Mãos Que Cantam


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“Mãos que cantam” (literally, ‘Hands that sing’) was born from the idea that deaf people should not be seen as deficient but as full beings with a biologically different form of expression compared to people who hear. At the beginning of this project, the deaf choir and its conductor delighted UCP (Portuguese Catholic University) with their music in and through their hands and showed us all that music goes beyond sound and that we can grasp it visually.

The choir served as an integration platform for deaf students at the university but was far beyond that and this project supported by Partis (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation) is proof of the life gained by the “hands that sing”.

Ana Mineiro (PhD)
Associate Professor at the Institute of Health Sciences
Portuguese Catholic University


The “Mãos que Cantam” (‘Hands that sing’) project, started in 2010, has created a deaf choir with students from the degree and master programme in Portuguese Sign Language of the Instituto de Ciências da Saúde da Universidade Católica, which began by performing together with the University Choir.

This project aims to demonstrate that, within the context of social responsibility, deaf people or people with decreased hearing can be part of choir.
The Portuguese Sign Language, equally rich and complementary to the musical language, enhances the expression of the deepest feelings, thus making each concert a unique performance. This is a worldwide pioneer project, concerning the integration of listeners and deaf people simultaneously in a choir.

The repertoire of the choir includes musical pieces like ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and ‘Eu Sei’ by Sara Tavares, which have been presented to various audiences (inside and outside the academic life). It is also important to highlight the interpretation of the fado ‘Com que Voz’ by Amália Rodrigues. This was the first time a fado – Intangible Heritage of Humanity and an intrinsic characteristic of the Portuguese identity – was translated into Portuguese Sign Language. Besides these themes, other authors have already been performed, such as Jorge Palma, Pedro Abrunhosa, We Trust, Manuel Rebelo, Trovante, among others.

The dissemination of this project among the community of listeners and deaf people have a profound impact culturally and, above all, on a pedagogic level.


The challenge of creating a choir of deaf students, who could interpret music not with their voice, but using the Portuguese Sign Language, was launched by Professor Ana Mineiro, coordinator of the master programme in Portuguese Sign Language and Deaf Education. The maestro Sérgio Peixoto, artistic director of the choir of the Universidade Católica, immediately embraced this idea and, together, they started a project whose main objective was the integration of deaf students in the university community through music.

For its innovative and inclusive nature, this project has aroused the interest of the media and through the support of the Universidade Católica, it was possible to present it to the general public.

The Portuguese Sign Language doesn’t have some terms and musical concepts, since it was assumed that they wouldn’t make sense in the deaf people’s universe. One of the guiding goals of the project is to, therefore, demonstrate that it is possible to express in Portuguese Sign Language certain musical concepts, such as the notion of intensity, polyphony, metric and the formal structure of a musical piece, in addition to the interpretation of the poem itself.

Besides this objective, it is equally important:

  • To demonstrate that deafness is not an impediment to musical expression.
  • To integrate the students of this degree/master programme in the academic life in general.
  • To promote equal opportunities for artistic practices, including musical expression.
  • To promote the dialogue between listeners and deaf artists through music.
  • To strengthen the social cohesion of the deaf, locally and on a national level.

The choristers that currently are part of the choir “Mãos que Cantam” (‘Hands that Sing’) are/were students of degree and Master programme in Portuguese Sign Language of the Instituto de Ciências da Saúde. Mainly, they are primary and secondary school tea-chers for deaf students and, academically, are preparing themselves to become teachers of other deaf students, thus multiplying the idea that the only barriers that exist in life are those that we build inside our heads.

Their involvement in the creative process is crucial and intense, since the necessary lexicon for the artistic expression in music is scarce. The rehearsals unfold over several hours, as all gestures are created and interpreted from scratch, by the choristers, in collaboration with the Portuguese Sign Language interpreter and the maestro.

Either to the maestro and for the interpreter, the challenge is immense. The communication effort is almost as big as the satisfaction of participating in this unique project. To the choir of listeners is to believe in the impossible and the opportunity to perform music, using different forms of expression. The respect for the difference gains concrete outlines at each concert.

The work experience and constant inclusion, the exchanges between various worlds apparently separated has sparked an intense gratification for all stakeholders: the increase in the self-esteem of the deaf choristers, the perception and integration of the difference among the listening choristers, the artistic experimentation through the participation in the performance and the multidisciplinary project perspective. It integrates an artistic component, but also educational and of social welfare.

1.2.1 THE TEAM
Sérgio Peixoto
Artistic Director

He began his musical training at the age of five in the Academia dos Amadores de Música (Amateur Music Academy) and at the age of eight as a chorister and soloist. Later, he joined the Instituto Gregoriano de Lisboa (Gregorian Institute of Lisbon). He has a degree in Musicology by the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

He was a member of the Olisipo Vocal Group from 1994 to 1998, with which he participated in international festivals for vocal groups in Germany and Belgium and international competitions in Bulgaria, Finland and Italy. In all of them they got the 1st place in the category of Chamber Choirs.

With the Vocal Group Olisipo, he records two Portuguese polyphonic music albums and participates in courses with the prestigious English vocal group The King’s Singers. Also as a Olisipo Vocal Group member, he participates in the Annual Convention of the Association British Choral Directors in England (1997) and is invited to perform a series of Masterclasses in Canada (Newfoundland and Labrador) integrated in the “Festival 500” (2000) for choral and chamber groups.

He was an effective member of the Gulbenkian Choir from 1998 to 2012, where he interpreted the great music pieces of the symphonic and chamber repertoire in concerts in Europe, Asia and America, as well as album recordings.

He is also a member of the group Tetvocal (1999), with which he has performed numerous concerts in Portugal, Brazil (2000 and 2002) and Thailand (2002 and 2003 at the invitation of the Thai royal house).

