US Presidential Candidates and Congress: Can You Sing?


Today’s guest post is from Cherie LeBrun, a classically trained musician with an international reputation and political activist who’s greatly concerned for the condition of our country. It has been the lament for centuries that fine artists are under-appreciated by the masses while only the wealthy have the education and means to appreciate and avail themselves to such luxuries.

But there’s more to art than sheer entertainment. It’s what feeds our soul. Cherie’s passion for music has prompted her to speak out, noting ways it could help heal much of what afflicts the world today. Her credentials for presenting such an admonition and appeal are duly impressive and included at the end. I know Cherie as a dear friend who is intelligent, compassionate, insightful, and a devoted animal lover. Her thoughts are somewhat long, but worth listening to.

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US Presidential Candidates and Congress: Can You Sing?

Our American Leaders ignore essential facts about the importance of Fine Music and Fine Arts in our educational system. Let’s get this on our Platforms. It is as important as any goals you have for America.

Why can’t our leaders integrate more funding for fine arts, musical instruments, lessons? Private non-profits can’t handle all of it. What’s wrong with putting Fine Arts as a requirement in our public educational system?

Are American leaders on both sides so blind, including EVERY ONE of the candidates, they have not read all the research in regard to the importance of Music and the Arts? Don’t they know that Music prevents Violence? Won’t Bernie, Donald, Hillary, Jill, Gary, even POTUS & VPOTUS, take a look at the importance of MUSIC & ARTS in our world? These folks have money. Are they too lacking in cultural education? Sometimes I wonder. Who brings it up? Gustavo Dudamel, Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. El Sistema. It works! Look it up! Contact Gustavo! Contact Lang Lang!

As a classically-trained musician, I’m particularly concerned about the LACK of EDUCATION in Fine Arts and Fine Music, the base and heritage of our Western music, especially since programs like El Sistema WORK! We are talking the HIGHEST Olympic-like technique, the understanding of tone and musicality and various methods to extract that tone to a musicality that is far beyond merely counting with a marching band’s metronome.

As an older musician/teacher I can say our nation no longer has enough FINE MUSIC & FINE ARTS. It has been and still is reserved for the highly educated and wealthy. American kids today don’t understand it, why so many of our Classical Artists representing the highest technique reachable are coming from Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia, etc. Even our wealthy youth don’t pursue it. I know older doctors and lawyers who are also highly trained, but that tradition of deep knowledge for music is waning.

An example of how times have changed for the worse for fine music is exemplified by the lack of State and National Music competitions, AND, the lack of Class A students, vs Class B and Class C. In Ohio, I had a student participate in the District Competition. Even if he received a Superior Rating, that was it, he could not go on. In the 60’s, when I received Superior, Class A, I went on to State.

Even our high schools are focused more on Marching Bands than Symphonic Orchestra. I don’t even think we have many or any young high school orchestras in rural Appalachia where I live. Sports takes a priority.

But music educates the right and left brain, and discipline is necessary, including manners.

Over the last few decades, music exists OUTSIDE the family structure, with earphones glued to the ears of our children.

Families don’t sing enough together — or at all.
We need music at home, singing together at home.
We need to FUND lessons with great teachers at schools, which will also teach kids discipline, manners, kindness.
We need to teach our children to bring music home and share it!

Meanwhile, Republicans hate Democrats, visa versa.
So many of us feel that our leaders are not inspirational. They’re not. Monotone. I don’t think they can sing! Where is the inflection? The sincerity of the voice that comes with singing?

How many show us the way to the Fine Arts? We talk about SCIENCE constantly– POTUS especially. Musicians are tired of hearing it. WHY? Because MUSIC IS A SCIENCE!

Students come to private teachers saying, Oh, there’s no money in music, I want to study science or medicine!

Folks, I’m blasting this to the world. MUSIC IS A SCIENCE! And it is the ONLY Science that involves both sides of the brain, left and right, feeling and thinking!

Einstein was a fabulous violinist!

We need an education with REQUIREMENTS to study fine arts! I’m not talking about Marching Band, pounding on an instrument without learning the subtle technique for bringing out melodies and different feelings, dynamics, tone. I’m referring to public education with top teachers, musicians, artists, singers performing for our youth and teaching them as well! Just contact Gustavo Dudamel and ask him.

