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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

Teacher Bandy Brownlee: Inspiring Voices

Carly Camper Kanzler, center, says her childhood dream was to become a marine biologist — until Bandy Brownlee was her teacher. She is now a Music Specialist at Eaton Elementary School in Memphis, Tenn.
Carly Camper Kanzler, center, says her childhood dream was to become a marine biologist — until Bandy Brownlee was her teacher. She is now a Music Specialist at Eaton Elementary School in Memphis, Tenn.


Bandy Brownlee grew up on a Kansas farmstead and graduated from Sterling College. He taught high school band in Kansas public schools for 11 years and has taught at Tennessee High since 1994.

He studied Recording Engineering at the University of Miami in Florida and for nine years owned and operated Classic Recording Studio in Bristol, Va.

Brownlee: I'm happy to report that several Tennessee High School students have gone on to become excellent vocal music teachers.

• Best of all is Hunter Graybeal who is studying for his master's in opera. As a freshman, he literally could not "match pitch." His seat in that general choir class was beside another gentleman who was an excellent singer. By the end of that first term, Hunter "found his voice," gained entrance to our advanced vocal class, and became an amazing first tenor.

Rachel Johnson has been thrilling audiences in our region and around the world with her fiddle work. She stays busy traveling and performing — with The Booher Family, then The Stevens Family, and most recently, The Dixie Bee-Liners — but she still loves to grab her fiddle and bow and join in on a jam session every time she gets a chance. She attended East Tennessee State University and was a member of the ETSU Pride Band, and recently graduated from Northeast State Community College in Blountville, Tenn. She says, "I learned a lot of things from Bandy that I took to college." Besides music theory, what she remembers most is how Brownlee promoted having a positive attitude: "no matter how early we rehearsed (sometimes at 6:30 in the morning), he showed up smiling. He always looked on the bright side of things."

William MacMorran is probably my stand-out for musical and engineering achievement, but is probably best known for playing the Highland bagpipes. Will is now based in Nashville, Tenn. Will says, "Mr. B. is one of the hardest working, most dedicated teachers that I have ever been fortunate enough to learn from. He helped to spark my interest in recording and provided much advice and insight throughout my time at Tennessee High. He provided me with opportunities to gain experience both on the playing as well as the engineering side of things. I'm graduating from Belmont University in May with a Bachelor of Science in Audio Engineering Technology. At Belmont, I've interned for New Millennium Music and 'Big' Studios. In addition, for the past four years, I've toured during the summers and most weekends with the Celtic rock band Seven Nations and plan to pursue that full time when I graduate."

Carly Camper Kanzler is a Music Specialist at Eaton Elementary School in Memphis, Tenn. Previously she taught middle school chorus in Columbus County, N.C. She says, "I was very lucky to get to experience music with Mr. Brownlee in high school. It wasn't until having him as a teacher that I even considered becoming a music teacher. He made music fun and lighthearted which fostered an atmosphere conducive to creating, sharing, and learning. I have often thought back on my experiences in his class and applied them to my own teaching situations, such as music techniques, arrangements, and writing original skits and scripts to accompany musical performances. He is continuing to inspire me and he doesn't even know it! Knowing how Mr. Brownlee gave of his time and efforts continues to motivate me to be the best teacher I can for my students."

Carly continues, "When I graduated from Tennessee High, I attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with all intentions of becoming a marine biologist (my childhood dream). I was also going to minor in music. After one semester of dreading my science classes and loving the chance to continue in music and singing, I changed my minor to a major and never looked back. I graduated from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington in 2004 with a Bachelor's degree in Music Education and a vocal studies concentration. I taught middle school chorus for two years in Columbus County. I also became a level I and II Orff-Schulwerk certified teacher. In 2006, I accepted a job teaching elementary general music and chorus at a year-round school in Wilmington, N.C. While teaching there, I started working on my master's degree in Music Education. In 2008, I graduated from East Carolina University graduate school. I am currently working on becoming a National Board Certified Teacher in Early and Middle Childhood Music."

• In addition, several of Brownlee's students have gone on to study and work in the audio engineering business. They include Chris and Matt Newton, who studied engineering at Middle Tennessee State University and have done quite a bit of recording with their own rigs, and Wes Leonard, who has worked in the audio and video business for some time now.

Editor's Note: Brownlee also inspired his own daughter, Addie Brownlee, who is a singer/songwriter/actor in New York.


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