In 2003, he records with Tetvocal ‘A tribute to His Majesty the King of Thailand’ and in 2004 the ‘Lado A’ (‘Side A’), an album that honors the Portuguese light music of the last 20 years.

In 2001, with Filipe Faria, he founded the Sete Lágrimas consort, specialised in European Early Music, having participated in the most important music festivals in Europe and Asia. In 2007, with this group, he records the album ‘lachrimae#1’ and ‘Kleine musik’ (2008), ‘Diáspora.pt’ (2008), ‘Silêncio’ (2009), ‘Pedra Irregular’ and ‘Vento’ (2010)”, ‘Earth’ (2011), ‘En tus brazos una noche’ (2011),’Península’ (2012) and ‘Cantiga’ (2014), under the music publisher Murecords.

He is artistic director of several choirs, such as the choir ‘O Tempo Canta’ (IPMA 2003), the Choir of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (2008), the Choir Magis (2010).

He has been developing an unique musical project in Europe with deaf students of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, the “Mãos que Cantam” (‘Hand that Sing’) project, a choir composed of deaf people who use the Portuguese Sign Language and Music as a form of artistic expression. This project is supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Partis Programme) and the BPI Capacitar programme.


From an artistic point of view, the innovative aspect of this project relies in the creation of a new form of gestural communication, applied to musical interpretation, and in the development of an aesthetic sense between the gesture and music that is associated with it.
Thus, new ways of musicality are proposed and the universality of musical expression proved.
This project, funded by Partis Programme of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, is coordinated by the Maestro Sérgio Peixoto, Histórias para Pensar – Association.


FUNDAÇÃO CALOUSTE GULBENKIAN – Partis Programme: social integration through artistic practices | Financing Institution

PARTIS is a program that realizes our conviction that art can drive inclusion and social change through its unique power to unite people.

It was designed to support projects that use artistic practices – music, photography, video, theater, dance and circus – as tools that create bridges between communities that usually do not meet.

Among more than 200 proposals, 17 projects were selected from north to south of Portugal, representing an investment of around one million euros for a period of three years.

During its first year of life, Partis supported approximately 4250 activities, organized 117 public events and reached about 2700 participants.

During 2014, 17 human stories were born from artistic projects involving vulnerable groups, such as, 200 institutionalized young people have the opportunity to express and free themselves through photography, 15 refugees from different origins acting on the same stage, 50 prisoners who are producing and staging an opera or 10 homeless who collaborated in the production of a large festival in Lisbon.

PARTIS – Apoio a projetos sociais destinados à integração social através das práticas artísticas
Avenida de Berna, 45 A
1067-001 Lisboa

+351 217 823 547

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HISTÓRIAS PARA PENSAR ASSOCIAÇÃO – culture and society | Promoter

“From being about something to being for somebody”
Stephen Weil

The Histórias para Pensar – Associação (HPP; Stories to Think Association) was established in May 2009 by a group of professionals linked to museums, arts and education. It is a non-profit organization that has as main objectives:

  • Contribute to lifelong learning among publics of all ages.
  • Produce cultural, educational and creative projects aimed at all types of audiences.
  • Produce, promote and disseminate best practices in formal, non-formal and informal education.
  • Produce, promote and disseminate training sessions and certified workshops, informal and non-formal.
  • Produce, promote and disseminate cultural mediation practices, in its broadest sense.
  • Produce and promote networks of national and international partnership to support the dissemination and communication of cultural, heritage, architectural, artistic, educational and pedagogical activities.

Over its five years of activities, the association has been developing several projects, particularly in partnership with Mapa das Ideias in the area of training in Cultural Mediation. In 2011, the organization held the 3rd edition of the training course “Cultural Mediators”, held at the Museu de Cerâmica de Sacavém in Loures, and at the Museu Romântico da Quinta da Macieirinha in Oporto.

In December 2012, under the Trienal Movimento Desenha banner, the association presented the “BD ao Forte” project, which included an illustration exhibition, as well as the promotion of drawing workshops at the Museu dos Combatentes in Lisbon.

In February 2012, under the PROALV program for Lifelong Learning Partnerships, the “CETAID – Community Exhibitions the Tools for Adult Development” project was approved, involving, besides Portugal, four other European partners in Hungary, Italy, and two institutions in the UK, aimed to identify and promote good inclusion practices / curating / participation of local communities in the exhibitions organized by museums in each region (from August 1st 2012 to July 31st 2014).

During this project, HPP had the opportunity to meet and learn from several Portuguese and foreign cultural and artistic agents. In Portugal, we worked with the Museu do Trajo de S. Brás de Alportel – where, through an intense relationship with the local community, the museum is transformed into a place of identities, exchanges and sharing in a real social inclusion context – and with the Museu Michael Giacommeti in Setúbal – which has done a remarkable job of collecting life stories with regional seniors.

In October 2012, in partnership with the Museu Nacional de Arqueologia, we organized a meeting for American philosophers from the Center for Philosophy of Religion, Indiana, USA, regarding the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. During this event, a historical presentation of the events was held, as well as a tour through the streets of the capital, in order to visit the architectural remains of the earthquake and the resulting marks of the city’s reconstruction.

In 2010, HPP created the project “Mãos que Cantam”: a deaf choir composed of students of bachelor and master’s degree in Portuguese Sign Language at the Health Sciences Institute of the Universidade Católica. This project of social inclusion through the art (music) was funded by the Partis Programme of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

In HPP, we believe that knowledge generates affections. We believe in better channels for cultural, social and artistic education communication. We believe in diversity and difference. We believe in stories.

