Posted by: Steve Scherer | March 19, 2010

Geneseo B.P. – Friday morning

While writing this, I am sitting at an outdoor cafe in front of a beachfront hotel on the beach at Copacabana.  It is morning, and the band has just left to visit a museum and do some other sight-seeing.  I have chosen to stay back at the hotel to do some work on my National Board Certification, which is due to be submitted next week.  So while writing, I am sipping on a fruity drink, watching the waves roll in from the ocean, and wtaching the local people go about their business on a Friday morning.  There have been people on the beach since sunrise.  Running, playing soccer, playing a game much like pickle-ball, walking, yoga, selling, etc.  Alberto tells us that everyone who lives here goes to the beach every day.  That is where they socialize.  If they have a break at work, they go to the beach.  When I was talking to the host director last night, he said he’s been so busy getting ready for our performance that he hasn’t had his beach time.  I think I like this beach time concept.

Last night was very different from our previous experiences.  Surrounded for the first time by well-dressed, business-cut, academia types.  After the performance we were approached by many of these people with questions that were focused and specific.  Interestingly, to be given access to this building, we had to have a security badge displayed.  So these people must have some higher status.  Some of them also came onto the stage and wanted to take a closer look at our percussion.  I found that interesting, because we are using standard concert percussion instruments rented from a university.  They seem as curious about these uncommon instruments as we are about their traditional hand percussion.

After, we went to yet another amazing restaurant.  I don’t know why, but everyone keeps exclaiming about the taste of everything being better in the food and drink.  I don’t think I mentioned that a few days ago I had cashew juice at breakfast.  I love cashews, but didn’t know they could juice them.  While at the restaurant, we were joined by the host conductor from the university.  He talked with me for a long time about his excitement regarding the donation of the instruments.  He said because of the large number of instruments, that it is a very significant event that they have been donated to Brazil.  He said that because music is so important to all Brazilian people, that this large donation has an impact on the cultural relationship between Brazil and the United States.  The one difficulty has been, the instruments are slow being cleared through customs.  The security officials are very suspicious about these nice instruments coming into their country.  He said musical instruments like these are very very expensive in Brazil.  And many times, people come to sell poor quality instruments for a very high price.  So the authorities can’t understand good quality instruments being donated for free.  The original arrangements were to pay $1 tariff on each instrument coming in.  Because some of them are suspicious that the instruments will be sold for a profit, they are asking for as much as $300 tariff on each instrument.  It is being worked out, but nothing like this happens fast.

He told me that this donation has inspired him to create a web site for instrument donations.  He is responsible for determining need and placing the instruments at their destinations.  So what he is now thinking, is instead of receiving another donation of many instruments and then distributing them, through the web site, people could donate one or two instruments at a time, and he would coordinate the placement of the instrument so that when it is shipped, it would go directly to its destination.  This would also raise no suspicion on the part of the customs officials.

This afternoon we will have some time to shop in the local neighborhoods, and spend some time at the beach.  Then later in the afternoon we go to the Samba School.  Our picture was in the paper again today, with a story about the concert we will give tonight at the Samba School.  Our new guides also were marveling about how difficult it is to get something into the paper because of the politics.  The picture was take from the front of our concert program, so someone who saw yesterday’s performance must have made it happen.  It’s difficult to anticipate what will happen tonight, because of the amount of verbal description we have been given about the favelas and the samba schools.  So there may be thousands in attendance, there may be only hundreds.  We may play with hundreds of their drummers, or only just a few.  I’m a little anxious about this one because of all of the mystique that has been created around the favelas.  I will share the details when after the concert.  Until then, moitobrigado for keeping up with our adventures.  Tudube.



  1. I could use some beach time too right about now.

  2. Cashew juice sounds absolutely horrible. P-chop it.

  3. How interesting that they are suspicious of you guys donating nice instruments. I’m glad you’re leaving Brazilians with such a favorable impression of Americans

  4. i would definitely enjoy being able to go to the beach everyday!! im jealous of Brazilians.

  5. thats awesome how they play some of the same sports we do down there

  6. so um…how was that cashew juice? im curious…

  7. Beach time sounds awesome right about now because it snowed here in Geneseo! its amazing how much those donated instruments would be worth in Brazil

  8. ha ha they play pickle ball. thats funny

  9. I wonder why people would be so suspicious that people are trying to be genuinely nice. Maybe they think Americans have false motives or something.

  10. That’s cool that a donation can effect cultural relationships.

  11. Haha they play pickleball too! =] I agree with Megan about taking the roof off of the band room and filling it with sand for our own beach time. I don’t like cashews in nut form, so I would probably not enjoy the juice. =/ This was for Fridays post too.

