Professor Quiz: Carlene Brown
Meet the woman who brought the first undergraduate music therapy program to Washington state, and to Seattle Pacific University
I am doing a systematic review of research on music and pain management for the Cochrane Library. Doing this research will help us be experts on what can be said about music and pain. Then I’d like to set up our own clinical study within the next two years.
You play the pipe organ at Saint Brendan’s Catholic Church on Sunday mornings. What do you love about that instrument?
There is nothing like the sound that comes from a full organ and more than 1,000 people singing in unison. I don’t need an entire orchestra. That one instrument can bring people into extremes of passion and joy or create the most subtle sound to accompany prayer.
How did SPU’s music therapy program, the first undergraduate program in Washington state, come about?
It started because the students pushed me. When I told them about my background in music therapy, they asked, “Why can’t we have that here?” I saw the connection because the students at SPU really care about what it means to serve and that’s the essence of why someone would be a music therapist.
Explain music therapy.
It’s a clinical setting where we assess a client, their needs, and set up a treatment plan. It could be an autistic child who needs to learn vocalization, eye contact, or tying shoes. The question is: How do you use music as a means to reach a goal?
How do you see God in music?
That’s where my passion comes from. I’m just grateful that I have the ability to play on a level where I can be a vehicle. There is nothing more gratifying than someone com- ing to me in tears and saying that they were touched. And that’s the moment. Playing music is how I say, “Thank you, Lord, for what I have.”
Do your young adult children play music?
I wish! They started out, but then sports took over.
Is there a piece of music that you don’t like?
Yes! I’ve played it so much that I’m sick of it, and unfortunately my students know what this piece is. I’ve been teased with gifts of CDs devoted entirely to this piece of music; an original arrangement played by a brass ensemble just before they graduated (do you realize how loud brass can be?), and most recently, a surprise a capella vocal performance by three music majors as I began teaching music theory at 8 a.m.! My feelings for this piece of music are in direct contrast to how I feel about our SPU music majors. I love them!
Let more SPU students tell you about their worlds. Look in the My World gallery.