What do The Playboy Club, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and Mel Lewis all have in common? Matt Brown. Matt is a Colorado State University Senior double majoring in orchestral performance and jazz studies. He is a percussionist, playing the drums and mallet instruments, taking a special interest in jazz drumming.
When you find something in your life that lights a fire in you, it becomes more than just a hobby or something you occasionally find time to do, it consumes you, you become fixated on every aspect of it. That is exactly what Matt has found. Using the verb “consume” to describe Matt’s interests might very well be an understatement. He has been playing the drums for 12 years and when he originally decided to go to college, he had his mind set on being an architect, which then changed to being a fire fighter, and finally came to the conclusion that playing the drums was his passion. When asked how many hours he spends practicing a week, he answered, “38 hours.” To my astonishment, I did hear him correctly. Matt laughed and responded, “Yeah it is definitely a full time job.”
The devoted life of a drummer may not seem comprehendible to many - the grueling hours of practice, the dedication, not to mention it is said to be one of the hardest instruments to play – but Matt finds that every minute he spends is well worth the effort. “The social aspect is probably my favorite part, we all [drummers] have the same passion, it’s a sense of connection,” Matt answered when asked what is the best part of playing. Not only does Matt spend 38 hours a week practicing, plus school work, a social life, and fitting in eating and sleeping, he also plays the piano and guitar. Just when you thought it was impossible to manage all of that, Matt also teaches lessons. He has been teaching private lessons for three years, ranging from beginning to advanced, and teaches five students a week either in their own homes or at the CSU studio if equipment is needed. With the limited amount of free time Matt has there is one thing that seems to remain unlimited in his life, the lasting impression he leaves with everyone he meets. Dr. Eric Hollenbeck, the Coordinator of Percussion at CSU and one of Matt’s professors said, “Matt has a unique musical voice and is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet!”
Matt Brown is a third generation drummer in the Brown family. The Thornton, Colo. native grew up surrounded by music. His mother sings and graduated in musical theatre from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo.; she is now a vocal performer. Matt’s grandfather, a first generation drummer who was one of the more scandalous drummers of the family, played many shows at the Playboy Club in Denver. Matt’s father continued to keep drums a strong aspect in the family.
Besides the fact that Matt’s grandfather and father got him hooked on the drums, it is no doubt that he looks up to some of the most iconic drummers as well. Mel Lewis and Max Roach are some of Matt’s role models, and will forever remain some of the best musicians of all time. If he could perform with anyone, anywhere in the world, staying true to his Colo. roots, it would be at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with the band Tower of Power. Matt’s plan after he graduates this May is to audition for the Blue Man Group in either Los Angeles or New York. The audition process is a little different than just sending in your resume and cover letter, it consists of sending in your resume, with your weight, height, and a headshot to make sure you fit the part of both performing and acting. He is also going to apply for positions on cruise ships, because what could be a better job than traveling around the world, getting paid for it, and being able to do what you love.
Ten days from now, Matt might very well be finishing up a five-hour practice session or playing for a local radio station, but looking a bit more into the future, like ten years from now, he hopes to be performing for a symphony and still teach lessons like he does today. Looking into the future for many people tends to cause uneasiness; to Matt it is just the opposite. “I am often most inspired when I think about my future. Since I was young I've always wanted to not just be a musician, but be a successful musician. Be able to get up every day and enjoy my occupation. Music is an art; it is a form of expression. When I am playing, I have a voice. I see music as a language. Having the opportunity to express myself through music inspires me. It makes me think about all the things that are required in order to be a successful musician.”