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JazzArts Charlotte Names Director of Education to Lead Jazz Academy

Charlotte, NC – April 18, 2022 – JazzArts Charlotte (JazzArts) is proud to welcome Dr. Patrick Brown as Director of Education, selected to serve as the inaugural leader of the JazzArts Academy, which serves thousands of students each year. JazzArts Charlotte is the region’s only non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the jazz artform through education and performance and is topping a highly successful thirteen-year run.

“With Jazz Education being our primary focus at JazzArts [Charlotte], we are thrilled to welcome visionary educator Dr. Patrick Brown aboard,” said Lonnie Davis, President and CEO of JazzArts Charlotte. “Patrick’s extensive work in jazz education aligns perfectly with the strategic direction of the organization and our long-term goals for continued expansion and service to Charlotte’s growing arts and cultural community.”

Dr. Patrick Brown was born in Charlotte and raised in Gastonia. He received his Bachelors of Music at Appalachian State University, his Masters at Winthrop University, and his Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Studies at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Since then, he has over 15 years experience teaching or leading an impressively long and varied list of music courses in both middle/high school and higher education.

Patrick will officially join JazzArts Charlotte May 23, after wrapping up a final semester at Middle Georgia State University.  Here are some excerpts from our recent conversation with him before he takes his post in the coming weeks.

What is the path that led you to JazzArts Charlotte?

Actually, when I was in grad school, JazzArts Charlotte was a new organization brought to my attention from a few local musician friends. I studied with John Alexander in high school, and grew up with Ron Brendle and many of the other local musicians on the jazz scene. Thanks to the beauty of social media, I have watched the organization grow and turn into this amazing thing. Not only am I coming back to “home”, but also to all the people I listened to as a young man.

How would you describe your approach?

I like to break the thought that jazz isn’t for everyone. I love working with students that don’t know what jazz is all about, and get them into the music.
My focus is to grow those already interested in the music and to reach out to those who are not yet. Anyone can discover jazz with some understanding and training.

What are you looking forward to in this role?

In addition to expanding the educational programs to meet the needs of our young students, I am interested in serving adult musicians as well. I believe there are a lot of musicians out there, who played in high school and college, and don’t have opportunity any more. My dad was an engineer who played in community bands. If that didn’t exist, he wouldn’t have had a chance to play music. Sometimes when we think students, we think young, but there are students of all ages.
I also envision expanding the reach of JazzArts Charlotte beyond the region. Over time, I can see this organization serving a larger area, and growing the name nationally, like a Jazz St Louis.

Who was a favorite music teacher of yours?

There are many. But the first that came to mind is my long time mentor Andy Page, who has performed in the JAZZ ROOM. The reason he is special to me is that he went beyond the classroom. He brought me and other students alongside of him to perform, which is a completely different learning experience. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but this is a wonderful example of what I think jazz is. Experienced musicians bring alongside the younger, to help shape and pass on the music. That’s the history of the music.

What led you to focus on education rather than performance?

Musicians all start out performing. Big band was my first and is still my favorite jazz to perform. Through college, I began receiving encouraging words from parents and students about how I convey the music. So it really happened organically that I was drawn more toward helping as opposed to performing.

I fell in love with watching progress through the students. I love seeing young musicians put things together, watching their playing and their careers develop.

I’m still grateful to get to play periodically. I have a gig in July at the Art in the Park Series in Blowing Rock and hope for a few more opportunities once I get settled in.

What does jazz mean to you? JAZZ IS …

Jazz is communication and relationships. This music is about the ensemble, and working together. You learn about democracy and communication through jazz.

Especially when it comes to jazz improvisation, jazz is listening. It can’t just be about what you’re playing, even for the soloist. listening to the piano player, the drummer: what you’re playing can be drastically affected by what you hear.

That skill resonates with life. A musical conversation is the same as having a spoken conversation. We learn a lot by listening. It can be easy to get caught up in what we have to say. But when we do more listening than talking, we have a more educated and fluent conversation.

What do you like to do when not at work?

I’m becoming more of an outdoorsman. My family enjoys time together hiking and visiting parks. I like to fish and play golf. And what better place than North Carolina.

Patrick is looking forward to building new relationships in the region as he settles his family in and seeks ways to expand JazzArts Charlotte’s core educational mission. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to him at JazzArts Charlotte events to help him feel at home again!

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