When Joanne Brunson arrived at Ramstein with her husband, the late Col. James Ellis Brunson, in 1973, she was not quite sure what she was going to do in Germany. Nearly 40 years later, her impact on the Ramstein community’s budding musicians is evident.
Since 2001, Brunson has taught piano lessons for the 86th Force Support Squadron Ramstein Community Center.
Originally from Printon, Ky., Brunson has been playing the piano since she was 8 years old. She said her mother, who always wanted to play the piano herself, lived vicariously through her.
“She gave me horrible alternatives,” Brunson said. “Like, did I want to do the dishes or practice? I would practice and she would stay in the kitchen a solid hour. I knew if I got up, I would have to wash those greasy skillets they have in the South!”
At just 16 years old, Brunson started playing at her church. Shortly thereafter, she started teaching.
Since then, Brunson has accomplished what many would consider daunting tasks. She has spent three summers in France and one summer in Italy for a master piano class, playing different organs and working with different international instructors.
Brunson is proud to have played a Bösendorfer Factory piano for a show house in Vienna, Austria. The only song she thought to play was Rachmaninoff’s Prelude to C-sharp minor, which she played repeatedly at the crowd’s insistence.
“It was the most exciting thing I have ever done,” she said.
Brunson is clearly passionate about her music and her work. Her advice to up and coming musicians is to make sure you enjoy playing, you practice hard and you never stop learning. Brunson said she still learns something new each week.
Brunson teaches 30-minute lessons to 50 students every week, from 4-year-olds up to adults, at the Ramstein Community Center.
For more information about piano and other music lessons offered by the RCC, call 480-3108 or 06371-47-3108.