Histórias para Pensar – Associação
Rua Prof. Egas Moniz, 9 – 2.º Esq
2780-101 Oeiras

+351 214 262 650

+351 963 983 859

Association’s webpage

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AFAS – Associação de famílias e amigos dos surdos | Institutional Support

AFAS – (Families and Friends of the Deaf Association) was founded on July 22nd 1997, today with 19 years of initiatives and activities focused on supporting families, friends and deaf people, in the dissemination of Portuguese Sign Language (LGP), Deaf Culture and the Deaf Community.

AFAS has conducted and participated in conferences and national and international meetings, collaborating on working groups for political and social action.

AFAS has been fighting for bilingual family and social contexts favoring emotional and cognitive development, providing academic, professional and social success for deaf people, as well as access to a full bilingual education. They also promote the publishing and translation of reference works, including “O Grito da Gaivota” (“The Cry of the Gull”), recommended in the National Reading Plan.

The association fosters the appreciation of the Deaf, in particular at the artistic level, with cultural initiatives in which they are protagonists, or in collaboration with projects that are guided by the same values as the “Mãos que Cantam” choir.

AFAS – Associação de Famílias e Amigos dos Surdos
Rua C ao Bairro da Liberdade, Lote 12 – Lj 18
1070-023 Lisboa

+351 213 879 303

Association’s webpage

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UNIVERSIDADE CATÓLICA – Master in Portuguese Sign Language | Partner Institution

The Portuguese Catholic University was born in 1967 and is an academic community that contributes to the defense and development of the human person and its cultural heritage through research, education and services, as well as a presence in the Portuguese academia featured by a Christian vision of Humanity, giving a specific contribution to the body of knowledge.

The teaching at the Catholic University – which in 45 years of existence, granted degrees to more than 20,000 students – seeks to combine academic excellence and promotion of values.

Its structure is regional. Although the University is one, it is composed in four major centers: Beiras, Braga, Lisbon (headquarters) and Oporto.

It is the first modern Portuguese university not established by the state but by the Catholic Church, under the 1940 Concordat between the Portuguese Government and the Holy See. Since then it has made a significant contribution to the development of higher education in Portugal. It is recognized by the state as free and autonomous university of public utility.

The Institute of Health Sciences of the Portuguese Catholic University (www.ics.lisboa.ucp.pt), created on January 20th 2004, aims to coordinate the areas of knowledge that incorporate the issues of Biomedicine and Health.

It offers a degree in Portuguese Sign Language, an entirely adapted course for deaf people that, by methods involving b-learning and classroom sessions, conduct their education in higher education and obtain skills that translate into a highly differentiating factor in their integration in the business market. Among the 35,000 Portuguese deaf people, only about 15 have higher education. Students of the 1st Class Degree in Portuguese Sign Language are part of the choir of the Portuguese Catholic University.

The Institute also offers a Master in Portuguese Sign Language and Deaf Education, the only in Portugal, which offers specialized and high quality training in the field of deaf education. It has three branches of specialization: Deaf Education; Translation and Interpreting (education, health and legal sciences); and Research.

Universidade Católica Portuguesa
Edifício da Biblioteca João Paulo II – 5ºpiso
Palma de Cima
1649-023 Lisboa

+351 217 214 147

+351 217 225 075

University’s webpage

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FUNDAÇÃO D. MANUEL II | Partner Institution

The Dom Manuel II Foundation was established in 1968 by Senhora Dona Augusta Victória, widow of His Majesty the King Dom Manuel II. Its initial goals revolved around the support of charitable works in honor of His Majesty the King Dom Manuel II.

It is a private nonprofit institution, for social, educational and cultural aid, with activities in Portuguese territory, in Portuguese-speaking countries and with Portuguese communities worldwide. In 2007, the the foundation was recognized as a development NGO.

During his years of exile, Dom Manuel II had always shown a particular interest in the study and preservation of Portuguese culture and participated earnestly in supporting Portuguese soldiers sent to fight in World War I.

In 1983, the Duke of Bragança was appointed President of the Foundation, which has since expanded its scope of action, devoting itself mainly to the preservation of cultural ties between Portugal and Portuguese-speaking countries.

The first initiatives were developed by the Dom Manuel II Institute, with several training courses and the development of scientific research projects in Guinea-Bissau. Later, initiatives have multiplied in East Timor, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea, Mozambique, India (Portuguese-speaking) and the emigrant Portuguese communities abroad. Soon, the foundation hopes to contribute in a more meaningful way to the dissemination of the Portuguese language within the CPLP, as well as in other sectors of interest to its member countries.

This institution establishes cooperation agreements with various Portuguese and foreign institutions, always aiming to promote human development, both material and spiritual.

The Dom Manuel II Foundation follows a self-sustainability policy – it does not receive any financial support from the state – involving their civil society partners in their activities.

+351 213 423 705

Foundation’s webpage

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MAPA DAS IDEIAS | Partner Institution

Mapa das Ideias is a private company dedicated to the relation between museums, audiences and communities since 1999.

Museums – as cultural and socially relevant institutions – have enormous potential in the relationship with their audiences. They are unique in the way they gather knowledge, aesthetics and enjoyment, collecting objects and ideas. As in other fields of knowledge, its value lies in the power to communicate with their audiences.

Communication must be a voluntary act, built with a clear strategy by the Museum and its guardianship. Making common (“comunicare”) implies a deep knowledge of the audience, people and technologies involved. This process must be planned at various times, with a careful analysis of all the resources involved and the definition of the goals to achieve.
Mapa das Ideias specializes in communication and mediation and in the creation of relevant relationships through people, technology and creativity. It works closely with its client or partner, analyzing the needs and expectations of its public. Each project is unique, because each problem, each client is unique.

