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Play it again Clarence.

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Director pipes up classical music as a pastime

It was a Saturday evening. Clarence Brown (affectionately knows as C.B.) anxiously awaited the start of his moment endearing performance in the confines of the cozy All Nations Seventh-day Adventist Church in Monrovia, California. Although the self-taught keyboardist had played at endless weddings as well as a host of funerals, receptions, graduations, and other social events--this recital was different. The 150 guests, including a long list of friends and family, would witness the closing of a chapter in C.B.'s life. "This concert was a musical tribute in memory of my mother who just passed away in June," he says. "The performance had a very deep meaning for me in that it helped me come to a sense of closure in the grieving process."

So after the overture boldly echoed through the sound system, C.B. sat front and center at the church's new console. He then collected his thoughts, selected his stops, quickly checked the pipe organ for problems, took a deep breath, envisioned a conductor's downbeat, and allowed his fingers to dance. "I felt a spiritual connection because I knew how much my mother enjoyed hearing me play," he says.

The 49 year old, who refers to himself as a "natural-born communicator," says his passion for playing classical music is just an extension of his profession. By day, C.B. serves as the director of corporate communications for Southern California Edison Co. He overseas all of the employee, executive and external communications, including media relations, utility advertising, and speech writing. "I communicate information and corporate messages to the company's various audiences, and on the outside I communicate through my music."

Although C.B. can replicate any genre of music, his passion for classical keyboarding started when he was a child, while he observed his sister practicing on the piano.

His talent is especially unique in that C.B., who only plays by ear, can listen to extremely complicated pieces and reconstruct them on the keyboard. And this "God-given" talent allows him to indulge in a very fulfilling and satisfying pastime. For C.B., conveying messages and moods through classical music is "pure joy."

Getting started

* Try the piano. The keyboard is an instrument that serves as a bridge to other instruments because these basics can easily be applied elsewhere. According to C.B., it's not unusual for a string instrumentalist, for example, to first study piano.

* Get formal training. While C.B. enjoys playing by ear, he does recommend that you learn how to read music for greater flexibility. For formal instruction, get referrals from the music department at local schools and community colleges.

* Start children early. "Learning music helps kids develop the core competencies they need in life," asserts C.B. Playing music on the keyboard enables children to sharpen their skills in mathematics, coordination, concentration, and discipline. These talents are not only important when learning a musical instrument but also essential in daily living.
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Author:Brown, Monique R.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:505
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