The Browns: 20 Years of Faithfulness
Congratulations to the Browns as they celebrate their twentieth year as Maranatha music faculty members. The Brown’s vibrant ministry as music educators and church musicians has inspired many of their students to follow suit.
Mrs. Brown grew up in Pumpkintown, South Carolina. Around the age of seven, she started piano lessons so that she could minister in her church and emulate her older sisters. Despite her love for piano, she began college as a speech education major. However, after receiving encouragement from her professors to study music, she changed her major to music education. As a music major, she accompanied for fifteen to twenty hours a week. Little did she know that while accompanying students, she would meet a very “special someone.”
Growing up near Philadelphia, Dr. Brown enjoyed a variety of music opportunities throughout his childhood. His high school trombone teacher strongly encouraged him to major in music. Heeding this advice, Dr. Brown majored in trombone performance. During his senior year, he needed an accomplished accompanist for his senior recital. Eventually, he found Ruth Lehman (Mrs. Brown), who had just begun her graduate studies in piano performance. While practicing together, they started forming a special bond, and well, the rest is history.
After completing their master’s degrees in performance, the Browns married and moved to Kansas City, Missouri where they taught for fifteen years at a Christian school and anchored the music ministry at their church. Desiring further education, Dr. Brown attended the University of Missouri in Kansas City and earned his D.M.A. in choral conducting by completing summer work and a few credits each semester in addition to his normal job. At UMKC he studied with world-renowned conductor Dr. Eph Ehly.
One of their greatest gifts from God are their two children, Audrey and Will, and their spouses, along with the precious addition of a granddaughter last year.
At the Christian school in Kansas City, Maranatha’s Symphonic Band played a concert for chapel and made a positive impression on the Browns. Afterwards, the Browns interacted with the band and thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them. Anticipating Dr. Budahl’s retirement, Dr. Townsend talked with the music faculty about considering Dr. Brown as a possible successor. The band’s positive experience with the Browns along with the Brown’s reputation for excellence in both music teaching and ministry solidified Maranatha’s plan to recruit them. Accepting Maranatha’s invite, the Browns quickly became an integral part of the music department.
Currently, the Browns teach numerous classes. Mrs. Brown teaches Music Theory Fundamentals, Aural Skills Foundations, Aural Skills Advanced, Hymnplaying 3, and Accompanying. In addition, she gives private piano lessons to music majors and minors. As for Dr. Brown, he teaches Music Appreciation, Harmony 1 and 2, Elementary and Advanced Conducting, and Instrumental Arranging. He also gives low brass lessons and conducts the Madrigal Choir and Symphonic Band.
Mrs. Brown’s kind and encouraging words impact many students. Student Susanna Berrey writes, “Mrs. Brown works so hard to create positive feedback for me in each of my lessons. Even when I haven’t had a good week in terms of practice, she encourages me kindly. I always leave a lesson wanting to work harder on my pieces. I’m thankful for the time she puts into each of her students!”
“Mrs. Brown has been such an encouragement to me spiritually and musically,” adds student Emma Bateman. “She is so genuine and sweet with every interaction, and she always asks how others and I are doing. At the start of each lesson, she asks how she can pray for me. In the classroom, she is patient with us as we are learning new concepts. Mrs. Brown has encouraged me in my walk with the Lord to stay humble and to seek God for all things. Not to put myself first, but to put others before myself in all I do and give the glory back to God.”
In a similar fashion, Dr. Brown – or “Chief” as band and choir members affectionately call him – also positively influences students through his many interactions with them in music classes, private lessons, and choir tours. Student Joel Montgomery explains, “Dr. Brown has pushed me to be the best musician that I can be while maintaining an emphasis on the Christ of ministry. He has challenged me to constantly think about not only how I can improve in an area, but also how I can use that skill for the Lord. I’m very grateful for his love and mentorship.”
“I appreciate how genuine and joyful Chief always is,” adds student Bethany Yenger. “He makes sure his students know how much he cares about them. Being under his direction in choir has taught me so much about what it looks like to be a servant leader. Chief never complains and sacrifices so much to go on tours with us. I am so thankful for him!”
Along with students, faculty members also appreciate the Brown’s heartfelt service. Associate Professor Janet Tschida writes, “no matter how busy Ruth is, she prioritizes caring for her students and colleagues in such meaningful ways. She has an ability to make each student feel special and motivates them by celebrating their successes, whether small or great. Ruth’s impassioned dedication coupled with her talented expertise makes her such an effective teacher, and we thank her for her 20 years of heartfelt ministry.”
The Browns touch the lives of so many people, and we are grateful for their consistent desire to honor God and impact others “to the praise of HIS glory!”