Flutist, composer, author, and educator Fernando Brandão has performed as a bandleader, sideman, chamber musician, and soloist in his native Brazil and the U.S. Using concert, alto, and bass flutes and pífanos, he performs across an eclectic repertoire of traditional and contemporary Brazilian music styles, combining jazz improvisations with an authentic Brazilian sound. A leading educator in Brazilian music, he has given many lectures about its music styles, history, and composers.
"I strive for students to grow as musicians, instrumentalists, and professionals. I ask them to always learn all aspects of the music they play: its history, grooves, melodies, harmonies, lyrics, styles, emotional depth, and nuances of expression. And I ask them to develop their listening and ensemble skills."
"When it comes to instrumental technique, I try to make rhythm the focus of the technical approach, understanding rhythm both theoretically and practically, and solving technical problems through understanding and incorporation of rhythmic elements. Rhythm is your technique."
"In ensemble classes, I tell students that the music is going to be fun but challenging—not just for the rhythm section but for the whole band. The groove is essential, but I also like the ensemble to experience playing arrangements with kicks, written basslines, dynamics, long-form tunes, counterpoint lines, and, at times, elaborate arrangements. I often choose songs people don't know to expose them to contemporary composers. I try to bring in about five to six styles a semester that could include choro, maxixe, samba, partido alto, bossa, samba-canção, samba-funk, samba-jazz, baião, ijexá, frevo, maracatu, and more."
"The most important thing I want for my students is musicality in playing whatever they want to play: expression with rhythm, with pulse, and with movement. To make a beautiful sound, it doesn't need to be one kind of sound, but it does need to be expressive. I also want them to be aware of the culture, to be aware of what they're playing and feel confidence in it. I try to make students aware—without being self-conscious—of how their body works with the instrument when they're performing."
"Improvisation is about creating stories, connecting ideas, and interacting with other musicians. A full tone, clear articulation, and variety of tone color and dynamics are fundamental for clarity in your phrasing, independent of the music style you play."
"When teaching a groove, I talk to students about the music and the social history of its styles, and among other things, explain the differences between bossa and samba. I ask them to sing the rhythms with feeling, not just the written rhythms. If they can groove when they sing, they can certainly groove when they play."
"Working with both classical and popular music has been fundamental for me to develop sound control, dynamics, reading, playing in tune, listening, interpreting a variety of styles, playing by ear, and improvising and developing melodic and rhythmic ideas on the spot. I try to keep challenging myself with new experiences, and they help me to be a better teacher. My curiosity and thirst for knowing about the culture and history of Brazilian music keep me researching and learning new things every day."