Informal learning in Brazil

8th May 2016

Musical Futures spoke recently with Fernando Rodrigues, a PhD student at the Federal University Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is carrying out a study entitled ‘Adaptations and applications of informal practices of learning music at the State School Professor Hilton Rocha’ and has been implementing informal learning practices of Musical Futures / Professor Lucy Green with students. Here is what he is finding…

“Many students have never experienced a class of music in school. I proposed to the Principal the idea of informal learning classes, and now we lead three hours of a music class each week.”

Pibid Hilton Rocha apresentação final 2015 2

The class is split into one hour of workshopping activities, one hour of skills based learning – on guitar for example, and the third hour the students learn their own music informally.  Instruments are scarce, with students bringing their own, using percussion instruments the school owns, or making use of cellphone apps/technology. “The director of the school doesn’t want to invest in instruments in case they are stolen. The school is located in a very dangerous, violent area.” says Rodrigues.

Example of a group of students performing a song of their choice:

In terms of impact, the school so far is seeing the following:

  1. Most of the students were interested about music theory and asked about the possibility to have more specific classes on the subject
  2. They loved having performance opportunities in school. These motivated the students to rehearse and practice the repertoire they were playing during the breaks of the regular classes during the week before the performances. These took place or in the music room or on the stage located in the schoolyard
  3. Students highlighted that meeting new people and making new friends was a very important point of the project during the year
  4. Students who were beginning to play in the project found the activity to “catch music by ear” very difficult, since students who have had some previous experience with instruments found this activity easier
  5. Students were encouraged to sing, but many of them felt embarrassed and besides, among student-teachers, who were conducting the activities, there were not a specific student who was studying singing
  6. The project in general encouraged the students to play instruments and participate in musical activities at school

Where next?

“The idea is to continue and if possible expand the music instrument practice and group activities, highlighting the informal practices of music learning. Students had the idea of starting to produce a written material about music theory based on the songs that students know and play, so students of the school can check when necessary.”

School website

Informal practices in a formal context of musical education An experience report – by Fernando Rodrigues



Excellent workshops ‑ extremely accessible for all abilities and levels."

Claire Armour, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra