Bem-te-vi... Opening Up

Sao Paulo first appears as orange snakes of light intertwined beneath us as the plane sinks through fog, and then we are on the ground and everyone applauds….driving into town the sky is pearly;  the city is grey and ochre and blue and green and noisy and inviting…

And that’s the start of three months living in Sao Paulo, working with my good friends at Santa Marcelina Cultura – amazing music education organisation –– and at the British Council, and the State Secretariat of Culture,  and with the extraordinary Claudia Toni. We are thinking about how deep engagement in music transforms lives by  inspiring  confidence, courage and creativity, and we are furthering our experiments in The Power of the Stranger (see my April Tedx Hamburg talk of the same name ). We are investigating  how organisations can become reflective entities in mutual learning relationships, and how to forge common bonds and meaningful shared practices across cultural boundaries. I’ll be facilitating seminars, workshops and discussions about music learning, voice and  improvisation;strategic leadership and creativity, and learning, learning, learning about social pedagogy and Brazilian musical cultures.

When I was last here in October, I was preparing a speech in a high up hotel room. I was unclear about how to express the depth of connections forged over two years  between my organisation  Sage Gateshead –,   from a tiny city in the north of England, and our partners in the great vastness of Sao Paulo;  and I stood up to look out at the skyline for inspiration. A tiny, beautiful bird appeared on the balcony opposite, and looked me in the eye, and sent me the clearest message you can imagine. I heard – “you belong to Sao Paulo and Sao Paulo belongs to you” – and in that moment I understood that our two  organisations had  learned to see each other with the  bright eye of the compassionate stranger, piercing right to the heart of experiences  that are openly shared, and  reflecting  ourselves to ourselves. And then I found out that the name of the bird was…….bem-te-vi……..or in English I-see-you-well…..

So today I have arrived and tomorrow the work begins- I will keep you posted!

Roots and Wings