  12. this is Friday…I think the website the director was talking about sounds really cool and the beach time thing would be pretty amazing…i could spend all my time on a bech 🙂

  13. My vote is that we fill the band room up with sand…get rid of the roof and create our own beach time. :]

    It’s a weird concept to think about things in reverse. Like, you all thinking their drums are instruments are unique, and them thinking the same about ours….but i guess that’s all about perspective and what’s become customary for you. Hope the concert goes well!

  14. lucky! i wish i had some beach time. and it sounds like you guys are gettin pretty famous over there..being in the paper twice?? 🙂

  15. beach time does sound nice. and cashew juice? that doesnt sound very good

  16. boy being in the paper twice in one week in brazil is amazing, especially at their standards.

  17. I want beach time 😦

  18. I really envy you, everyone on the trip, and Brazilians in general right now. Beach time? That would be nice. A chance to just stop in the middle of the day and relax (similar to the Spanish siesta) would be incredible.

    Sounds weird to have your instruments considered weird ’cause I think our percussion style is the most common. Or maybe it isn’t. Something to look up.

  19. i don’t think the cashew juice sounds all that bad. but then again, i could be wrong though. i’m really looking forward to our beach time in florida! all this publicity sounds like it would be really cool too.

  20. I like cashews, but cashew juice?? :\ Beach time sounds amazing, and I’m extremely jealous, but we’ll all have our own beach time in a week from today!!! 😀 I hope that all the customs problems get worked out soon, and those kids can get the instruments!

  21. The beach sounds wonderful! It’s too bad you’re having problems with customs, but hopefully everything will work out. Also its great that they made a website for donations.

  22. thats awesome that they made a website for donations! i wish i was on the beach front right now instead of cold geneseo!

  23. Cashew juice does not sound good. At all.

    The beach time sounds awesome! I would be jealous, but we are going to Florida soon!

    I hope the instrument issue is worked out and the band enjoys its new fame. Have fun your last few days!

  24. haha I’m quite the opposite lizzie. Pickleball is EVIL!!But, back to the instrument donation thing. They must not get a lot of donations of stuff like this since they’re so suspicious, which is sad :(. I like the idea of “beach time” though!

  25. I have never heard of cashew juice before either. It sounds kind of weird. Hopefully you guys will get the instrument issue worked out. Have a good rest of time in Brazil!

  26. The beaches sound wonderful!! I think beach time sounds good too, but since there is no beaches here in Geneseo i could go for nap time in the middle of my day 🙂

  27. I loooove pickleball. Anyways, what the university director is doing to help people get instruments more easily sounds awesome. It is neat to hear about people who really do accomplish what they set their mind to, especially when they are helping others. Good luck on the concert!

  28. I bet your gunna miss the beach when you get back to Geneseo. I think its really cool that he made a website for instrument donations, i hope they get a lot of response

  29. Eh…..sounds like the Brazilian authorities got their who whos all twisted up in knot knots. I hope those kids get the instruments that they deserve. Quite envious on the whole beach liason……but Florida’s only one week away! Posso ter algum desses instrumentos, se mo reivindicacoes deles? Nao e grave. Eles percentem as criancas…espero.

  30. o i wish i was on a beach front

  31. Wow, I love how you described everything you were seeing. I am so jealous. The beach sounds beautiful, and “beach time” doesn’t sound half bad either. 🙂 Good luck with the customs problems. I am sure that an agreement will be reached. Enjoy the rest of your time in Brazil and don’t forget to bring us all souvenirs!!!!!

  32. Beach time is a great idea! Sadly, Illinois is a landlocked state except for Lake Michagan, which is around 2 hours away.

  33. It sounds like a great experience so far. The website sounds like a really good idea for future donations.

  34. Personally, I don’t think they juice the cashews so much as press them until juice comes out… I don’t really know though, so I’ll investigate.

    That’s a little sad, knowing that customs is putting such a high tariff on all of those instruments. I can sort of see why though. I’ve heard stories about instruments having to get a tariff when they’re imported, but never as high as $300!

  35. Thank you for allowing us to ease drop on your daily communication back to your students and family. Through your writing you directly and indirectly underlined the importance of music in the development of young people. If the enthusiasm, emotion and commitment that you have demonstrated are any indication of your teaching skills you are ONE GREAT TEACHER!! Good Luck on Nat’l Boards.
    The Best to You
    Rick & Lynne Weiss
    (Phil Weiss’ parents)

  36. You are so lucky to be at the beach and then in a week be at the beach again in Florida. The cashew juice sounds gross; I would like to hear your opinion. I would like to know how it feels to perform in front of so many people in such small spaces. Anyways hope your performance goes well, see ya later.

  37. First of all let me say that you are making me extremely jelous talking about your time by the beach. This has been a very busy week here. But anyway, I was quite shocked to hear that the tariff went from $1 to $300’s. That is a huge difference from what you guys thought it would be.
    The website thing sounds like a great idea though for donations.

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