It has a light structure, both multidisciplinary and specialized, focused on research, content development and creativity. It works with a network of partners – freelancers, companies and associations – in very different areas such as design, multimedia production, animation and illustration, web, robotics, screen printing, or carpentry. The proximity of fields and research allow innovative synergies in either products or processes.

Before technology are people and ideas. Therefore, the Mapa das Ideias works with wood, clay and paper. But also with Web, mobile applications, 3D animation and games. In any of these projects technology is a tool, being useful as a means and never as an end in itself.

For the management of technology, the project should consider the communication objectives, the audience profile, existing resources and also saturation and interaction levels between them – whether it’s an exhibition, a website, an animated film or an education kit.

Creativity is a management tool, supported by constant training and research. However, it is also the way we face our projects, in which creativity frames knowledge processes and makes the visitor both participant and creator of her/his own experience, either at the Museum or in society.

Training and research are essential work dimensions. In addition to an excellent documentation center, there is a constant investment in vocational and academic training for the whole team. In this context, Mapa das Ideias has also invested in providing training to the community. In 2003, it held the “Communicating with Audiences at the Museum” course that – after an evaluation and reformulation – led in 2008, to the “Cultural Mediators for Museums, Arts, Science and Heritage” course. This course had several editions and is the backbone of the company’s training offer.

In 2012, through a Transfer of Innovation Lifelong Learning Program funded by the European Union, Mapa das Ideias coordinated and implemented the “Museum Mediators Europe” project . The project consortium included partners from Spain, Italy, Estonia and Denmark, and focused on the importance and creation of a training course for mediation in museums for professionals in order to fulfill these institutions’ mission. The project ran until 2014 with five pilot course editions (one in each partner country), resulting in the publication of a Guidebook, available for free on the project website (link).

In 2011, the Education and Mediation Service at the Museu Nacional do Traje, in partnership with the company, was awarded the APOM (Portuguese Association of Museology) award for Best Educational Service and Cultural Extension. In 2012, the same prize was awarded to the Water Museum of EPAL. For this museum, Mapa das Ideias took responsibility for the design and implementation of all educational workshops, both in and outdoors.

Considering its learning curve, Mapa das Ideias intends to continue its investment in European projects in the field of training, among others. Through a continued relationship with other partners – museum, associations, companies – Mapa intends to remain at the forefront of museology and education, crossing institutional boundaries between museums, schools and other cultural and social institutions, transgressing taboos, contradicting preconceptions.

Avenida do Brasil, 165-A
2765-676 S. Marcos

+351 214 262 650

Company’s website

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This ebook is an interactive and inclusive educational tool that uses Portuguese Sign Language and Music as forms of artistic expression.

Its aims are, on the one hand, to build a guidebook for hand gestures connected to music and deafness, which can be transmitted to deaf students and teachers in education institutions. On the other, a way to integrate deaf people in society and for listeners to understand that to feel the music in a different way is not a limitatio, but an accomplishment.

Thus, it is intended for any user (teacher or educator), listener or not, to use this manual as a communication tool for musical expression with people with hearing impairments.

The ebook is organized into three distinct parts:

Part One: Chapter 1 – “Mãos que Cantam: the project” and Chapter 2 – “Sponsors and partnerships”

Description of the project and its key players (the choir, the conductor), as well as all the institutions that support and engaged in its path and growth.

Part Two: Chapter 3 – “How to use this guidebook?” and Chapter 4 – “How do we work?”

Structured and detailed description of the methodology (phases of the creative process) developed in this project, organized step-by-step and illustrated with examples (video tutorials).

Part Three: Chapter 5 – “In Concert” and Chapter 6 – “Sharing good practices”

Sharing some concerts held in the project and good practice at national, European and international level in the field of hearing impairment.

The artistic practice is increasingly a valuable tool for social inclusion in its multiple and different facets (realities). Thus, this ebook also intends to function as a means of dissemination of the “Mãos que Cantam” project and other equally innovative projects in the field of social integration.


The work developed within the scope of the “Mãos que Cantam” (‘Hands that Sing’) project follows a specific methodology with defined phases:

Phase 1 – Selection of the song lyrics/ text.
Phase 2 – Selection of the preparatory gesture.
2.1 The search for the aesthetic gesture.
Phase 3 – The gloss.
Phase 4 – Putting the process into pratice.
4.1 The release and the end of the sentence
4.2 The introduction of the musical support
4.3 Adaptation of gestures to the music time.
4.4 Musical expressiveness.
4.5 Gestural polyphony.
4.6 The relaxation of the group.

Each of these phases involves many actors – the deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language, the teacher of Music Education, the interpreter of Portuguese Sign Language and the group of deaf and listening students (the choir) – with specific functions, always interconnected, during the different phases of the creative process.

Phase 1 – Selection of the song lyrics/ text

The teacher makes the selection of the song lyrics/text that will be interpreted by the choir.

It is intended to be inclusive, that is, a music that can be worked with both the deaf students as with the listening ones. So it can not be an instrumental song – it will have to contain text (poem).

Then the text is studied to understand the meaning of each word or phrase, followed by its translation into poetic/musical Portuguese Sign Language.

“The text is made for listeners and we, the deaf people, have to understand how we can connect it to the way we feel as deaf. Sometimes, there are phrases whose meaning has much to do with listeners and the listener culture; therefore, when we, the deaf people, read that text often realize that it has nothing to do [with the deaf reality]. So the selection of the text/lyrics is of much importance”.Patrícia Carmo, “Mãos que Cantam” choir
Phase 2 – Selection of the preparatory gesture

Interiorisation of gestures and its logic understanding in the poem, with the support of the deaf teacher and the interpreter.

