Grad Story #27
Grad Story #27
Master of Music
Where are you from?
I am from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, a town called Juiz de Fora, which is about one hour from Rio de Janiero.
Is that where you did your undergraduate degree?
Juiz de Fora is about 4 hours from my state’s capital Belo Horizonte and I went to Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
So how did you come to UND?
I came here because I had a friend who was studying at UND. When I started to look towards my international education and career my friend told me about Dr. Ingle (my trumpet professor) and said he would help me to be successful.
At first, I sent Dr. Ingle an email using Google Translator because at the time I didn’t speak one word of English! So I sent an introductory email and told him I wanted to come to study with him. Within one hour, he replied! He told me either I would need to come to audition for him, or put some videos on YouTube of my performances.
I worked hard to find someone in Brazil who could take my old videos from VHS to DVD and that took more than a month. But I finally got them up on the web and sent them to Dr. Ingle. He told me he’d help me, and then it took me about another year to be able to come to the United States. I moved back home to save money, I sold everything and I asked people for help – finally I was able to come. All I had was my airline ticket and $300 in my pocket.
I remember arriving at the airport expecting to see my friend, and when I greeted him he introduced me to Dr. Ingle who had also come to the airport to collect me! Wow! I was so surprised. I asked someone on my flight who spoke Portuguese to write on a piece of paper “I don’t speak English, but if you believe in me, I can learn.” So I started my schooling here at UND in the ELS (ELS Language Centers) program. After a few months there I received a scholarship and then after a year I graduated from the program. I worked really hard.
When I was done, I went to the chair of Music, Dr. Wittgraf, and told him I was ready to begin my graduate program. The Music Department gave me some financial assistance with a tuition waiver and graduate teaching assistant position. So, in one year after arriving with only $300 and speaking no English, I was accepted into the music graduate program and given an assistantship in Music and one in Anthropology, AND I had learned English. I didn’t know that was possible.
It was hard at times. For a year I ate only one meal a day and there was a period of 6 months when I didn’t collect a paycheck. But everyday, my will carried me through. When I was young, a trumpet player who I really admired once told me that when he was at school, he didn’t have money to eat, so he would go to the practice room and study more. This is what I did, too. I love to play, so I would go to the practice room and do my homework. I am there everyday.
When I left Brazil, my mother gave me a small vial of gold and told me that when things seem difficult, to look at that gold as a reminder of what I am doing in life. I carry it with me always.
You are a trumpet performer. Do you also compose?
Yes, a little bit, but first I am a performer. I love to play and I especially love to play new music. I love to have friends compose for me and even though I can’t pay them money, I can promise that their music will be played.
Who inspires you?
My father and my mother, my advisor Dr. Ingle, and my brother all inspire me. And people who come from nothing and are doing great.Lots of people inspire me.
What are some of the opportunities you have as a graduate student?
I have learned a lot being a GTA in the Music Department and having an opportunity to interact with students from many other departments on campus and my position with Anthropology has also been very valuable.
Last year I had an opportunity to attend the International Trumpeters Guild in Minneapolis, where I met or sat next to every trumpet player I grew up listening to and studying. It was great. I also went to Moorehead (MN) to T.R.U.M.P.E.T.S. (The Regional Upper Midwest Performance and Education Trumpet Summit), and I started to get to know other professors and trumpet players from this area, which was a really good experience.
And I presented my first paper in English at The UND Graduate School Scholarly Forum. I was excited and I worked really hard to do a nice job there! And I have been accepted to present my paper at the International Trumpeters Guild in May of this year in Columbus, Georgia.
I’ve also been given a chance to play one of the hardest pieces of music for the trumpet, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, taking the place of my trumpet professor since he was scheduled to be out of the country. I’ve had many opportunities at UND. For a person who came to UND without speaking English to be placed in this position is incredible, and I am very grateful for this.
Tell me about your research.
The title of my paper is “Uncovering New Solo Trumpet Music from Minas Gerais, Brazil”. My research started when I was an undergraduate student. I went to a school that was 100% performance and where there was much collaboration between performers and composers. Towards the end of my undergraduate studies, I came to realize how great the music from Minas Gerais is, and realized that there is nothing written about it. I decided this will be my life’s research, and have remained very passionate about it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I’m now in the middle of my second semester and beginning to think about what I’ll do next. I see that I will still be researching the composers from Minas Gerais and studying trumpet. I would like to think about doing a DMA or a PhD, but I am not sure yet. I am just so happy here and I don’t feel like I am done with UND yet. There is still so much I want to do, so we’ll see.
A friend once asked why I would come to the United States to research Brazilian music. But actually, I came to UND to develop my trumpet skills and musical ability to be able to play Brazilian music much better. And while my topic is Minas Gerais music, what I am doing here is so much more than that.
What is one of the funniest memories you have of being here?
We had a guest trumpeter from Yale University - one of the biggest trumpet players ever. After his concert, a group of us went to a local restaurant to continue our conversation and I ended up sitting next to him. We ordered some drinks and the first second that the waitress put the drinks on the table, the professor, who wasn’t paying attention, knocked the full glass into my lap. I said, “I will never wash my pants again!” It was very funny.
How was your first winter? Was it a shock?
(Laughs) Yes. The problem with that first winter wasn’t December. The problem was October! It started to get cold, and then it just kept getting colder! By December I had my clothes sorted. I remember going to class one morning and it was beautiful, the sun was shining – perfect day. By the time I left class it was so cold, and I didn’t have a jacket. I thought I would die!
Something I will always remember is being invited to spend Christmas Day with my advisor's family. They didn’t have any obligation to me, but it was so special. So my journey is not only professional, but it’s personal too. And you can’t put a price on that.
What advice would you give to a graduate student coming to UND?
Get to know your professors, because they know what they are doing. If our goal is to become a professor some day, something I have learned here at UND is how to look at my students as people, not as numbers.