SPIN ROCINHA is a youth empowerment and music development program, implemented by Rocinha Media School, in which Rocinha’s young people develop industry-standard DJing skills to produce music that is based on their experiences within the community. Using a process that enables youths to explore issues of democratic, community participation through media empowerment, the program advances the distinctive cultural narratives that help shape Rocinha and the region.


This mobile DJ workshop series and after school program is a permanent, ongoing investment in the community of Rocinha, with a goal to provide a youth empowerment and mentoring program for at-risk youth through DJ workshops, intensives, classes, and performance, with focus on the youth issues of the constituencies within the favela. Our goals are to create an accessible environment where youth can make music inspired and achieved by electronic media; to create a responsive public and community context for the appreciation of new work; to present and disseminate finished works; to advance technical skills to make music and art; and to nurture young, innovative practitioners from all branches of the arts to collaborate in the use of electronic media. 


SPIN ROCINHA emphasizes an inter-generational approach to community-focused, cross-disciplinary media education that integrates music, performance, media literacy, and technology. This DJ program prioritizes digital music production as its educational development focus. Topics include technical proficiency, sound production, cultural and music history and theory, media literacy, narrative structure, and critical youth issues. Led by DJ Zezinho, in collaboration with community and international peers, this structured, hands-on program provides real-world digital media production and performance skills that serve as a catalyst to advance professional development and opportunities for individual youth participants.


Through producing music that builds an awareness of different aspects of Rocinha’s cultural vitality, as well as critiquing the struggles that youth face — their socio-political landscape, and how these manifest as needs in their communities — SPIN ROCINHA promotes positive self esteem and real-world skills that expand and disseminate into the wider community through live performance, peer mentorship, and the creation an online sound library and supporting website that is accessible to the general public. The program provides a fun way for youth to develop leadership skills, as well as to learn about music, media, technology, and the Rocinha community. It also galvanizes young people with similar interests, and provides a foundation for the career opportunities that are available in the field of sound and music production and post-production, and at the same time, raises awareness of social justice issues. By keeping our program mobile, we can work throughout the underserved neighborhoods in Rocinha, at no cost to participants. 


Total first-year participation in SPIN ROCINHA will mentor upwards of 25 youths. Rather than reaching out to as many students as we can, we want to mentor a small group of students throughout the course of a year. This builds close mentoring relationships that help the student recognize their potential, increase their motivation, build their confidence and communication skills, and acquire solid technical skills to support their desires in pursuing their career development goals and professional opportunities. We believe it takes substantial time and commitment to gain the kind of grounded life and technical skill it takes to access a better future, and to develop more meaningful ways to interact with, and influence the wider Rocinha community.