Organ Students Gain World and Music Experience During Trip to Brazil

Music students watch a music demonstration while in Brazil

Five students and Dr. Shelly Moorman-Stahlman, professor of music and College organist, traveled to Brazil as part of the Edward H. Arnold and Jeanne Donlevy Arnold Experiential Grant Program. Cody Kelly ’16, Kevin Gane ’16, Kara Hess ’17, Jerin George ’19, and Christian Johnson ’18 were the participating organists. They presented pipe organ encounters for children of youth and shared tone chimes and handbells, which are fairly new to Brazil, in the cities of Jundiai, Sao Paulo, Cubatao, Lorena, and Rio de Janiero. 

They educated Brazilian students regarding pipe organs and handbells, and performed for the children at the School of Music in Jundiai, Brazil. The LVC students had the opportunity to play the largest functioning organ in Brazil at the Monastery in Sao Paulo, while also getting to sightsee in their downtime throughout the trip. Dr. Moorman-Stahlman taught a piano masterclass for students at the conservatory in Cubatao, and Bruna Marinho, who visited LVC in January as a Brazilian exchange student, coordinated a day where the LVC group gave organ/handbell presentations to three schools in Cubatao. “I’ll be honest, I was very wary about the trip initially because I am not a music education major and have never wanted to teach children” said Hess. “But after everything, I could not be happier that I was given this opportunity. I think that overall, the children taught me more than I taught them.” 

The students visited Aparecida, the largest Catholic Church in Brazil. Another Brazilian exchange student, Luciana Lemes, organized a recital to call attention to the Cavaille-Coll organ in the Cathedral located in Lorena. Dr. Moorman-Stahlman played in a recital that also featured the orchestra and choir from Aparecida, a trumpet soloist, and a tenor soloist. Dr. Moorman-Stahlman and the LVC students were interviewed for a local television station where they explained their project throughout Brazil. 

The group proceeded to travel to Rio de Janeiro, where Dr. Moorman-Stahlman and the LVC students taught piano and organ lessons to the music students at the Rio Baptist Seminary. They also gave a large handbell workshop for the students at the Rio Baptist Seminary and the handbell choir from the first Baptist church. They attended a festival where they were able to experience local Brazilian dances. 

The student organists were assigned host families, which allowed them to have a feel for the culture of Brazil. The families served them Brazilian dishes. Some of their favorites were Churrasco, a Brazilian BBQ, Feijoada, and Brigadieros. The students learned a little Portuguese and by the end of trip they were able to communicate on a basic level with the host families and the children 

Although the students were able to sightsee, they took more from their venture beyond the sights. “I think this experience allowed all of us to really see the world around us and appreciate what we have here. We didn’t talk about inclusive excellence; we did it in real life,” said Kelly. “Doing it was much more impactful than just talking about it.”

Visit to learn more about the trip. 

The cultural exchange program will continue in January when music students from Brazil will visit LVC's campus for a three-week course, Music in Churches in the United States: Part Two.