.  I have decided today to take my new Brazilian name as, Steveberto.  I expect others to copy this popular move.

One of the reasons for everyone’s very relaxed and happy state of mind, is the afterglow of a wonderful musical experience at our performance this morning.  I will try not to describe at length, because much about describing the morning performance is emotional.  When we arrived at the school, many of the children were outside and began waving and giggling and showing off.  There is nothing fancy about this facility.  Much of it is rather primitive.  But in the Brazilian way, it is sufficient, and much more comfortable and accommodating than many of the homes and buildings we have seen.  It is a very caring environment.  The children were clearly very excited and happy about our being there.  The best place for a performance to take place, was outdoors on a huge slab of concrete which was a basketball court.  The entire area had a roof and places to sit along the two long sides.  As we set up, kids from the school assembled, filling the seating on the two sides, with a large group of the younger ones sitting on the floor right in front of the band.

Today, there was not a local band, but there was a group of four drummers from the town, who were asked to join us.  I would put them at late teens, and early twenties.  The performance began with the playing of the Brazilian national anthem.  There was a woman from the school singing into our microphone.  All of the children sang the anthem loudly, to the music of our band.  They have never heard a band play any music before, so for their first listen to be by a great college wind ensemble, caused them all to respond enthusiastically with their voices.  It was our first song, and already we were being emotionally touched by what we were seeing and hearing.  2nd was the Star Spangled Banner.  I have to take a moment to mention that, on this trip, being so far from home and bringing such a special gift to these people, it has been exceedingly meaningful every time we have had the opportunity to play our patriotic music.  This version of the Banner is in 4/4 and is very triumphant.  We also have been performing the same version of America the Beautiful that the Honors Band played.  It affects us emotionally when we play these pieces.  Today, the assistant conductor, Dr. Shawn Vondran, sang the Start Spangled Banner.  He has a formally trained voice and gave a very stirring performance.

When we played Cuban Overture, we invited the guest drummers to join us.  They stood at the front of the band and improvised.  They moved gracefully and very animated as they were playing.  They were dancing while playing.  At the end of every song, the audience cheered wildly, whistled and waved.

While the band was playing, on songs I don’t play on, I walked around snapping photos of the kids, and shooting videos.  I stopped and spoke with Conner, who explained to me that they are working very hard to trying to get a band “installed”.  He said that surely, after this inspiring performance, and with the donation of the many instruments from us, the children would be very eager and motivated to learn to play music themselves.  For these children, who have nothing, this may be the opportunity that gives some of them direction in their lives.

The last song was Sing Sing Sing.  Our percussion section stood at the front of the band mixed with their percussion setion.  When the song got cookin, all of the kids got up and started dancing and clapping and cheering.  During the middle drum solo section, the American drummers alternated short solos with the Brazilian drummers.  This song ended with such excitement, that it spontaneously ended the concert.  We had intended one more song, but the kids proceeded to disperse as if we had ended.  They approached our members for a long time afterwards.  They asked for autographs, posed for pictures, wanted to touch us on the arm or hand, wanted to see the instruments up close.  I knelt on the ground to pose for a picture with a group of kids, and they just crashed up against me, thrusting themselves in to be included in the picture.  There was so much excitement.  The members of our band were speechless.  Many were moved tears, many long before the end of the concert.  It was a breathtaking experience to see how powerful this performance was in the lives of these children.  The music moved them, and it moved us.  We communicated with perfect clarity.  As many of our troupe verbalized, this was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life.  Music transformed into pure emotion.  We leave, and they will go back every day to that same place.  But we all believe they will remember us and this day.



  1. music has such a wonderful impact on young children. slammed

  2. It’s cool that you could influence children with music in such a profound way.

  3. I think it’s safe to say that this performance was the most meaningful one of the whole trip. The excitement of those kids must have been surreal

  4. That sounds like an incredible goodbye – to spend it jammin’ with others who greatly appreciated your visit! Great videos too! It looks like you changed all of those kids’ lives by playing that concert!

  5. This sounds like such an awesome experience for all of you! Life-changing for both you and the kids you performed for. I can’t really even imagine being in an atmosphere like that–where you’re with kids who have never heard band music before. I hope that this truly does leave a lasting impression on all of them.

  6. It sounds like this was and amazing experience. That’s what music is supposed to do. I’m so glad all the kids and band members had such a good time. 🙂

  7. Wow! It makes me really sad when I think about the things that we take for granted here like our national anthem and listening to other bands and just being in band and then you go to Brazil and they are just thrilled by these things. They are all so interesting to them. It sounds like it was a truly inspiring experience.

  8. that sounds like it was absolutely amazing. And steveberto? really?

  9. That’s really weird how they are on millitary time. That would be so different to adjust to.

  10. Soooooooo cool!!!!!!These kids sound absolutely adorable 🙂 and sweet too. I love hearing about life-changing stories like this because they really make you think. We’re really lucky it seems like compared to these kids. Amazing!!!

    p.s. I missed you today! lol

  11. That sounds like an incredible experience. I can only imagine how you feel playing our national anthem on the other side of the world. For children who have never heard a live band… Man. That gets me choked up. What a Divine gift that you’ve all been blessed with. I can’t wait to hear all the stories. I’m proud of you all. I’ll keep watching for updates

  12. the end of this post was really touching and humbling. i liked it

  13. steveberto huh? so is that an invitation for us to call you that in class?

  14. **Ms.

  15. Oh and P.S. Mr. Edwards brought us cookies today… Why don’t you bring us cookies?!

  16. It’s funny that Emily mentioned that because I was thinking the exact same thing. As I watched the videos and read your blog this completely reminded me of the West Virginia mission trip and the joy that we brought to the children’s lives. By the end of the week it was so hard to leave and say good bye. It’s those kinds of experiences that you remember all your life.

  17. This experience seems practically religious 🙂 I felt similar things when I went on a mission trip, except I was delivering love and the word of God, and you guys were delivering the love music. I know back in elementary school when we’d have professional musicians come and play for us it was always memorable. I’m sure those kids will remember you guys forever.

  18. This experience seems practically religious 🙂 I felt similar things when I went on a mission trip, except I was delivering love and the word of God, and you guys were delivering the love music.

  19. Wow all of this sounds so awesome!!!!! What an experience. Cassey is in many pictures and videos. Saw Allison too 🙂

    Love the kids and been really cool to watch the clips and try to view a tiny of what all of you are participating in.


  20. This is very intense. Just by reading this, my heart aches for those childeren, but I am happy they got to have this experiance. I can only imagine how you felt when the kids wanted a picture with you: special, important, and very emotional. I only wish that I could have had that kind of experiance to see all of the childeren. Sounds like a wonderful time, I would be sad to leave. Hope the rest of your trip is just as good. By the way, I don’t think the whole new way of saying your name would work out for me…Beverlyberto?

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