“Finding the true natural voice is the key to healthy singing; the rest is a question of style.” – Oren Brown
Oren Brown (April 13, 1909 – March 6, 2004) was a world renowned American voice pedagogue and voice teacher. He was born in Somerville, Massachusetts and earned a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance and a master’s degree in music composition from Boston University. Brown began teaching voice in 1932, and during World War II he worked as a musical advisor on the staff of the United Service Organization while a member of the U.S. army serving overseas. He also taught at Mannes College in the 1940s.
From 1952 – 1968, Brown lectured in voice therapy and otolaryngology at Washington University School of Medicine. At this school, he collaborated with medical personnel to develop an interdisciplinary approach to voice training. Brown was one of the first vocal pedagogues to integrate modern scientific information into the study of vocal pedagogy, along with his contemporaries William Vennard and Ralph Appelman.
Brown was on the faculty of Julliard school from 1972 – 1991 and authored “Discover Your Voice: How to Develop Healthy Voice Habits,” which was released in 1996. He was known to some in the field as “The Miracle Worker” and others as “The King of Voix Mixte” (a term describing the ideal of voice production by the French school of singing during the 19th century). Brown had an astounding track record of healing voices. His students included Paul Helming, John Aler, Cecilia, Buddy Greco, Eva Johansson, James King, and Bo Skovhus.
In May 2002, Brown received an Honorary Doctorate in music from Utah State University and in 2000 he was awarded The Voice Research Awareness Award of Achievement by the American Voice Care Foundation. Brown died in Northampton, Massachusetts at the age of 94.
Quotes about Oren Brown
Dr. Robert T. Sataloff: “He was one of the first singing teachers to work regularly in a medical setting, collaborating with an otolaryngologist long before interdisciplinary approaches to voice training teams were popular… He recognized the value of enhancing traditional approaches to voice training, utilizing scientific concepts and methodology… The foundations he laid have been invaluable not only in facilitating the evolution of voice into an interdisciplinary medical subspecialty, but also allowing voice pedagogy to evolve into a more sophisticated and scientific discipline.”
Oren Brown Quotes:
On the difference between classical and other types of singing:
“Finding the true natural voice is the key to healthy singing; the rest is a question of style.”
On learning and practice:
“Many get into problems by mimicking other singers or the sounds they hear…. 95% who start singing cut their career short due to overuse. A singer should not sing more than one hour a day and that hour should be broken into 15-minute periods.”
Claudel Callender (November 2, 2004). “The Vocal Legacy of Owen Brown”. La Scena Musicale Vol. 10, No. 3.
Sataloff, Robert Thayor. “In memoriam: Oren Lathrop Brown, 1909-2004.” Journal of Voice, vol. 18, no. 4, Dec. 2004, p. 431. Gale Academic OneFile, link.gale.com/apps/doc/A126852906/AONE?u=anon~6c20852a&sid=googleScholar&xid=89d1555a. Accessed 16 Jan. 2023.
Dorothy Runk Mennen (2005) Oren Brown, Voice and Speech Review, 4:1, 11-12, DOI: 10.1080/23268263.2005.10739436