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Special Series: Music, Culture, and the World Cup in Brazil. Issue 1: Music and the Games

Juliana Baioni is a dual citizen (American and Brazilian) doing a Performing Arts Abroad music internship in Brazil from June 15th to July 13th. During her time in Brazil, she is writing a weekly series for us on the World Cup, music, culture, and the intersection of the three. This is the first post of the series, and be sure to check back next week for the next post!

Me? Honestly, I’m not a big sports fan. I was always attracted to more artistic rather than athletic endeavors growing up. Sometimes I’ll pass a group of friends swapping statistics about this player or that game and mostly, it goes over my head. I understand that for many people sports are important and that there are some amazing stories that come from the sports world, but team against team is nothing special for me.

Insert country rivalry, and it’s a whole new ball game.


There is nothing on earth like the World Cup. Thousands upon thousands of individuals decked out in their country’s colors, all hoping for victory, are pouring into the stadiums around Brazil. Brazil’s second time hosting the World Cup–the last time being 1950 when the competition resumed after hiatus during the Second World War–has been filled with mixed emotions. Excitement and anger, passion, and frustration… Had you asked me last year if I was going to be in Brazil during the Cup, I would have told you absolutely not. Funny how things work, huh?

Walking in streets glowing yellow and green from passionate Brazilian citizens, I have to admit that I am glad I came. To know this country, my country¸ in its fervor, its joys, and its challenges was something I simply could not pass up. When will I ever get the chance to see Brazil like this again?


I found it refreshing, however, to find that not everyone in Brazil has a head filled with futebol. Programa Aprendiz, where I am interning, is an exciting and successful program initiating a culture of music education in public schools in Niteroi, a city just across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. Mostly, teachers of Aprendiz educate students in basic musical knowledge and theory. Those who are interested participate in a strings class that prepares them for a chance to perform with an auditioned performing group that has gained national and international attention, with the organization having created strong connections with artists in Germany and Norway over its fourteen years of existence.

“One thing you must know,” Daniel, program coordinator for Aprendiz, told me during my orientation, “is that Aprendiz is not just about teaching kids how to play instruments but it’s about giving them confidencein themselves and respect for others.” Confidence, in themselves as a Brazilian, as a musician, and as a human being. This is the power of arts education.


Me? I’m looking forward to the weeks to come, not only for the games, but for the culture that I’m coming to know and experience through the arts. I may be cheering, donned in yellow and green, but more importantly, I’m getting to know and love the people. Honestly, I couldn’t have chosen a better place to do so than Brazil.

Written by Juliana Baioni
Performing Arts Abroad Music Intern in Brazil

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