Helsel earned his Ph.D. in music education from Kent State University, which featured an additional emphasis on choral conducting and curriculum design. His research interests include music ensemble travel and music literacy. His case study on ensemble tourism was published in the journal Excellence in Performing Arts Research, and he has been published multiple times in the PMEA Journal. He also has a master’s degree in piano performance from Duquesne University and bachelor’s degrees in music education and piano performance from Westminster College. He studied piano under David Allen Wehr and Nancy Zipay DeSalvo. Conducting teachers have included Scott MacPherson, Jerry Blackstone, James Jordan, and Paul Rardin.
Bryan has composed several choral works and has released albums of his own contemporary music. He has appeared on public radio as a pianist. He has been the conductor for the community choir of Butler County, and he is in demand as an accompanist and guest conductor at county and district festivals, most recently in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. He has presented research and rehearsal strategies at state conferences in Pennsylvania and Ohio. He has appeared as a guest artist in concertos with regional symphonies and bands playing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Concerto in F,” “I Got Rhythm” variations, and Saint-Seans’ “Carnival of the Animals.” As a pianist and singer, he has shared the stage with the likes of Shirley Jones and Garrison Keillor. Aside from performing and conducting, he owns and operates Helsel Music, a full production recording studio. He resides near Saxonburg with his wife Heather and children, Colin and Elyse.