Karl T. Bruhn

Karl T. Bruhn, Father of Music Making and Wellness and the founder/first Board Chairman of the Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute, passed away on October 5 in Anaheim after a brief illness.


"Karl Bruhn was a rare gift to the music products industry—a humble man who earned a stellar reputation as an advocate for arts education and the benefits of life-long music making," said Joe Lamond, President and CEO of NAMM, the International Music Products Association. "His achievements have been felt by every NAMM Member and his legacy will have a positive impact on the industry for years to come."

"Karl was one of the clearest thinkers I have ever known, and he challenged those around him to do so as well. One of the ways he did this was to begin with a provocative saying, and these came to be known as 'Bruhnisms,'" said Terry Lewis, close personal friend of Mr. Bruhn and former Executive Vice President of Yamaha Corporation of America. "There were many. At Yamaha, the employee favorite became 'Your salary becomes effective when you do.'" But dealers might best remember, 'There are two kinds of music dealers: Yamaha dealers and those who would like to be.' He was a true mentor to me, and to so many in our industry. He will be greatly missed."

Active in both the retail and wholesale sides of the industry, Mr. Bruhn served as Senior Vice President, Marketing, Yamaha Corporation of America, a position from which he retired in 1989. Later that year he was invited to become the first Director of Market Development for the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).

During his tenure with NAMM he led the music community—educators, manufacturers, technicians and performers to present the work of the National Coalition for Music Education to the attention of decision-makers on the national, state and local levels.

An acknowledged statesman of the music products industry, Mr. Bruhn served as both the Executive Director and President of the American Music Conference, President of the National Piano Foundation, President of Piano Manufacturers Association International and Presidential Advisor to the American Music Therapy Association. Most recently, he has served as Chairman of the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute.

An accomplished musician, in his earlier years he played professionally and led his own orchestra. For his outstanding accomplishments to advance the field of music education, he was awarded the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Music, by the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Having served as a trustee for the NAMM Foundation Research Division and on the board of directors of Remo, Inc., Mr. Bruhn continued to create synergies within and outside of the music products industry.

As an outstanding international speaker, Karl presented his cutting-edge perspectives at several leading conferences worldwide. His focus on "doing well by doing good" shines as a guiding light for music products manufacturers and retailers throughout the world.

In collaboration with Barry Bittman, MD, a renowned neurologist and researcher in the field of mind-body medicine, Mr. Bruhn collaborated in a series of comprehensive research projects focused on developing and scientifically testing the bio-psycho-social aspects of Recreational Music-making. Their protocol, the "Clavinova Connection," an innovative program designed to foster wellness through active music making in individuals who do not consider themselves musical, was introduced to music dealers throughout the US by Yamaha Corporation of America.

Additionally, Mr. Bruhn co-authored the HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming facilitator-training program with Dr. Bittman and Christine Stevens, MSW, MT-BC for Remo, Inc.

A landmark scientific research investigation conducted by Dr. Bittman and Mr. Bruhn (published November 2003) demonstrated for the very first time, statistically significant reductions in burnout and mood disturbances as well as phenomenal cost savings in stressed long-term healthcare workers utilizing a Recreational Music-making paradigm.

With a keen focus on improving quality of life and health restoration, Mr. Bruhn and Dr. Bittman engaged in a fascinating series of innovative scientific research studies exploring the development of exciting music-making technologies. In addition, they studied the reversal of stress-mediated immune responses utilizing an innovative Yamaha Recreational Music-making protocol in collaboration with one of the world's foremost genomic laboratories that has pioneered advanced state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques.

Mr. Bruhn is survived by his daughter, Sandy Singleton of Ashland, Oregon; son, Craig of Anaheim, California and several grandchildren.

An Oral History done by Mr. Bruhn can be watched on the NAMM website at 

In keeping with Karl Bruhn's wishes, a contribution can be made to any of the following organizations in lieu of flowers:

Alpha 1 Foundation
Research for a Cure for Alpha 1 Anti trypsin Deficiency

Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute
18201 Conneaut Lake Road
Meadville, PA 16335