“Hickory Strings latest release “Duo” is a unique and fantastic instrumental duo recording featuring original compositions by Geoff Brown (mandolin) and Mark Whitaker (banjo). Eschewing the flashy pyrotechnics that both players are capable of, they instead focus on textures, dynamic interplay, emotional range, and deeply musical uses of harmony and counterpoint, as well as that oft-missing component: space! Adventurous without sounding “experimental”, flowing without rambling aimlessly, these well conceived melodies are delivered with the panache and fluidity found in jazz and bluegrass, combined with the classical composer’s sense of balance and form, but yielding something greater than the sum of those stylistic parts. This music is easy to listen to, but light years from “easy listening”, as it balances memorable melodies with the sound of surprise, in a recorded atmosphere that is both warm and inviting. Beautiful stuff!” -John McGann (National Mandolin Champion, Berklee College of Music professor)
“Geoff Brown is a talented and industrious composer, guitarist, and mandolin player with unusually present and fluent musicianship, carefully considered compositions, and expressive improvising abilities.” -John McDonald (composer, Tufts University professor)
“Geoff Brown represents the best of today’s open-minded musicians. He fearlessly walks through genres from funk to jazz to bluegrass, Celtic and beyond, with a unique personal take on each style, and an unerring sense of good taste combined with fluent understanding.” -John McGann (National Mandolin Champion, Berklee College of Music professor)
“The presentation that Hickory Strings gave for the undergraduate and graduate students in Longy School of Music’s String Seminar was a big hit. Geoff and Mark’s engaging stage presence, and their skill in explaining how they create their fresh and appealing music, made for a uniquely enjoyable show.” -Janet Packer (Violinist, String Department Chair, Longy School of Music)
“Geoff Brown is an inspired artist with a unique, expressive and intelligent vision. He stands out among a new generation of talented instrumentalist/composers combining complex compositional structures with improvisation.” -David Patterson (Guitarist, Faculty Longy School of Music, Tufts University, Gordon College)
Teaching Reviews (Student Testimonials)
“I took up guitar as an adult and am delighted with the progress I’ve made studying with Geoff. One of the things that makes Geoff’s lessons so satisfying is his ability to teach across multiple musical styles. In a typical lesson we’ll work on a classical piece then switch to Django-style Jazz. This keeps the lessons challenging and exciting and increases my confidence to go outside of my comfort zone.” -David B. (48 years old)
“Geoff is an amazing instructor—he is patient, motivating and helpful. He brings you the exciting world of music through lessons that I look forward to every week. My friends and family are astonished by my knowledge of notes, rhythms, strums and chords I have learned in the past two years.” -Eva G. (13 years old)
“My classes with Geoff are always a lot of fun. He makes me laugh, he is very patient and he has taught me so many great songs and chords. I hope I can play like him one day.” -Adrian G. (8 years old)
“Geoff Brown is a dynamic teacher who can help players of all levels. He has revitalized my approach to playing with a focus on building strong fundamentals, and has helped me understand how to best make use of my practice and jamming time. Most importantly, Geoff has kept me motivated and made our time together exciting and rewarding.” -O. Richardson (22 years old, Tufts University Student)
“I think Geoff is nice. He is a good listener. He is always happy when we get to go to a new page and learn new stuff. He is always happy at how good I did it. I like to play the guitar alot. Whenever I walk by it I feel like I want to pick it up.” -M. Saghir (6 years old)
“Having decided to spend a semester in Ireland, I wanted to pick up a new instrument to take with me. After one semester of mandolin lessons with Geoff, I’d not only learned the basics of the traditional style, but how to continue teaching myself once abroad. So far, joining sessions here in Cork hasn’t been too scary. Thanks Geoff!” -L. McLaughlin (20 years old, Tufts University Student)
“I’ve taken music lessons at various times throughout my life, but I’m new to mandolin, and am fortunate to have Geoff as my teacher. Geoff takes his students and their goals seriously, and his approachable, engaging style has made learning mandolin rewarding and enjoyable. I’m gaining the fundamentals and an appreciation for what a versatile instrument the mandolin is. Geoff’s own excitement about mandolin is infectious and makes me want to always be improving. But most of all, I’m having fun playing music!” - Allison W. (50 years old)
