General

A review of online capoeira music classes: part 3

This is the last post in a mini series of 3. I already reviewed Mestre Nenel’s private berimbau classes and Mestre Negoativo’s study group. Today I’d like to talk about the Músicapoeira course by Mestre Ferradura.

Músicapoeira – Mestre Ferradura

Registration and onboarding

Músicapoeira is one of the courses offered on the IBCE (Instituro Brasileiro de Capoeira-Educação) website. The IBCE offers a variety of interesting courses for capoeira teachers and students. Courses are scheduled in specific periods throughout the year, you best keep an eye on the website so you don’t miss an opportunity to sign up.

When registering for a course, you can proceed through the checkout process on the website and pay with PayPal. Afterwards, you’ll get an order confirmation in your mailbox. About a week after signing up, I received a welcome email from Mestre Ferradura with a short introduction video and invite links to the private WhatsApp and Facebook groups.

Practical information

Price: around €80 for the complete course of 8 weeks. Just like the other two courses I followed, it’s a very fair price considering what you are getting in return. Prices may vary depending on the course.

Language: The sessions were all in English, Mestre Ferradura is quite proficient in English. He also translated for Brazilian guest teachers he invites from time to time.

Communication: Mestre Ferradura can be reached through WhatsApp. There’s also a closed group chat where he sends notifications and a private Faebook group where everyone can post.

Organization: Every Wednesday, a new course was made available on YouTube. Every Saturday there was a live Q&A through Zoom.

His internet connection was the best so far.

Methodology

Músicapoeira was the most intensive and challenging course out of the three, because instead of just dealing with berimbau toques, Mestre Ferradura focused on basic concepts of music theory. That’s something I had never studied before and I felt like a total beginner, just like a lot of fellow students. Luckily he is a great teacher who explains everything very well. In his prerecorded videos, he uses clear language and takes you on a step by step approach to explain the concept at hand. By demonstrating with simple songs and toques from capoeira, it was easy to put the theory into practice. He also provided assignments and a weekly test (which was optional) to motivate you to practice at home.

The main idea behind his classes is that capoeira music doesn’t have to be hard to learn. The majority of us have learned to play the berimbau by copying what others do without thinking about the fundamentals of it all. Mestre Ferradura takes an entirely different approach by first teaching these fundamental concept of music theory (what is a bar, beat, melody, rhythm, harmony, …) so that playing the berimbau or singing a song becomes as simple as reading a page. He does this mainly using the O Passo method, where you learn to feel the beat and rhythm with your body. I had heard of O Passo before, but it was the first time I actually used it. And I can say it works really well, if you practice regularly.

Lesson structure

The course was divided into 8 weeks. Each week, we worked on a new topic or expanded the topic from last week. On Wednesday, the Mestre published a video on YouTube (unlisted) containing that week’s course. The videos were a combination of theory, exercises, tips and background information. After the video, you could fill out an optional quiz to see if you grasped the content. The next three days were meant to practice, I mostly spent one to two hours per week (which wasn’t sufficient). If you had questions, you could send them to the Mestre. Every Saturday we would meet up with the entire group in a Zoom call, where the Mestre would go over all submitted questions. Every week he also invited a special guest in the Zoom session. We met Contramestre Rafael, Contramestre Marcelo Finco, Mestra Tisza and others!

Lesson materials

The most important lesson materials were the weekly videos on YouTube. Next to that, the Q&A Zoom sessions were recorded and published on YouTube as well for those who couldn’t attend. Songs or websites that were referenced during the sessions were shared afterwards in the group chats.

What I liked

The course as a whole was amazing. It truly opened my eyes about studying music. Thanks to Músicapoeira, I dove deeper in the basic concepts of music and as a result I rewrote all my berimbau toques and viradas in sheet music. When we are allowed to train again (we’re currently still in lockdown), I”ll try to use the methods he taught us in my own classes. I also finally understand why certain things work the way they do in music, something I had never thought about before because I somehow always viewed capoeira music and percussion as something you could only learn by trial and error.

Mestre Ferradura is a very open and professional teacher. I really liked the fact he encouraged other people to promote their projects, it was actually the first time I talked about the blog to a group of people. Not a lot of mestres like to give the spotlight to someone else in their own classes. As a good teacher should, he acknowledges when he doesn’t know the answer to a question, rather than spinning up a nonsense answer (as a lot of mestres unfortunately do). He does provide plenty of references for those who want to dig a little deeper.

After the course concluded in the eighth week, the Mestre even organized a few extra sessions with other teachers. He really did make an effort to provide more learning opportunities for the group outside of his own course.

Formula for success

Looking back at all three courses, there are clear elements which make an online class a success. I’ll list the most important ones:

Good infrastructure

Make sure your setup is decent. A stable internet connection and a good webcam and microphone are the basis for a successful online session. Make sure you are in a room without echo or distractions and have a professional or neutral background.

Prepare your classes

If you want to be professional, make sure you know what you are going to talk about in each session. Create a lesson plan with clear topics and goals. It’s okay to freewheel now and then, but it’s best to always have a framework to work in.

Provide added value

If possible, create documentation which can be shared with your students. Whether it is a summary of each class (in written form, as a video, …), or homework assignments between classes, people appreciate having some form of material to keep and review when the classes are over.

Group interactivity

Allow for your students to interact with you and with the group as a whole, during and outside the classes. The group will be more involved if they can asks questions, give feedback and discuss things among themselves. Keeping your group small helps to create social cohesion.

The best thing about 2020…

… was definitely the amount online initiatives in capoeira. Never have there been more live interviews, classes and events with teachers who you’d never meet in real life. I am very grateful for the opportunities provided by Mestre Nenel, Mestre Negoativo and Mestre Ferradura. They all have their own style and approach and they share valueable information. I learned tons of new things for all three Mestres.

— Vinho

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