Never before have classical musicians seemed so wonderfully … unstuffy. Yes, the 5 Browns, the Juilliard-trained piano virtuosos with three Billboard No. 1 albums, have a reputation for making classical music cool.
The fresh-faced, slickly dressed twenty-somethings have appeared on “Oprah” and “The Tonight Show” and in the pages of “People,” “Parade” and “Entertainment Weekly,” and sold out concerts in this country and abroad.
But in their new book, “Life Between The Keys: The (Mis)Adventures of The 5 Browns,” the utter ordinariness of these affable siblings from Alpine, Utah, comes oozing through the words on the page.
They’ll sign copies of the book and give two concerts next week in Mesa, Scottsdale and Wickenburg.
“We were on tour, and we just sat in the car or in a hotel talking about all these crazy, funny experiences we’d had throughout the years, coming through Juilliard and on tour and growing up,” says Melody, 24, by phone from a tour stop in Sacramento.
Those memories make up the 229-page book, a collection of short essays and simple illustrations reminiscent of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” titles. Rather than a chronological biography of the Browns’ lives from the time they each started playing piano at age 3, the brothers and sisters take turns telling stories.
Their time at Juilliard — the nation’s most prestigious music academy — looms large in the book.
“It’s a small school of about 800 kids, and everyone works really hard and practices and takes their music studies seriously, but they’re still just kids. We trash-talk the faculty just like college kids everywhere,” says Gregory, 26, whose tales about run-ins with crusty old professors, a wild, freeloading roommate, and his biohazard of a dorm room lend comic relief to the book.
Just as the Browns strive to make classical music a genre ordinary people can relate to, the book aims to make the Browns relatable. The sibs are showcased not as glamorous stars or even particularly great writers (they say their publisher did very little editing to their stories) but as regular kids navigating the twists and turns of young adulthood. They play video games, call each other names, fall in love, pull pranks and make mistakes. Their signature wholesomeness comes through in themes of family and gratitude that underlie most of the anecdotes.
The Browns say the book is just one more way to help people connect with a music genre that’s come off as stodgy and elitist for far too long.
“There’s so much etiquette that turns off the everyday man, who doesn’t know how to act or what to listen for at a concert. We just want to relax the environment a little bit and say, music is music. They don’t have to know a lot about it, and they’re not a nerd or a weirdo for liking classical music,” says Gregory.