Talent isn't evenly distributed in families.
I've got a twin brother who's less like me than as if he were someone from another family. He's got a Masters degree and is working on his Doctorate in Education. I'm a high school dropout.
And I've got a brother who's a conductor. Of an orchestra.
I'm not musical by any stretch. I can keep a beat, perhaps, like any air-player drumming on his jeans if a song is contagious. Really, though, I'm not the tiniest bit of a musician. But my brother Nate plays one in real life.
And yet we have something in common, Nate and I, besides our parents: we both fearlessly share information with the world.
In my case it's through the written word, and the promotion of authors, and the building of online platforms that authors and entrepreneurs can use to help become known to a wider audience.
In Nate's case, his gift is music, of course. But with a difference -- his focus is on orchestras, and in bringing orchestral music to the masses, in trying to break down the wall between so-called high culture and pop culture.
I'm talking about my brother not simply because we're related, but because he does something that means a great deal to me: He uses the power of the Internet, and social media, to bring orchestral music to people who might not otherwise encounter it, or who might ignore it or who might think it's simply not for them.
Nathaniel Drew, who's a few years younger than I, is the principal conductor and artistic director of Salt Lake Pops Orchestra. A pops orchestra is one that specializes in new arrangements of popular songs, and in programming music that is accessible. (Heavy-hitting philharmonic orchestras indulge in lighter programming, too, but for a pops orchestra, this kind of stuff is bread-and-butter -- think, at Christmas, of the song "Sleigh Ride" that you hear everywhere, and you'll get a sense of the approach of a pops orchestra: light, catchy, amusing.)
Now, what Nate's doing that really tickles me is that he gives away his and his orchestra's arrangements of the songs they perform. Orchestrations are time-consuming, involving the scoring for dozens of individual instruments. And they're expensive to put together. But Nate believes that information of this sort should be free. This is a brave thing to do, especially as most classical and even pops orchestras are not exactly rolling in dough. But for Nate, that wasn't the issue: it was music itself. And making it accessible.
He noticed that local high school orchestras are often quite small. Music and arts in general have taken a back seat to sports in many areas, or fallen prey to pernicious budget cuts. Consequently, many young people either don't have a chance to perform the instruments they might be learning, and many others don't have access to live performances of orchestral music of any sort.
So, Nate decided to record and make videos of his orchestra performing new versions of popular music. The latest is "Firework," by Kate Perry, sung by David Osmond and featuring a 13-year-old violinist, Aubree Oliverson.
Now, Katy Perry doesn't need more publicity -- but in a way that's the point. Many young people already know her. But many others might also be introduced to the concept of accessible orchestral performances by listening to another version of "Firework," as done by professional musicians who make orchestral music seem engaging, lively, worthwhile and even hip.
And by allowing other orchestras to download the score, Nate is encouraging high-school ensembles and other groups, to participate in what he calls his Revolution Symphony, that is, in counting on the Glee effect to make performing music together something that's not just for the nerds (as if that's a bad thing) but for the common good. That popular TV series about a school glee club has stirred renewed interest among high school students in singing together, as has been reported before. Nate doesn't have a TV show. But his orchestra has a YouTube channel. And even that small step can begin to make a difference for his work, and his music -- and for how others perform music.
I will never be a musician like my brother. And he may not be a book promoter. But both of us want to change the world for the better, whether it's one note or one word at a time, by encouraging people to work together and to share.
And to enjoy doing it.
Follow Michael Drew on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@PromoteABook