The Orion

Professor eclectic on stage, in classroom

Chelsea Gallegos

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Matt Brown, humanities professor, talks about his music and professional career. Photo credit: Jenelle Kapellas

To say that humanities professor Matt Brown has a unique teaching style would be an understatement.

From his relaxed demeanor to his high-top Chuck Taylors, it’s clear that Brown isn’t a type-A individual. The skateboarding dog videos he shows in class and the fact that he plays in a band only add fuel to the fire when contrasting Brown with what’s expected of a “normal” college professor.

It’s abundantly obvious that Brown is passionate about what he does— in and out of the classroom. So much so that one would never believe that such a chill professor used to get uneasy about teaching and performing at one point in his career.

While Brown is an extremely casual professor, he was also once a very serious student. He even stopped playing music for a long period of time to focus his attention on school. A graduate from Chico State with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he then moved to the east coast to work on his Ph.D. at Brandeis University, a liberal arts-focused school in Massachusetts. In fact, for most of his life music has taken the backseat. He was not playing regularly in a band until he moved back to Chico after finishing up the Ph.D. program.

It isn’t solely his knowledge of literature and art that makes him an exciting professor, but who he is outside of his career and the effect it has on his teaching style. Brown is a musician outside of the classroom, and that energy carries over. Though he considers playing music to be only a social hobby, he has been musical his whole life playing in band as a child and then gradually finding his way around instruments, settling on guitar as his weapon of choice.

Brown doesn’t only play guitar, he also builds them in his free time. There have been times when Brown performed that every instrument used on stage was built by him. He is also a practiced mandolin player and an able pianist. Having the ability to switch between instruments is perhaps the reason Brown is able to draw distinct connections in his classes between different artistic mediums.

Currently, Brown plays guitar in a group with his wife and their close friends called The Eclectics, whose sound, as the name implies, is diverse. The group has played together without a band for more than 10 years, and came together only in the recent past. He also sang with the Keltic Knight’s Singing Man’s Choir and previously played in a folk trio with his wife. Their musicality has had a tremendous effect on their daughter who has also shown a talent for performing from a young age.

Chelsea Gallegos can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Professor eclectic on stage, in classroom