Samba Drumming Course for New York City Music Teachers

Learn to play and teach samba in seven sessions

This is a complete course for teachers to learn how to play and teach the instruments of the Brazilian samba school taught by Dr. Dana Monteiro, a winner of the 2016 Big Apple Award and Lincoln Center Arts Teacher of the Year Award.  Dr. Monteiro has sixteen years of experience as a New York City music teacher at the Frederick Douglass Academy and over a decade of experience researching and performing samba in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Full Clinician Bio)


This hands-on course will teach six Brazilian percussion instruments: Caixa, Repique, Surdo, Tamborim, Chocalho, and Agôgo.  Teachers will form an ensemble and learn in an immersive and accelerated class based on clinician Dana Monteiro’s book The Samba School: A Comprehensive Method for Learning, Playing, and Teaching Samba Percussion.

*No prior experience in samba or percussion is necessary.

*Teachers will leave this program ready to start their own samba programs in their schools.

*Three teachers will be entered in a raffle to receive a full set of free samba drums for their school.    

*All participating teachers will receive ongoing support in creating a sustainable samba program in their school.


Harlem Samba

The Brazilian Percussion Ensemble of the Frederick Douglass Academy

Why Samba?  

Samba is participatory music. The music is structured to be inclusive.  Ensemble sizes are flexible (from 3 players to 300!) and players of various skill levels can play together in the same bands.  Samba is perfect for schools with low music participation rates and for schools with large class sizes.  Samba has multiple entry points, is rigorous, develops a high level of rhythmic sensitivity, and is a great deal of fun.

Click here to learn more about the Frederick Douglass Academy's Harlem Samba   

Course Syllabus:

Session 1-October 12An introduction to samba Instrument Sectionals. This class will begin with a short video and audio introduction to the music form including a brief history of samba in Brazil. This majority of this session will be spent learning each instrument separately.  We will learn about proper technique for sound creation and traditional rhythms for each instrument.  We will also learn about “training” rhythms for beginners and how these rhythms can be played alongside more advanced versions.  Participants will receive a copy of the course book.  

Session 2-October 19: Instrument Sectionals. Similar to the previous session, most of this class will be spend on the instruments separately.  We will review and strengthen our understanding of proper technique and basic rhythmic patterns.  We will also devote time to learning calls and responses, and the entrances and endings for each of the patterns introduced.  

Session 3-November 2: Forming the Ensemble. In this class, we will shift our focus from small-scale techniques to large scale ensemble arrangements. We will begin by playing the basic samba groove and will apply our understandings of entrances and endings to create the outline of the samba song structure.  The participants will be able to play patterns at their individual skill level, as beginner and advanced patterns can be played together within the same ensemble.  

Session 4-November 16: Breaks. In this class we will learn about breaks, momentary alterations in or departures from the basic samba groove.  We will learn three breaks, each characteristically different, that will be part of our final arrangement. We will also begin to discuss advanced pattern variations for the caixa and surdo, further “thickening” our rhythm.

Session 5-December 7: Breaks, Alternate Endings, and Alternate Beginnings. This session will introduce new ways to begin and end the samba rhythm.  We will expand our knowledge of calls and responses, breaks, and soloing.  This class will focus heavily on group play and listening.  

Session 6-January 4: The Tamborim and the Song Form. This session will explore the samba-enredo, the carnival form of samba.  The first half of this session will be devoted to learning a song arrangement for the tamborim.  

Session 7-January 18: Conducting techniques and Course Conclusion.  With the rhythmic arrangement nearly complete, participants will learn how to conduct samba. Drawing on the participants experiences conducting other forms of music, we will learn common gestures, methods for counting, and conducting larger groups in teams.  We will conclude the course by playing our final arrangement with members of Harlem Samba.  We will also discuss the next steps for starting a school-based samba ensemble, including instrument maintenance, tuning, instrument acquisition, flexible instrumentation, and resources for further study.