Carol Rhodes Brummett

1930 - 1985

Carol Brummett taught music for thirty years in five different schools. A graduate of Adelphian Academy in Holly, Michigan, she returned there to direct the choirs and teach voice for the first eight years of her career, after graduating from Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, in 1953. She subsequently taught at Andrews, Newbury Park, Linda Vista Junior, and Redlands Junior academies. She taught at RJA for thirteen years before her death from cancer ended her career prematurely.

Brummet grew up in a family in which music was a way of life. She was one of six children - Dwight, Joyce, Keith, Carol, Dale, and Beverly Rhodes McDonald - all of whom have been active in music, except Joyce, who died at age two.

Carol started piano lessons at age five with Maude Warren, Adelphian Academy piano teacher. At this time the family discovered she had absolute pitch and was capable of identifying specific notes within extended and complex chords.

Warren used a system of her own devising to teach Carol the musical alphabet. She would write on 4 x 6 cards short right-hand melodies, and a left-hand accompaniment using those letters. While she eventually made the transition from alphabetical music to notation, the family saved some of those cards, treasuring them as a unique instructional approach associated with their sister.

During her childhood, the family would give musical programs, singing as a group and presenting the children doing various solos with Dwight, Carol, and Beverly on piano, Keith on violin, and Dale on clarinet. When she was attending Adelphian Academy and studying piano with Gladys Gilbert, they traveled to Detroit, where Carol took some lessons from Willoughby Boughton at his music school. Boughton, a noted performer who had earlier studied with world famous performer and teacher Joseph Lhevinne in France, was impressed with Carol's talent and encouraged her to think about being a concert pianist.

At age fifteen, she performed a challenging piano recital, with her brother Keith as a guest vocal artist, featuring works by J.S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Rubenstein, Chopin, Tschaikowsky, and Debussy. By the time she enrolled at EMC as a music major, she was an accomplished pianist.

She accompanied the Collegians, EMC's select choir, and served as studio accompanist for its director, Melvin Davis, during her four years at the college. After teaching for a few years, she returned to EMC, following its change in status and name to Andrews University, where she completed an M.A. in music in 1966, summa cum laude.

Throughout her career, Brummett enjoyed a reputation for outstanding work with her voice students and choirs. During her eight years at Newbury Park Academy, she released several highly praised academy choir records. Her choral groups in every school at which she taught were praised for their professional sound and musical finesse. The Redlanaires as well as the Carolaires, a professional group she also conducted in her final years, were highly regarded throughout southern California. After her death, the Carolaires was renamed the Carol Brummett Chorale and her son, Geoffry Brummett, became its conductor.

In 2008 Clarence and Esther Brummet established the Carol Rhodes-Brummett Endowed Scholarship Fund at Andrews University. Its purpose is to benefit worthy music students who are in need of funds for music lessons.


Sources: Obituary, Andrews University alumni magazine, Focus, summer 1985 and 2008 annual report (named scholarship), Fall 2008; two emails from her brother, C. Dwight Rhodes, 23 May 2007; Bud Racine, "In Memorium," Adelphian Academy Class of 1957 40th Anniversary Yearbook, Scrapbook & Student Roster (an online publication), 1997, reprinted below; personal knowledge..


Carol Rhodes Brummett

A tribute by Bud Racine


When Carol was a small child, my dad once held her feet in his large hands to warm them. She loved reminiscing with her friends and would ask him if he remembered that incident. Before television, families gathered to entertain themselves on Saturday nights. It was at one of those parties that she had told him her feet were cold.

My first recollection of Carol was at an [Emmanuel Missionary College] Collegian concert in Pontiac. She wore a dark full-length formal gown and her auburn red hair hung to her shoulders. The director proudly introduced her as his accompanist, saying she was an accomplished pianist, had perfect pitch, and that she was from Holly [Michigan]. She seldom took her eyes off him as she played.

She became Miss Rhodes to us at Adelphian and gave some of us humorous nicknames. She said babies know how to breathe naturally, that it takes breath control to effectively sustain a note, and that we could learn something from them. She would show her students how to drop their jaw and relax for preferable tone quality.

Milton Draper came to her music studio to see a friend. He walked about tapping pipes and other objects with a spoon, asking what pitch she heard. Her responses were confirmed on the piano. Yes, God had given Miss Rhodes perfect pitch.

She was a master conductor. She would credit Melvin Davis, saying, "What I know about conducting, I learned from him." Master conductors are gifted. They know what they want. Equally important, they know how to communicate what they want, and they don't settle for mediocrity. She believed that music had to be memorized to be performed well and that the primary purpose of her musical ministry was to bring honor and praise to her Creator and Savior.

She spent hours working with individuals and smaller groups. She scheduled appointments for them to perform at various functions and churches. She was goal oriented, highly energized and motivated; not unlike one who recognizes life is short and that what one does must be done well and quickly.

Although Michigan, for many reasons, was special to her, she became well known in California, and gave of herself unreservedly. Her last assignment was at Redlands Junior Academy. Now, while junior academy choirs are not typically renowned, her Redlanaires was uniquely superb!

In 1979, Carol realized that several of her former students from Adelphian had migrated to California. She organized them into a choir and called them the Carolaires. At her demise, the choir continued and, in her honor, changed its name to the Carol Brummett Chorale. Her son, Geoffrey Brummett, is its director today.

In the fall of 1983, Carol was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis was not good. At the appropriate time, the family rented a hospital bed and made room for it in their living room. They were determined that she would pass to her rest in the quietness of her home and in the bosom of her family.

However, this did not happen before hundreds of her friends and former students and choir members came by to be with her again. They sang favorite songs and thanked her for the wonderful and enriching times she had given them. She encouraged them to be faithful and quietly spoke of the fellowship to be enjoyed in the earth made new.

Family and close friends attended her funeral service. Afterwards, they gathered around her casket and for more than an hour reminisced and sang hymns, before leaving. The next day, a memorial service was held for her in the Loma Linda University Church. The sanctuary was packed.

How fitting that this Adelphian Academy Class of '57, 40th Anniversary Year Book be dedicated to the memory of our class sponsor, Carol Rhodes Brummett, student, teacher, alumnus of Adelphian Academy, Christian musician, teacher, leader, and faithful friend, and loving wife and mother.

Her significant and professional contribution to the church's music education program is indeed noteworthy and commendable. Her personal commitment and dedication to its youth will not soon be forgotten.