Latter-day Saint Life

​From stuttering to beatboxing: Meet BYU Vocal Point’s percussion

Alex Brown has managed a stutter and Tourette’s his whole life. Through prayer and practice, he has been able to channel his challenges into a unique and unlikely skill: beatboxing.

From the moment he learned to make his first beatboxing sound watching a YouTube video at age 14, Brown was hooked—and he was really good right off the bat. He now uses this incredible skill as a member of BYU’s premier male a cappella group, Vocal Point.

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“In about three weeks, I [went] from being the weird kid who makes sounds to the cool kid who makes sounds,” he says.

Today Brown can imitate everything from drums to a zipper to video game pings and beeps.

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YouTube screenshot

“My whole life, the stutter and the Tourette’s were two of my biggest weaknesses,” Brown told Y Magazine. “Rather than take away that trial, the Lord helped me channel that into beatboxing. [It’s now] a key part of my identity and one of the main ways that I’ve found to help others.”

Incredibly, Jaren McMillan, a fellow Vocal Point member, also sings through a stutter.

“We call ourselves the stutter brothers sometimes,” Brown told Y Magazine. “We joke about it because we’re people who can barely talk, and yet we’re in one of the most prestigious singing groups at BYU.”

Fun Fact

Fans of the popular children’s show Signing Time might also recognize Alex from his time on the program. His mother, Emilie de Azevedo Brown, and aunt Rachel Coleman were the show’s producers, and as a child Alex often starred in episodes with his cousin Leah, who is deaf. Signing Time was created to teach American Sign Language to babies and young children, combining clever songs, animation, and real signing babies to make sign language and communication easy and fun.

You can read the full story of Alex and Jaren’s involvement with Vocal Point in Y Magazine here.

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