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The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

The Student News Site of Menlo School

The Coat of Arms

“I love teaching, and I love music”: Peter Brown Shares His New Album With the Menlo Community

Brown performs his new album on the Spieker stage on Sept. 23, 2023. Staff photo: Amber More

Upon entering Peter Brown’s office, you’ll notice maps and souvenirs from trips abroad on the walls–reminders of his love for his work as a history teacher and Global Programs Director. However, if you glance towards the corner, you may notice a guitar sitting in an A-frame stand. Ask Brown about his guitar, and you’ll learn he has a meaningful hobby outside of school. Brown is a songwriter who recently released an album compiling the songs he has created over the past two decades.

Brown began writing songs as a teenager, combining his interests in writing and music. “It just seemed natural that you’d put those two together. And to me, it always seemed like a magical thing to write a song,” Brown said.

He began his songwriting journey in high school, and, since then, songwriting has proven to be an integral part of Brown’s life. “There is something very powerful and compelling about compressing an emotion, a story, a groove or a feeling into a three minute form,” he said.

Although Brown used to perform regularly at a restaurant and wine bar in the East Bay, he was intrigued by the opportunity to share his music with a wider audience. “It feels like, if you have songs, you like them, and you feel other people might benefit from them or enjoy them, why not?” Brown said.

His newest album Rise, a compilation of his favorite songs from the past 24 years, was released on September 1, 2023. Brown appreciated hearing positive feedback from listeners across the world, from the Bay Area to Europe and Asia. However, Brown was initially hesitant to share his music with the Menlo community specifically. “I just felt like it was not related to the work I was doing here,” he said.

Brown was encouraged by the support of his family and friends, and fellow community members. When Andy Hayes, the technical director for the Menlo Drama Program, offered Brown the opportunity to perform his album in the Spieker Center, Brown couldn’t say no. “I just feel like this is part of me, you know, and why not?” he said.

Brown considers his performance in the Spieker Center a success. Specifically, he expressed gratitude for his students that attended the album release. “It was so moving to see my students out there. I value that a lot,” he said. “It was beautiful.”

In addition to sharing his music with the Menlo community he loves, Brown saw the performance as an opportunity to give back. Brown and his wife, who played a major role in planning the event, accepted donations for the Grandparents Climate Fund, a local organization focused on supporting climate restoration programs, and raised $900 for the foundation. 

“I don’t need to make money with music. And I think given that situation, I would love to use the music as a way to raise money for causes that I believe in,” he said. “It feels so good to raise money and give it away.”

Brown doesn’t plan to stop creating music anytime soon. “I love to sing. I love to play music. I love to play music together. I love to play music for people. I mean, there’s all aspects of it. It’s an expression. It’s a way of communicating, and I find it deeply gratifying.”

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About the Contributor
Sonia Dholakia
Sonia Dholakia, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 3

Favorite aspect of journalism: Working with the entire staff to create a great product and becoming friends along the way.

Interests outside of school: Mock trial, traveling, and listening to Taylor Swift.

Class of 2025

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