Soon, teaching private piano or other instruments will fade in many parts of America. The free lessons at schools are not worth much, believe me. And yet, there is SO much TALENT! But Fine Arts need to be REQUIREMENTS. Why? Because the kids today lack discipline! Once they figure out that Discipline and Manners will bring joy of hard work, they will be happy the discipline was there in the end. AND, they need to be inspired by superb teachers who are paid well!

Our young Americans have no idea what listening to fine music means, the architecture of the music. They don’t even realize their pop music is just a simple ABA structure, most of the time.

Think about it. Why do parents often say, mine included, Oh, you can’t make a living at music? For sure, without a Masters or PhD, you may not, unless you are such a top performer or POP artist, you survive in a capitalistic society of arts.

Why? Because our American culture does not give Fine Arts and Fine Music any relevance in our culture! I’m talking about the highest form of art, technique, tone, interpretation.

When was the last time the White House exemplified the fine arts? Maybe Kennedy’s?

Our kids don’t even know some basic HISTORY of ART & HISTORY of MUSIC! Everyone, even their parents, are glued to computer keyboards, earphones… we don’t even HEAR the MUSIC in Nature! The beauty of the Mourning Dove, the rhythm of the Woodpeckers.

Our city and inner-city kids are far removed from the beauty of nature. Our rural kids are far away from attending a major symphony. They can’t even hear the beauty. they hear pop, pop, pop…. helicopters overhead in North Long Beach in the 2000’s, “Stay in your House!” Sirens, more sirens.

Besides music, some of the so-called LEADERS need to talk about integrating, not only music, but more NATURE into the cities as well, with important programs for our youth. El Dorado Park in Long Beach is a good example.

That includes more music in the parks, not just bands, but FINE MUSIC. not just the loud music with pounding high vibrations, harming ear drums, like the hustle bustle, cries of ‘give me, give me’ attitudes, greed and idol worship and loud sirens. But with all the gangs in the parks with their guns (I was once in a middle of a gang shoot having lunch in a small park in Culver City), how can we even bring music to our parks?

Will it ever change and has it ever changed?

Instead, we live in a society that has no respect for the fine arts. Only the rich can afford to become educated to understand it, attend the concerts. Inner City, grade schools, high schools in cities may attend once per year, a token field trip. As a result, serious Musicians with the Highest Technique and Musicality and Tone, are not respected by American youth, not like youth in Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, represented by Lang Lang, who has done so much to bring this appreciation to China.

Our heroes and heroines often become those who are mere sex symbols or people we can’t even trust. But our Music and Poetry & Literature and Arts are honest representations of our souls, our times….even the people we have lost confidence in.

We need to free the lower 50% more than a mere FEW days per year, for trips to Arboretums, grand beauty parks of nature, and to philharmonic orchestras with famous soloists…. including an education about what they are actually hearing! Instead, in big cities, walking down the street with an ‘attack dogs’ can be more popular. I saw it often in North Long Beach,CA.

Violence, violence, violence everywhere, in our music, violence in our movies, automatic weapons, boom, boom, boom, violence in our voices, and violence of guns permeate our culture, instead of MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, more Paint Brushes & Colored Pencils.

And the Media often encourages it, hour by hour, day by day, owned by Wall Street and lobbyists who know that SENSATIONALISM brings more profit! Listen to the political statements after every disaster or mass murder. POTUS did not even mention the names of the officers!

Has anything changed on Planet Earth? Can’t we keep the simple 10 commandments of the Native Americans if we deny Christianity? Are people packed together only to exist in economic despair, impacted by poor Trade Deals and many times, no place to play!

Yes, we have lost touch with our SOULS. We fail to dream. We have lost touch with honesty and trust for our leaders and government. We fail to see the inspiration in simple pleasures. Electronic gadgets and video games rip us apart but ironically bring us together in our war-zone cultures.