The text is selected, its translation into poetic/musical Portuguese Sign Language is made and then the gestures are chosen. This process is a joint effort between the deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language and the group of deaf students.

The teacher of Music Education should follow the selected gestures that are being worked, learn their meaning and associate them to each part of the text. He/she should have an understanding of the gestural speech in the poem’s structure.

“When we read the text, we immediately make a collection of the gestures, a correction of the gesture. What does this gesture mean? What does it mean culturally? For example, in Portuguese Sign Language, we speak colloquially, not in an artistic way. As you have your language, which you speak in the day-to-day in a colloquial way, we also gesture a colloquial language. But when we pass these texts, which are poems, to an artistic form, we have to rethink and change this gesture to an artistic form. Hence the gloss is such a time consuming process, but it has to be done.”António Cabral, “Mãos que Cantam” choir
Phase 2 – Selection of the preparatory gesture
2.1. The search for the aesthetic gesture

Just as the spoken voice is different from the singing voice, so does the gesture.

Therefore, the goal is to find the first fluid aesthetic of the discourse with the extensive use of the gestures. This means the student should be prepared to discover his/her gesture in an artistic way.

This process is accomplished by using a few exercises, such as breathing and mime exercises, so that the student can relax and understand the meaning of the aesthetic gesture.

During these exercises, the teacher of Music Education should use the gestures of the poem.

This phase still runs without musical support, only text (poem) and gesture.

“The artistic gesture – I think that it’s also important to say – has to do with the pace, if it’s slow or it’s fast, and its selection also has to do with this. For example, just as Débora mentioned in respect to the sentences in Portuguese, there is rhyme. We also have our own, but this is how we usually speak Portuguese Sign Language. If we are talking about music, we have to find a gesture that is changeable and that its configuration can also be connected to the following one. Thus, it can not be a heavy, it has to give continuity to the following gestures. For example, if we are talking about the sun, we have to find another configuration, another gesture, that binds to the one that is being performed. We have to change it to a configuration that isn’t much different, so that this sudden change doesn’t occur.”Patrícia Carmo, “Mãos que Cantam” choir
“When we are talking about an aesthetic gesture, we have to look for one that is beautiful, artistic. For example, when we use various gestures and then realize that it doesn’t look very good, we have to look for another gesture and change it – one that stands out and that is truly aesthetic, truly beautiful.

It’s just like when we wrote in Portuguese – we and the listeners; listeners also do the same thing: for example, when they are writing a poem and a particular word doesn’t fit. Then they have to find another word. It’s the same thing with gestures. There are gestures that just don’t fit, that don’t feel/look good; so we have to look for another one, one that truly stand out and fit in that poem.”Débora Carmo, “Mãos que Cantam” choir

Phase 3 – The gloss

The gloss is the transcript of the Portuguese Sign Language for writing and it must always obey to the sequence of the gestures that are made.

It is, therefore, a different process of making a translation of Portuguese Sign Language into Portuguese. The gloss is developed by the deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language, together with the group of deaf students.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine (the) camp
Sun flowers
pick up (and) throw out

Imagine people thinking
(About the) past (and the ) future/Don’t need
Life now

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Imagine countries/Divided
Pick up throw out

(giving) Shouts/People falling/Pick up throw out
Religions differents
Pick up and throw out

Imagine (the) people (giving) shots
(that) became flowers falling

*Adaptation in April 22nd 2016.
Music and Lyrics: John Lennon
Gloss/Adaptation: “Mãos que Cantam” project

“We, the deaf, don’t focus 100% in the text. That is, there are things that we do literally; others, it depends. These are more visual things, things that have to do with what we have cognitively and the way we imagine things is very different from listeners. It’s totally different.”Cláudia Veiga, “Mãos que Cantam” choir
Phase 4 – Putting the process into practice

Interiorisation of the music time – still without musical support.

The teacher of Music Education begins to introduce some musical elements, such as:

  • The indication of the tempo signature (2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 3/8, etc.).
  • The tempo, using perceptible gestures.

The teacher should also use the breathing at the beginning of the musical phrases in a meaningful way, not only with the indication of the time signature; ie, the breathing will have to follow the indication of the time signature.

During this process, the teacher will have to understand the gesture and interpret the gestural time in the music time.

This means that, in addition to the music time, he/she have to assimilate the gestural time in order to verify if it fits in that time of the music.

“First of all, we make the change and adaptation to gloss. We discuss and select the gesture according to the art, in an artistic way; but this process it’s not immediately concluded – the maestro still has to help us in the musical sense.
It is through the maestro that we realize if those gestures are possible or not at that rhythm. It’s like when you’re writing music – you are always correcting it: ‘Oh … this is not right’, you correct it and play it again: ‘Oh… still not right’. It’s the same process with us. We sang and suddenly: ‘um … this gesture is not very good’. The process is not immediately finished. Then, we have to put it all together, test it several times and then we are ready to perform. It’s like that.
The music is here [he points to the maestro]. It is present through the maestro.”
António Cabral, “Mãos que Cantam” choir
4.1. The release and the end of the sentence

The release of each sentence is made with the introduction of the time signature and with breathing and its end must accompany the gesture until the end of the musical phrase, ending the gesture (of the teacher) in a perceivable way.

Even before the introduction of the musical support, it is important to have a joint effort between the teacher of Music Education and the deaf students.

4.2. The introduction of the musical support

With the introduction of musical support, whether recorded or live with other (listening) students, the deaf students are introduced in the music itself.

The process is carried out as follows: the release of the sentences is made with musical support, through breathing, with the time signature gesture, with the primary gesture in Portuguese Sign Language of the first word of the sentence or with the introduction of perceivable gestures to the students (worked before the introduction of the musical support).