“I really enjoy my guitar lessons with Geoff and am extremely satisfied with the progress I’ve made. I started as a pure beginner and Geoff helped me create a strong foundation to build on. He doesn’t just tell you how to do things, but, explains the techniques and concepts so that I could retain what I was learning and build on it. Geoff has a really positive energy that keeps learning music fun while pushing you to get better and expand your musical experiences. I highly recommend him as a teacher.” -Brett K. (Harvard undergrad and Harvard law student, 24 years old)
“I was very lucky that I had Geoff as my first guitar teacher; his versatility as a guitar player and willingness to alter our lessons according to my musical interests significantly increased how much fun I had as a student. His talent—as a teacher and as a musician—along with his enthusiasm definitely helped me learn more than I have with any previous instructors.” -Whan L. (Harvard undergrad, 18 years old)
“My favorite aspect of studying mandolin with Geoff is his balanced approach to teaching music; we work on a little bit of everything (theory, composition, reading, solo and group performance) and play across different genres. Geoff is an encouraging, creative, and versatile teacher, and his enthusiasm for music is contagious.” -Haze H. (34 years old)
“Geoff is an amazing teacher- I’m a self taught mandolin player of six years so as you can imagine, I had a lot of bad habits to break. Geoff deftly balanced helping me form new habits in tandem with helping me expand my repertoire. He is tremendously encouraging and patient. I really like that you can tell how hard he works outside of the lessons to make sure he’s teaching the best he can- he always comes in with the material I’m learning perfectly learned and he always has something interesting to say about each piece. I’ve improved far beyond I ever thought was possible with Geoff’s help in only three months. Now I’m excited to see what he’ll have me do next!” -B. Madsen (Tufts Undergraduate Applied Music Student, 20 years old)
Wedding/Event Reviews (Client Testimonials)
“We can’t say enough positive things. To this day we receive compliments about the beautiful and unique music. The ceremony was very intimate and personalized and their music and presence is truly one of the most memorable parts of the wedding. Very responsible and well-prepared, Geoff communicated beforehand about all the details we would not have known to bring up ourselves. The musicians were obviously very experienced and exceeded all of our expectations. We will never forget how special they made our day…” -Ryan and Charline B.
“…The music was extraordinary. Geoff was easy to work with, explained things very clearly, gave us many options to choose from, and even made a special accommodation to accompany the groom while he sang a song to his bride after the cocktail hour. His experience and professionalism was obvious every step of the way and the music was the least of our wedding worries. The sincerity he brought to the music for our wedding was unparalleled…” -Luke and Melissa R.
“Working with Geoff Brown to coordinate music for our special day was a wonderful experience. The live music that Geoff provided was the perfect backdrop to our event and helped to make our wedding truly unique. Geoff is a remarkably gifted musician and his original compositions added a special touch to our event that we will always treasure.” -Talia and Tony Q.
“Geoff’s versatility gave us complete freedom while choosing our music. Before the wedding, his consulting and communication was excellent and the ensemble was extremely well prepared. Both his musicianship and professionalism were remarkable. Able to accommodate all of our requests, he naturally arranged everything from obscure sitar music to a Michael Jackson song for mandolin, accordion, and bass. He was very open-minded, supportive, sensitive, and receptive to our ideas. For such a custom experience and highly skilled musicians, his rates were very affordable. We highly recommend him!” -Mark and Kelley S.
Reviews of Outreach Programs
“A wonderful and imaginative storytelling journey. Patches is a rich and high-culture experience for both children and adults.” -Ellen Thompson (Director of Visitor Education and Programs, Boston Children’s Museum)
“I absolutely enjoyed the performances…a delightful work and very engaging for the audience, both children and adults.” -Myran Parker-Brass (Director of Education and Community Programs, Boston Symphony Orchestra)
“Thank you so much! The students were inspired, and so was I to create more opportunities for them in the classroom to compose. The class had a lot of fun!” -Laura Umbro (Orchestra Director, Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School)