Helaine Brown

This page gives us an opportunity to introduce one of our members “up close and personal”. Our featured player this month is Helaine Brown, flute.

hbHelaine is originally from Valley Stream, Long Island. She moved to the Philadelphia area in 1976 with her husband, Don, after graduating from Penn State with a degree in Elementary Education.

Helaine began playing the flute in 4th grade and continued playing throughout high school and college. She learned to play the piccolo in 7th grade. Her elementary school and junior-senior high school had a very strong instrumental and choral music program.

“The teachers encouraged us to play or sing in many organizations and music festivals. Consequently, I played in orchestra, concert band, marching band and sang in the chorus, but my favorite was always band.

“In New York State, we participated in NYSSMA festivals by playing solos, duets, trios, quartets, etc. and we received a letter grade for our performances, along with helpful critiques from the judges. We also participated in marching band festivals. My jr-sr high school band director, Jack Emig, was my greatest inspiration. I will never forget the excitement of my first football game and marching band performance.

“I was truly a band geek. I was so hooked on marching band that I sought out a college with a good marching band. When I entered Penn State in 1973, it was the first year they admitted women to the marching band. Unfortunately, when I got to Penn State, I elected to only play in the concert band, foregoing the tremendous time commitment needed for Blue Band and subsequent bowl games… can’t believe what I missed! But touring with the PSU Concert Blue Band was almost as much fun as a bowl game, I guess.

“I grew up in musical family, where all children and my parents played instruments. My family also attended many Broadway musicals, military band concerts and

New York Philharmonic Concerts. Hence, I grew up exposed to many different kinds of music. Being musicians themselves and knowing the value of music study and involvement, my parents encouraged me to study piano, guitar and flute when I was very young. When my children were young, I started their music education with Kindermusik, and that led to both of my boys playing percussion. Aaron continued to play in the Penn State Blue Band. He also plays with the MCCB when he’s available.”

Helaine is a veteran of the MCCB, starting in 1995. She works for Penn State as an Extension 4-H Educator, directing the 4-H program in Delaware County.

“In high school and college I played in a summer community band, similar to MCCB. Believe it or not, we practiced on Monday nights and performed on Tuesday nights. It was called ‘Tuesday Night at the Bandshell.’ One rehearsal for each concert and a different program every week for the most part!

“When I first moved to PA, I played with the Tri-County Band for one year. Then we moved too far away from there, so I played with the North Penn Symphony for several years and with the North Penn Woodwind Quintet, a group formed by some of the NPS members. Today, I also play at my synagogue and in local churches. I have always enjoyed playing music and performing, because it gives me a great sense of pride, and because I love the sound of a concert band. I’m a big Sousa fan, but I love the variety and the challenge of the music we play in the MCCB. It does take a lot of practice time, but I can’t imagine my life without it.

“My other interests and activities include spending time with my family, especially swimming and boating on Lake Wallenpaupack. I also love animals and I love to read and garden in my spare time. I try to follow sports, because the men in my family are sports junkies, and I don’t want to be left out!”