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Traditional Dances from Brazil in Villa-Lobos' Music for Piano

A lecture describing the different Brazilian folkloric dances from different regions and ethnicity. After discussing the three main important ethnic groups in Brazilian culture it later, focus on each region: North, Northeast, Central-West, Southeast and South and their representative dances using pictures of original dancers, music, and instruments. Some of the music is recorded live in its originality.

The main purpose of this presentation is to provide a wide view of Brazilian culture, ethnicity, and folklore and how Heitor Villa-Lobos incorporated them in his music, especially the Guia Prático.

Guia Prático – The Guide for Brazilian Music Education

Focusing on Villa-Lobos’ Guia Prático and its importance in Brazilian music, this lecture reveals his intentions as a composer, musicologist and pedagogue by incorporating Brazilian folk tunes and children’s songs in a guide for all teachers.

With historical, biographical and analytical approach, there is at least three relevant emphases in the analysis:

  1. The quotation of folk tunes and children’s songs-a perpetuation of Brazilian culture and a legacy for further generations;

  2. The pedagogical intentions of the Guia Prático-written for beginner, intermediate and advanced students to be part of conservatories’ and music schools’ repertoires;

  3. The use of quotations in short works-an exercise for his larger compositions.

This presentation has no intention to be a deep research of Villa-Lobos’ music, but an opportunity to reveal a composer concerned with his country’s culture.

Choro for Everyone

A lecture-recital with choros (Brazilian ragtime), a popular Brazilian genre which became popular in the 19th century.

The Eight Sonatinas for Piano Solo by M. Camargo Guarnieri

Guarnieri's eight sonatinas for piano solo are little known in the piano repertoire, and this presentation provides an analysis observing three aspects of his compositional style: nationalism, neoclassicism and his compositional style. Since they were composed in the time span of fifty-four years, from 1928 to 1982, the analysis will show a gradual change from tonality to atonality bordering serialism, where consonances become foreign bodies in the context of the work. He expands the melodic materials becoming more dependent on the harmony when melody and harmony become interwoven.

Brazilian Nature in Almeida Prado’s Music for Four Hands

This presentation is an analysis of Almeida Prado’s VI Episódios de Animais (VI Animals Episodes) - a work for piano four hands inspired by animals typically from Brazil. Like Messiän, Saint-Saëns, and Debussy, Almeida Prado was inspired by nature, and though this set is equal in quality and technical difficulties as any of his peers, it is less known.


VI Animals Episodes front page states: 

"The first movement is the call of the great kiskadee, described with juxtaposed rhythms between the four hands and the pedal. Cross-rhythms and ostinatos make a thick texture recalling the noise of the hornets in the second movement, followed by a crab-like rhythm in a rude and dry atmosphere describing the golden king crab habitat in the third movement. The fourth movement is a free and ethereal remembrance of blue and green, depicting the dragon flyer movements and colors. The rattlesnake has a terrible and horrific noise that comes as a continuous pattern punctuated by quarters and eighth notes motives throughout the fifth movement. The final movement, Prado describes the marmoset using irregular rhythms of triplets and quintuplets."


Because of its highly critical and cynical character, the other movements uses melodies describing the animals by using different dances: tangos, waltzes, polkas and “dobrados.” This set is a testimony of the composer love for music and nature, with an impish humor, craftsmanship and a variety of ingenious musical devices.

L'Histoire du Soldat 

The original work written for violin, double bass, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, a narrator, the soldier and the devil, and one or several dancers, is almost never performed due to the elaborate production necessary. The trio version was arranged by the composer for a clarinetist friend, which makes this work more accessible to program, though still not as performed as expected. The purpose of this performance is to provide the audience with this wonderfully effective work, showing Stravinsky geniality and compositional language still very idiomatic to the twentieth-first century taste.

Catching Up - Bringing Freshman Piano Students Up to Speed

How to bring to speed students with less background on their first year in college. Several aspects are considered:

  1. Accessing the student ability to read (sight-reading skills);

  2. Repertoire background;

  3. Technical difficulties;

  4. Memorization;

  5. Performance anxiety;

  6. Encouragement.

Unknown Piano Literature from Brazil

Because there is a need for available piano scores for beginner to intermediate students, this presentation will feature music by Brazilian composers from different periods. The selected works will be presented by relevance, with emphasis on technical performance implications, Portuguese terminologies for tempo marks, and compositional styles.

Handicapping Your Practice For a Better Performance

Daily meaningful work is necessary during practice to reinforce memory and correct learning though not always the performer will have perfect conditions. To help the not so perfect conditions it is helpful to handicap the practice at its late stage. For a beginner pianist any small imperfect situation while on stage can damage a performance:

  • condition of the piano;

  • outside and inside/audience noises;

  • poor lighting;

  • a wondering mind.


As a teacher and a performer I have used different ways to memorize a score with the addition of some exercises to handicap my practice, hoping to overcome anxiety and conquer easier/better performances.


This presentation provides seven steps used in my teaching and personal practice to help memorization with videos of students applying the steps during their lessons in preparation for their performances.

The Unknown Pre-Nationalistic Music from Brazil

Much has been researched and written about Brazilian Nationalistic piano music, but almost nothing has been written about the pre-nationalistic piano music. This presentation will focus on the unknown Brazilian piano literature prior to the Nationalistic movement. It will briefly cite Portuguese composers and their most important compositions, as they greatly influenced music making in Brazil. The Prince Regent summoned the Portuguese musicians to the new colony of Brazil. Most of the piano music from this period sounds Classical, Romantic, and Impressionistic with a hint of Brazilian elements. A little over fifty composers will be listed with their most important compositions and some will be discussed with more depth offering musical examples and biographies. It will be an opportunity for piano teachers and pianists to know a considerable amount of works rarely performed or available as a list of composers and repertoire will be provided.  

Brazilian Hidden Gems for Beginner and Intermediate Piano Students

Because there is a need for available scores for beginner to intermediate piano students, this presentation will feature music by Brazilian composers from different periods. The selected works will be presented by relevance, with emphasis on technical performance implications, Portuguese terminologies for tempo marks, and the use of the "national" language.

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