Access to Music Can Change Lives

We have accompanied Maestro Márcio Selles and the work of Orquestra de Cordas da Grota since 2004. Through its eleven years of challenges and triumphs, their story continues to inspire us as we work in every corner of Brazil to strengthen leaders and social organizations. It was Márcio’s and his wife’s dedication, that brought music, access to culture and to university, professional training and opportunities for personal growth to the Grota do Surucucu community in Niteroi. Márcio was deservedly honored at the V Gala Miami on January 23rd, after which he sent us this moving message:

“One week after I was honored in Miami, after the excitement, joy and wonder passed, I leave my butterfly (tie) to return to being a caterpillar. And I want to thank each of you who made the dreams of our youths and children from Grota do Surucucu come true. Without the support of BrazilFoundation over the years, we would not be where we are today. Thank you all!

When we started 20 years ago, there were only 4 beginner students of the flute. Gradually we got more and more students and started to diversify the instrument classes: after the flute there came the violin, viola, cello, bass, ukulele, guitar and percussion … And the musical training started to transform the lives and environment of this community. We now serve an average of 500 students per year in Grota and other neighboring communities.

The community of Grota do Surucucu in Niteroi,situated next to  a middle-class neighborhood, has favela-like living conditions. Local residents live amid the violence of either drug trafficking or police operations that endanger the local residents. Children and youths feel the effects of social inequality, low education resulting in early pregnancy, low job prospects, educational, social and cultural exclusion, informal racism and the lure of drug trafficking. The municipality does not recognize these places, does not produce statistics or official data, if any.

The aim of our project is to provide a space for children and youth that gives them cultural opportunities, musical training at a technical level, and pathways to higher education…



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…In art we are all equal – no matter your skin color or social status. Music is such that all who are present are participants, and everyone has a part. Musical performance is a meeting between people where you can create meanings. The musical training process can be a tool through which to engage in exchanges, both symbolic and material. It can help create social networks of different contexts: institutional, historical, socio-cultural, teaching, or learning. Through practicing music, youth can develop skills such as teamwork, leadership, critical thinking, inclusion, citizenship and social justice. Thus youth learn to engage in the community in non-violent ways. 

BrazilFoundation has supported us since 2004: first with our headquarter renovations and by providing technical training to youths; in 2006, by supporting the creation of a pre-university entrance exam; then in 2010 with a project to systematize our methodology. Over the years the project has received several awards, including: Prêmio Cultura Nota10 (2004 and 2006), Semifinalist of the Itaú-UNICEF Award (2007), Utilidade Pública Municipal (2008), Ponto de Cultura (2009), Utilidade Pública Federal e Patrimônio Imaterial da Cidade de Niterói (2010), Prêmio Rio Sociocultural 2011 (as Social Entrepreneur); Social technology recognized and certified by the FBB (2013). After all these achievements, these youth understand the importance of education, and end up going to number of colleges. Some students who have already graduated become music teachers hired by schools and other organizations. Many have left the neighborhood and bought houses and apartments in other areas of the city. In addition, each youth will be a resource in his or her community and will share knowledge with others, multiplying and leveraging the knowledge gained. “

Learn more about Orquestra de Cordas da Grota here.

Or watch the orchestra at practice here: