A young player of note

April 19, 1997


Staff Writer

It doesn't matter that her feet barely touch the pedals, 11-year-old Whitney Brooks is proof that age is no barrier to being the organist at Asbury United Methodist Church in Hagerstown.

And as she plays, Whitney may be able to feel the presence of her late grandmother, Delilah Williams, whose own talents were still fresh after her 60-year stint as Asbury's organist.

"I've actually been playing for the early service at the church since I was 8,'' Whitney said. She continues to play for the 8 a.m. service downstairs for the physically challenged.


Since December, she has "graduated'' to playing for the 11 a.m. worship services in the sanctuary while the regular organist is on leave.

"I guess it skipped a generation with me,'' said Carolyn Brooks, mother of Whitney and daughter of Delilah. "Whitney showed aptitude for music at an early age.''

Delilah Williams began playing at Asbury in the 1920s and continued until 1988. She died in 1992.

Whitney's piano lessons began 4 1/2 years ago under the expert tutelage of Joan Fell. As far as the organ is concerned, Whitney said she basically taught herself to play.

"I learned to read music when I was 7 years old,'' Whitney said. She believes learning early is the key because things are always easier when you're young.

"Sometimes I'm nervous,'' Whitney said about playing at the 11 a.m. service. "I worry that I'm playing too fast.''

She played for her first wedding on April 5 and while it went very well, Whitney and her mom agreed she did play a little too fast on that occasion.

At Easter, Whitney played a special program of seasonal music which is part of her work as organist. And each week, she picks the hymns.

Sometimes she even takes her musical talents on the road.

"I had a selection that I played for Ladies Night at Ebenezer AME Church,'' Whitney said.

Pastor Anthony Carr said he is pleased with Whitney's playing and her maturity.

"In fact, I wish we had a dozen more like her,'' Carr said, meaning young people who want to serve their church.

Apparently Whitney's commitment extends beyond her musical talents in her good works within and without the church.

The daughter of Frank and Carolyn Brooks, Whitney is a student at Northern Middle School.

"I'm thinking of a career in music,'' Whitney said, noting that she also plays the violin.

But at the same time, the world of high finance also beckons the young lady.

Maybe, just maybe, she will be able to hit a common chord and combine the two vocations. That is when she is all grown up.

The Herald-Mail Articles