“We are the lyrics and he [the maestro] is the music.”António Cabral, “Mãos que Cantam” choir
4.3. Adapting gestures to the tempo

During the process of adaptation of the gestures to the music time, it may be necessary a new introductory gesture, a new breathing or a different rhythmic marking during the song.

4.4. Musical Expressiveness

The facial expression and the amplitude of gestures, not only of the teacher of Music Education, but also of the student, should be used as it relates to the musical expressiveness of the piece.

4.5. Gestural polyphony

This phenomenon occurs when there is a deaf soloist, with a group of deaf students, and there are several musical phrases simultaneously.

The dominant hand always marks the rhythm and releases the soloist phrase, while the other hand suggests the release of the remaining group phrase and its support during the musical phrase; ie, both left and right hands have to work together with different groups and have to support the gestures at the end of each sentence in order to guide the choristers.

The end of the sentences should always be well supported by the teacher’s gesture, given the rhythmic time of the music.

4.6. The relaxation of the group

The relaxation of the deaf choir only happens in the audible end of the music piece, as the musical phrase may end, but there is still music going on. In this sense, it is very important to have the end of the sentences well supported.

4.2 Three central figures:
The role of the deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language, the interpreter of Portuguese Sign Language and the teacher of Music Education

The world around us is mostly listener. Everything is built by listeners, thinking of listeners. However, the world is a cluster of many other worlds, such as the world of the deaf and the world of listeners. In both communication exists. Whether through poetry, painting, dance or music.

With specific regard to music, it is an art attributed to listeners. For them, it means the sound of the piano, the violin, the voice. For the deaf, it means movement, rhythm, vibration.

There is music in the hands, there is music in the body.

“In our hands and body, we feel the trees rocked by the wind, the leaves twirling when they fall, the sea waves, the sunset… and the rhythm is also there. In the strength with which the wind rocks the tree, the amount and height of the waves, the spin of leaves and in the slowness of the sunset.”Patrícia Carmo, “Mãos que Cantam” choir

The presence of a deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language is essential both in the classroom as in a music class with deaf students.

For these students, the deaf teacher is considered a model because they see in him/her what they would like to be in the future. There is a sense of identification.

With the deaf teacher, they have the opportunity to learn:

  • To fight for their rights as citizens, and to be proud for being Deaf Human Beings belonging to society.
  • To preserve and give value to History, Education, Language and Culture of the Deaf Community.
  • To be proud to be bilingual (Portuguese Sign Language and written Portuguese).
  • To tell stories and histories, tales, fables, anecdotes, poems and songs.
  • To express what they feel or think through different ways and using different resources.
  • To sing and enjoy singing, using the Portuguese Sign Language.

It is, therefore, very important that the deaf students have contact with a deaf teacher. They share the same world, the same feelings and vision. In this sense, the deaf teacher transmits/teaches with greater ease (and property) the feeling of the music of the hands, which allows the deaf student to build it, experience it and maybe, thus, build a unique world.

“I don’t forget when we went to the School Quinta de Marrocos and performed with them [the students].
Initially, some listeners began to gesture and students didn’t care about anything they were doing with the music. The students were there thinking: “we don’t want to know what those listeners are gesturing in Portuguese Sign Language”. But when we arrived, everything changed completely: they were very interested in us, very obedient, very focused on music we were singing in Portuguese Sign Language.
In the end, they made a performance in which all the people who were watching offered us their congratulations. Because we are deaf and we get to them, because we are a model for other deaf.”António Cabral, "Mãos que Cantam" choir

The Interpreter of Portuguese Sign Language develops her/his professional activity of linguistic and cultural facilitator, interpreting/translating the information in Portuguese Sign Language and Portuguese. It is a key element in schools in order to guarantee the full participation and access to information and communication by students, teachers and technicians, deaf and listeners, in different areas and contexts, from the classroom to study visits and meetings. This professional is not a teacher and teaches no contente; she/he interprets and translates – work as a translator –, being present when the other professionals involved are not proficient in Portuguese Sign Language.

During classes and music activities, if the participants don’t master the Portuguese Sign Language, the interpreter interprets/translates content and information either in Portuguese Sign Language, either in Portuguese, between the (listening) music teacher, the deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language, the deaf students, the liste-ning students and other participants.

When a deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language – linguistic, cultural and identity model – is not present, it must be ensured that the interpreter of Portuguese Sign Language with language proficiency is fully knowledgeable of the visual parameters of Portuguese Sign Language, of phonological equivalents in Portuguese and also of the deaf community and identity difference, working on these aspects with the (listening) teacher of Music Education.

“Sérgio [the maestro] knows Portuguese Sign Language and learns very fast. However, she [the interpreter of Portuguese Sign Language Sofia Figueiredo] is our hands, our voice; for instance, if she were not here, we would talk, but maybe we would feel that there was always something missing, that there was a barrier, anything I would like to explain in another way. We would talk, but she allows us to speak more freely; she is interpreting for you, and he [the maestro] is listening and so we gain time.”António Cabral, "Mãos que Cantam" choir

The teacher of Music Education of deaf students should know the various forms of how deaf understand music and to be fully aware of the difference of her/his deaf students. She/he will need to tailor strategies and methods in order to be assimilated by her/his deaf students, especially in a visual way. In this sense, the contributions and partnership with a deaf teacher of Portuguese Sign Language will be essential.

At the same time, the teacher of Music Education must learn Portuguese Sign Language to interact directly with her/his deaf students and so that she/he can more easily find the most suitable techniques to music teaching.

On the other hand, the teacher of Music Education should work to captivate listening students for this process and adapt the more abstract and sensorial concepts of musical forms and structures for something more concrete and easy to understand.


During 2014 and 2015, several concerts were held to present and promote the “Mãos que Cantam” project in different institutions and places.