But, can we SING? We don’t sing with our family members. We expect our children to be just like us, often forgetting their own individuality and needs. We put the kids by the TV sets instead of taking nature walks, dancing with them on the kitchen floor, singing a song, holding their hands with fun and love like my Baltic mother often did.

But, can we begin our route to music as a way of life, because we can begin to SING! Our voice is the very first musical instrument! Kids don’t even know that in today’s world!

Yes, every single day, we can sing a song, learn to carry a tune again! So many of our children can NOT carry a tune! Folks, it’s not INNATE! You have to practice HOW to CARRY a TUNE if you want to sing! We ALL can sing, unless we have had some surgery preventing our vocal chords from functioning. We can sing sad songs, holy songs, spiritual songs, poetic songs, rap with depth,soul, & love.

We can, like my Godchild in Texas, start groups or participate in groups @Crescendohtown, bring families together with music. We can sing to our children, sing to our teenagers and sing together. We can even learn Solfeggio like Europeans.

So, let’s take our earphones OFF! … as we mourn the violent diurnal murders of today, yesterday, tomorrow, in a world unawakened, blind with fear of telling the truth, blaming everyone else instead of facing one’s own reflection in the mirror, fearing our own transparency, fearing we may lose control…

We can return to songs we knew when we were younger, we can learn songs of different cultures, folk songs, country music songs…so many songs we can sing, why the birds are always singing.

Most importantly, every side of the spectrum can sing together. The Republicans can sing with the Democrats who can sing with the Green Party who can sing with the Independents who can sing with the Libertarians, on and on….

Then, maybe we can all sing together to bring Fine Arts BACK into this country, our culture, our educational system.

As an addendum, below are some superb interviews and facts about El Sistema. This could work in the USA if our Congress had more wisdom and insight!

(Brigitte Engerer)

Singing takes them away from their daily lives…Music changes their souls, their minds
For children, gangs, youth in jail and in trouble with the law –saved by El SISTEMA:


Gustavo Dudamel interview:

How Music Saved Venezuela’s Children:

Imagine 4graders excited to stay after school to study classical music:

For anyone opposed to El Sistema, just listen to Gustavo Dudamel.

Chopin – Complete Nocturnes (Brigitte Engerer)

Serenity and dream… 1. 0:06 Op. 9, No. 1 in B flat minor. Larghetto 2. 5:53 Op. 9, No. 2 in E flat major. Andante 3. 10:29 Op. 9, No. 3 in B major. Allegre…

 This post originally appeared on Cherie’s Facebook page.


Cherie Lebrun graduated from University of Notre Dame/St. Mary’s and the University of Innsbruck, Austria. Upon audition, she was accepted into the Innsbruck Conservatory of Music to study with F.Pinter. Cherie won several scholarships to summer music school at Capital University, received Superior ratings at Ohio State Music competitions, Class A, and also entered State Competition. She was one of three students accepted by Jakob Gimpel at California State University. Gimpel, a concert pianist and personal friend of Arthur Rubinstein, performed annually at the Ambassador Auditorium, as well as Hollywood Bowl with Zubin Mehta.

Cherie studied composition with composer Dr. Beverly Grigsby and Thomas Hulbert, as well as some jazz with Mark Massey.  She was coached by Bruce Sutherland, well-known class-A instructor & composer, who studied with Amparo Iturbi.  Cherie performed for the City of Santa Monica where she created their first fine music/piano course with recitals for youth who could not afford music lessons or instruments.

After a bout with death in her late 30’s, without healthcare insurance, Cherie left her full-time music teaching & performances. She became a Marketing and PR professional for a variety of multi-national and national companies, including non-profits and progressive political campaigns & organizations. She was an advocate for homeless people, a grass roots lobbyist and youngest President of Gray Panthers Network (seven chapters) in So.California in the early 90’s.

Cherie also assisted Carol Shaw in writing her book, Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are, a premier guide for beautiful fashions for the larger-sized woman. She served as a ghost writer and published several articles on various subjects, including commercial real estate. Her article, LA Needs a Wake-Up Call on Homelessness, was featured in the front of the LA Business Journal.

Presently retired, Cherie is an auditioned member of a music performance group in Ohio Appalachia — and working on a few books, various subjects.