March is Music in Our Schools Month, and Kristin Brown, music teacher at Detroit Enterprise Academy (DEA), is making the most of it by offering free music lessons for guitar and drum kits to students and parents after school, and bringing in special guests including singers, songwriters, and producers.
Mrs. Brown was a singer from an early age. She sang her first solo at age 10 in front of a large audience, and her music career has only flourished from there.
Several teachers throughout her education helped build her passion for music. For example, when Mrs. Brown was in kindergarten, Ms. Cohen had her sing in front of her parents every week, even though she wasn’t a music teacher. In high school, Ms. Valentine inspired her further with her musicality and engagement. Then, she had Dr. Carl Smith as a professor at Kentucky State University, who continued to grow her passion for music.
“I think it’s powerful when a student can remember their teachers’ names and what they did because of their impact,” said Mrs. Brown. “I want to inspire my students in the same way. Not just in music, but in life.”
“Mrs. Kristin Brown is a true gem,” said Emily Gagnon, principal at DEA. “She brings music alive through authentic experiences with instruments and guest musicians. She is an amazing support system for other music teachers in the Detroit cohort, and we are truly lucky to have her on our team.”
Mrs. Brown is also a singer who is featured on iTunes and on the radio with her first single titled, “Abba Father.” Her passion for singing makes it no surprise that her favorite thing to teach in music is voice. However, she teaches much more than that.
She’s been with DEA for 13 years, so she has been able to build the music program and watch it grow over the years. “I believe that every student that walks into a music classroom should learn and experience music in many different ways,” said Mrs. Brown. “In my class, students are encouraged to sing, dance, and play various instruments, including xylophones, recorders, boomwhackers, world instruments like African drumming, and modern band instruments like piano, drum kit, and guitars.”
Her students learn a variety of genres of music, including jazz, swing, and rock’n roll. She also makes it a point to give her students the opportunity to create, evaluate, respond, perform, do projects, and experience special guest presenters.
“I want my students to experience live music,” said Mrs. Brown. “There was nothing like seeing my first graders’ faces light up when I had a professional trumpet player play for them after we talked about Louis Armstrong.”
Mrs. Brown brings in other professionals, too, to show students that there are more careers in the music industry than just being a singer or musician, but also sound engineers, entertainment lawyers, and more.
Additionally, Mrs. Brown is a Little Kids Rock Teacher, which gives her students the opportunity to have access to donated instruments through the Little Kids Rock program. Students learn to play the instruments and play some of today’s hits in performances.
She is a senior content leader with National Heritage Academies, as well as the lead music mentor for the Detroit region.
“I have the pleasure of supporting and mentoring fellow music teachers in my region by facilitating region meetings, doing collaborative observations, and providing helpful tools as needed to help them succeed,” said Mrs. Brown. “It’s a rewarding experience when I have teachers share the feedback I’ve given is worth while and could be used immediately.”
Keep up the incredible work, Mrs. Brown!