The list we now present aims to highlight some of the most significant performances of the last two years.

IN 2014:

Songs 4 all – voice and hand concerto
January 4th
Panteão Nacional, Lisbon
Joint performance with the musician Manuel Rebelo, the Emotion Voices choir and the CMVM choir.
See more | See more

IV Anniversary of the Magis choir
May 24th
Colégio de São João de Brito, Lisbon
Concert integrated in the IV anniversary of the Magis choir
See more | See more

Yearly Alumni Meeting
May 30th
Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon
Concert integrated in the yearly Law School Alumni Meeting.
See more

Acesso Cultura award
June 18th
Museu da Eletricidade, Lisbon
Acesso Cultura award delivery cerimony.
See more | See more

AFAS anniversary party
July 26th
AFAS – Associação de Famílias e Amigos dos Surdos, Lisbon
Acesso Cultura award delivery cerimony.
See more

APS anniversary party
September 24th
APS – Associação. Portuguesa de Surdos, Lisbon
Concert integrated in the anniversary of the APS.

Lagos choir festival
November 1st and 2nd
Concert integrated in Lagos Choir Festival and participation in the final play.
Watch video | Watch video

Instituto Nacional para a Reabilitação Anniversary
December 3rd
Commemoration concert on the anniversary of the National Rehab Institute (Instituto Nacional para a Reabilitação).

Para uma sociedade mais inclusiva
December 5th
Concert at the closing cerimony on a week dedicated to inclusive societies.

VoArte – 6th International Video, performance and “In Shadow” technology festival
December 6th
Teatro Municipal de S. Luís, Lisbon
See more | See more

IN 2015:

Concert with middle school deaf children
June 11th
Escola Quinta de Marrocos, Lisboa«n
Recording at Gulbenkian (Christine).
See more

AFAS Anniversary Party
July 25th
Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon
18th AFAS anniversary concert.
See more

pro-inclusion conference
July 26th
Faculdade de Medicina Dentária da Universidade de Lisboa, Lisbon
Concert at the pro-inclusion conference.
See More | See more

CRINABEL’s 40th Anniversary
October 29th
CRINABEL’s 40th anniversary.
See More

Concert with the Catholic Movements Choir
December 19th
Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Encarnação, Lisbon
Concert with the Catholic Movements Choir.
Watch video


The “Mãos que Cantam” project presents a methodology of social integration through artistic practice. However, thanks to the increasing importance that this type of methodologies have acquired as tools for social inclusion, the number of projects in this area has multiplied.

We now present some experiments whose innovative and inclusive methodologies are, therefore, considered good inclusion practices in the artistic field.

Setúbal Music Festival and Youth Ensemble

The Setúbal Music Festival was established in November 2010 as a partnership between the Municipality of Setúbal and the Helen Hamlyn Trust, an institution that supports education, culture and social inclusion with a particular focus directed at the youth community.

In 2012, a cultural association was established to legally represent the Festival, independently from the Municipality and the Helen Hamlyn Trust. In it are represented the community and the local artistic and social partnerships. More recently, in early 2015, the new governing bodies took the office.

As with most of the Festival’s activities, this association is mainly made up of volunteers who carry out their duties in coordination with the small professional team of the Festival.
The starting point of the festival was a collaborative process with several institutions / public and private associations of the city, to carry out educational and participative projects, directed especially to children and youth in the region: “workshops” of percussion techniques and creative writing of songs arise during the several months before each edition of the Festival, usually held in late May.

Public presentations and shows are usually held for four days, involving concerts of world-class visiting artists, both domestic and foreign, together with the presentation of several local groups of children and youths. The initial activity of the workshops, led by two Portuguese trainers / musicians, is being held each year and now attracts more than 1,500 young participants from the community.

Recently, in 2014, the Youth Ensemble of Setúbal was created, adopting the same premises of the Festival and bringing together young people from various backgrounds and life-styles, such as classically trained musicians, ethnic percussionists and youths with special needs but with a great musical talent. The repertoire presented by this group is also diverse, through classical music, jazz, world music, etc.

In addition to the Municipality and the Helen Hamlyn Trust, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, through the Partis program – Artistic Practices for Social Inclusion, also became partner of these two projects.

The Festival itself has been growing, starting with a three day event, but lasting four in the past two years. The artistic unity of the Festival has been achieved by the yearly choice of a particular theme for the workshops and for the concert programs: in 2011 the theme was Nature and Environment; in 2012 the traveler and visitors; in 2013 Communications; in 2014 the sea; and in 2015 the weather. Each of these issues easily and naturally relates to Setúbal and with the experience of those who live, work or visit the county.

The fundamental objectives of the Setúbal Music Festival remaine unchanged since its creation in 2010/11 and are closely linked to the city’s plans for their social, economic and architectural rehabilitation, plans that see culture, and especially music, as a key component for success. In this perspective, a long-term development approach has always been essential: this initiative is more than a “festival”. Starting within the local community, responding to their needs and especially to those of children and youths, we have been able to lay the proper foundation on which we can build.

Click on the link for more information about the Festival:

Festival’s website


Watch video

“Segredo Secreto” Project – Companhia Instável

“Segredo Secreto” (Secret Secret), produced by the Companhia Instável (Unstable Company), is inspired by a project presented in 1998 and 1999. It was created from the interaction between deaf people and dancers, based on the relationship between different languages, with special emphasis on sign language.

The result is a contemporary dance show, which unites dancers and deaf people on stage, in order to create a work on communication, based on movement – dancing or sign language.

Choreographer Ana Figueira, creator of the Company and play director, explains that non listening people have an intense movement of great authenticity, constituting a great learning for other performers.

