Faculty Spotlight: Arkay Brown
Get to know Mobile Music Lessons piano, clarinet, voice, flute, and guitar faculty member Arkay Brown! Learn more about her on our faculty page. Read more faculty spotlights on our blog.
Q: How did you get started playing your chosen instrument?
A: As a first-grader I remember begging my mom and day to start taking piano lessons. I really, really wanted to play the piano but we didn't even have a piano. By second grade my grandparents found a beautiful old upright piano, gifted it to me and said they wanted to fund my piano lessons so I could get started. It was one of the best gifts I have ever received and has kept on giving in so many ways! I took piano lessons, performed in recitals, and competed in IMTA piano festivals through my senior year in high school. I advanced to the state level multiple times receiving I ratings. My foundation in piano opened up my my world of music in many ways over the years. I started playing clarinet in 5th grade and ended up majoring in music at Iowa State University with clarinet as my major instrument, as well as participating in vocal choirs and applied voice lessons throughout college. Though piano, clarinet, and voice have remained my main focuses in teaching and performing, about three years I started devoting consistent time and practice on the acoustic guitar. It has become another musical love of mine and I love to spend time practicing it...but it all started with piano in second grade!
Q: What is your favorite piece or composer and why?
A: This is almost an impossible question for me to answer. I love and enjoy SO many types and styles of music ranging from solo piano/guitar music to wind band/orchestral scores to rock, to contemporary Christian, to pop music of today! But, to keep things simple I will stick to my first love of solo piano music and go with Frederic Chopin's "Prelude in E minor" (Op. 28 No. 4). I love the Romantic period music and this one is simply gorgeous. It is just as meaningful and emotional to someone playing or listening to it today as it was when he wrote and played it in his day. It's an incredibly melancholy sounding piece that has so much room for expression, and I remember it being the first piece that I truly understood and played with rubato (a flexible tempo that allows for stretching and pulling the rhythm in an expressive way)!
Q: Why is music important to you?
A: Music is what propels my almost every day...it's my passion and profession, yet it's also my fun, my outlet, and my escape when I want it to be. There are just so many ways that music is weaved into my life. I love performing, teaching, accompanying, and directing music of all kinds. So, it's definitely my livelihood, yet it's also what I do when I just want to relax by sitting down to figure out the latest song on my guitar I just heard in the car. I love how music makes me feel, I love the mystery of how certain sounds can be so moving, so catchy, or so complex! Music is something I can never get enough of which is why I constantly stream music while doing just about any other task.
Q: What is your teaching philosophy?
A: Teaching music encompasses so much more than just how to perform on an instrument or sing. When we're making music we are using many, many skills at once like keeping a steady beat, reading rhythms and executing them precisely, interpreting and executing what the composers intentions are, as well as listening and analyzing our performance. Studying and performing music also requires discipline and commitment that provides lasting positive habits for life. Lastly, my favorite skill/benefit of teaching music is using creativity and expression to bring feeling and emotion to our music. Music truly does express what words simply cannot. I always encourage my students to find the meaning behind the music or assign their own meaning to the music and then set out to express it through dynamics, tempos, styles, etc. It is important to me to create a setting where every student, no matter what skill level, can be successful in expressing themselves through their music as well as enjoy and appreciate the expression in others' performances.