Back to basics with Adam Brown

MUSIC educator Adam Brown’s teachings on music have expanded outside the confines of a classroom setting as he recently unveiled his published work titled “Fundamentals of Reading Music.” Released last month, the book focuses on teaching the basics of reading standard music notation.

Adam shared that this has been in the works since 2015. He started writing and finishing his first draft during his last contract while working onboard cruise ships as musical director and drummer, which lasted almost eight months long. He added that writing a book wasn’t part of the plan but it was the search for the perfect kind that would aid him in opening BAM (Brown Academy of Music)—together with his wife Anna Fegi-Brown—that led him to write his own.

“I was searching for a book to use for the school. I never found a book exactly as I wanted so that gave me the drive to write my own. I have been teaching music for more than 20 years so I used my experience how I was taught and how I taught over the years,” he said. “Then, I had to go through the editing process and I had other musicians from different countries and different instrumentalists go through the book to test it out.”

Prior to opening the performing arts school BAM, the Cincinnati native earned his Bachelor in Music Education degree at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, then returned to Cincinnati to teach high school music with lessons including percussion, marching band, percussion ensemble, drumline and guitar. He later earned a Master of Science in Education degree broadening his knowledge in creating curriculum to meet the students’ needs, then ventured to working for Royal Caribbean International where he met his wife, featured singer Anna, who shared his passion to open a music school.

For as long as he can remember, he has always been fascinated with music.

“Growing up, we had a piano in our house and I would learn to play songs by ear. I would listen to music in television shows, commercials, on the radio, or in movies and then start teaching myself the song at the piano,” he recalled. “By 7th grade, I knew I wanted to pursue music as a career. I first started teaching drum lessons when I was only 15 years old. I was asked to teach the younger, beginning students. From there I decided to go to college for music education where I had to learn all of the instruments, and then eventually earned my Masters Degree in Education. During my Masters program, I specialized in curriculum writing, which really came to be useful when writing this book.”

When asked how it felt knowing that his teachings can be learned from people living all over the world, he said: “I think the main difference with writing a book and teaching in a classroom is that, for more than 20 years, I’m used to teaching the students face-to-face. In writing a book, you may never meet people that purchase the book who learn on their own or use it with another teacher. I get weekly updates from Amazon and I can see that the book is bought in different countries. So most likely, I will never meet the owners of the book but yet they learn through my style of teaching and writing. That part still blows my mind.”

Apart from providing the essentials of music with the written word, Adam aims for the book to be used as a tool for students who are at the beginning stages of their music education and those who know how to play but are unable to read standard musical notation. Whether this book is used as a lesson guide or for one’s personal enjoyment, it promises that readers will be able to read music proficiently.

“Learning how to play, perform, and how to read music doesn’t have to be overly complicated or difficult. There are two basic ways of learning to play music: reading music or learning by ear (cifra). Learning by ear is quicker and is the most common option, but there are benefits as well to learning how to read. Learning to read gives greater understanding to the music. If it is written out with notation, there is less chance for error in the interpretation and makes it easier for musicians to work together because it then becomes just a matter of reading from the same arrangement. Music is a language, and to be able to fully communicate musically, it helps to learn the basics of that language. The book was designed to be used by children and adults, those with zero experience or those who learned how to play by ear who want to learn how to read music,” Adam said.

Apart from Amazon, the book is available at BAM studio located on the second floor of Northgate Centre, Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. in Banilad, Cebu City.


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