Companhia Instável is a project that aims to create professional opportunities for Contemporary Dance performers. With an annual project since 1998, it aims to associate the imbalance and uncertainty inherent to contemporary art, to the need for stability and strength necessary for a company.

Click on the link for more information about the Company:

Project website

Watch video

“My body has something different from yours.
I think it’s exactly the same difference that you have from me. So we are equal.
I’ve heard about things you can not hear but with the whole body.
I’ve heard that everything is different but that you can see with your eyes.
And even if you did not see, I could show you, with hands or feet, a strand of hair would suffice.
If nothing is equal, why waste time saying it?
If everything is different, why not earn different spaces?
I know what I was taught about barriers and walls.
Now I can learn from you what to do with it.
You learnt to draw boundaries and I can teach you to redesign: with movement, which is the desire’s means of transport in journeys to any destination.
Who learns from whom?
I learn you without having to teach you what I do not know, before each step.
You learn me what you alone are after every gesture.
I dance at the end of things so that they resume.
You dance on their beggining, so that they continue.
I dance as a whispered question and you respond as you haven’t realized, but dancing.
I do not want to be out of me other than what you are inside.
You do not want to leave yourself with nowhere to return to yourself with me.
Do not look at me in that weird way, we are thousands like this, I assure you.
Let’s move the body on the game and change the rules of the body.
Alone, among us, with them here.
I dance as a whispered question and you respond as you haven’t realized, but dancing.”Eugénio Roda
“Singing without sound”

Mandy Harvey is an American singer and songwriter who, while studying music education at the Colorado State University, lost her hearing. However, and despite her dream of becoming a music teacher died, music still lives inside her. Despite her hearing loss being deep (110 decibels in each ear), her sense of rythm, pitch and passion are perfect. With the support of friends and family, Mandy continues to find joy in music: she sings feeling the vibrations on the floor and using the muscle memory of her vocal cords. Currently, she is working on her fourth album.

Click on the link for more information about the project:

Mandy Harvey Music website

Watch video

Watch video

Watch video

“Hope must never be lost. In it we find strength. And it is our duty to show and give it to others. Hope “keeps life moving” because it pulls us out of any dark situation. Continue to hope and make your dreams a reality.”Mandy Harvey


The “Mãos que Cantam” project was born from the combined dream of maestro Sérgio Peixoto and the Portuguese Catholic University, but above all from the passion, dedication (and preserverance) of each element of the choir.

However, over the years, this project had the support of several institutions that helped it to grow, to know and to be known. The team thanks:

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Human Development Program, Partis Program through the extraordinary Dr. Hugo Seabra (link);

The whole team of Logframe, which provided essential guidance in all project times (link);

All the institutional partners:
The Portuguese Catholic University, for proposing and believing in a choir of deaf people, the support provided by Professor Alexandre Castro Caldas and Professor Ana Mineiro (both from the Institute of Health Sciences of the Portuguese Catholic University), the collaboration of choir of the Catholic University through Rita Ferreira and Joana Almeida, and also to Professor Manuel Braga da Cruz, Professor Maria Teresa Leal de Faria, Dean Professor Maria da Glória Garcia and Vice-Dean Father Tolentino de Mendonça;
To Mapa das Ideias, for the tireless support in design, web design, text editing and translation;
To the Dom Manuel II Foundation, for the dissemination effort.

In its path, the project had the honor of gaining new partners:
The Association of Families and Friends of the Deaf – AFAS who kindly lent its headquarters for rehearsals, filming and meetings;
The Reserva na Fábrica (Association for Creativity, Cultural Mediation and Entrepreneurship), who kindly ceded a new space for rehearsals, filming and concerts (link);
The Portuguese Association of the Deaf (APS – Associação Portuguesa de Surdos), which kindly lent a space for rehearsals;
The Farm School of Marrocos, for their cooperation and for providing a living experiments laboratory for the development of this ebook.

A special thanks to the promoter of the project, Histórias para Pensar association, for all the creative and logistical effort that made so many goals possible.

A mention and thanks to all the colleagues of the first group of the Partis program, for the reflections, sharing, experiences and caring exchanged over these two years (link).

Finally, a special thanks to the artistic director, Sérgio Peixoto, for believing in this dream since day one; all interpreters who collaborated in the project – Joana Pereira, Ana Silva and Cristina Gil – especially to Sofia Figueiredo, always available for so many adventures; and of course, to the elements of the “Mãos que Cantam” choir – António Cabral, Débora Carmo, Cláudia Veiga, Patrícia Carmo, Cláudia Dias, Hugo Parreira, Helena Garrinhas – because they are the heroes of this story.


General Coordination
Ana Fernambuco | Histórias para Pensar – Associação


Sérgio Peixoto | Coro “Mãos que Cantam”

António Cabral | Coro “Mãos que Cantam”
Débora Carmo | Coro “Mãos que Cantam”
Cláudia Veiga | Coro “Mãos que Cantam”
Sofia Figueiredo | Coro “Mãos que Cantam”
Patrícia Carmo | Coro “Mãos que Cantam”
Maria João Nunes | Mapa das Ideias

Ivo Oosterbeek | Mapa das Ideias
Maria João Nunes | Mapa das Ideias

Ivo Oosterbeek | Mapa das Ideias
Maria João Nunes | Mapa das Ideias

Nuno Assunção

Artur Lourenço
Bruno Seabra
José Sena Goulão
Histórias para Pensar – Associação

Ivo Oosterbeek | Mapa das Ideias

Creative Commons License
This work by http://maosquecantam.org/ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This project was sponsored through the 1st edition of the Partis programme, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

The contents hereby presented are the sole reponsability of Histórias para Pensar – Associação and the “Mãos que Cantam” choir.

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