An Open Letter to Gov. Brownback | Music Matters

Dear Gov. Sam Brownback,

I was inspired to write this letter to you after reading the article in The Kansas City Star titled “Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts, not a piano purchase, are to blame for Kansas budget woes” by Barbara Shelly.

As an artist/musician myself, I firmly believe that music education is important for the future development of children. Students who have early musical training develop areas of the brain related to language and reasoning. When learning music, students are constantly using their memory to perform. The skill of memorization serves students well in education and beyond. In order to become accomplished in music, practice is imperative. This helps students to develop discipline in order for their musical works to sound good. Plus, they experience a sense of achievement when mastering even the smallest goal in music. Hand-eye coordination is improved and increased when practicing with musical instruments and motor skills are also developed, just like playing sports. The list of benefits goes on and on.

While the article seemed to focus on the large purchase price of the grand piano for the Sumner Academy of Arts and Sciences, I would hate to see this used as a reason to divert funding away from music education in schools. I certainly can see your point in using funds more practically to help more students by hiring another teacher, reducing class sizes and improving academic achievement. But, as noted in the article, the piano purchase is a long-term investment. Perhaps there could’ve been a better use for the money that could benefit more students. But my vote would be to continue using funds for music education. Our children need another outlet for self-expression which also has benefits for their own personal growth and society. More children interested in music and the arts keeps them off the streets and focused on positive uses of their free time.

Thank you for taking the time to receive my thoughts about the importance of music education in the future development of children. As a successful young artist, I can personally attest to the benefits that music and music education have played in my life.

Thomas McGregor


Ref: Kansas City Star article:

Petition: 60 Seconds to Help Change the Future! Increase Funding for Music & Art in Public Schools


Sign the Care2 Petition NOW!!!

Education in the United States is currently suffering from a vast deficit. This deficit is negatively affecting the future of the county by neglecting our children the right to a balanced education. The solution is to pass legislation mandating a consistent and high level of music and art education in nationwide public school system ensuring the future has creative and well-rounded individuals.

Take a stand today for the future, for the children. There is power in the individual taking action in the name of a collective goal for future good. By signing this petition you are giving power to future generations. You are sending a message to the top that music and art education matter. Make your voice heard, sign today – and Thank you in advance!

Media Diet: Why taking a break is an amazing idea

Did you know that according to the Nielsen report the average American watches 34 hours of television a week? When divided out, thats 4.8 hours of television per day. Now, take into consideration kids over the summer — you guessed it, the numbers escalate quiet a substantially.

When you take a look at how society has changed over the past decade, you might contribute those changes to the people that change within it. However, these changes are largely due to the change in the media’s influence. Things have escalated to an unhealthy degree. We are over stimulated, over used, and thrown out at the end of the day just to sit down to watch something that separates the family and promotes the diminishing of values. We are human, and there are values that come with being human. One, very important value is to be kind to one another, something that seems to be made into a joke in the mainstream media. We are seeing the rate of bullying increasing, along with the divorce rate above 30%(CDC). When individuals are spending almost 5 hours of their valuable time in front of a very influential television set – daily, you may not be a sceptic as to if we are being influenced, sometimes hypnotized, by the media.

According to Prof. Mary Lopez(Occidental College, California) reality television is thought to be responsible for the increase in crime rates for those who participate in the reality programming via television viewing. Laguna Beach has seen a significant increase in the number of sexual predators in addition to changes in illegal behavior from local teens since the debut of the MTV reality show, Laguna Beach. Furthermore, many reality television stars have experienced robberies since allowing the public to enter their homes through reality shows via television and only subscription services like Netflixs and Hulu.

Everyone says how video games are violent and that they make those who choose to play them more likely to be violent in their everyday lives and in their adults lives consequently.  Now, the research has shown that the same outcomes are prevalent after watching reality television.  Researchers argue that watching violent acts that are unscripted can cause viewers to imitate the acts in their every day lives. ”Aggression portrayed realistically is more likely to be imitated than non-realistic aggression” (Nelson).  There are three types of aggression- physical, verbal and relational- and this article touches on all of them and their role in reality television programs explored in a study in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media.

We live in fast times where there are so many sources available to choose from in where our psychology has a hard time differentiating from what is healthy and what is detrimental. The  chief matter is our mental and emotional wellbeing. When these two things are in order the rest of our life may seem to be more organized and we are more rational, logical and productive.  Things of this nature need to be protected and cultivated — mass media is not doing this, it’s become a hindrance.

When a mind can be made to believe anything or persuaded to act via media influence, the people within the society need to take charge and speak their voice for they know is right and wholesome. Unfortunately, it seems that many want things to change but few seem to act in accordance to those wishes. Ultimately the importance of having a critical mind cannot be emphasized enough here. Implying the question: How many people must be hurt before change is demanded?

18 Holocaust violins restored

photo: courtesy of Amnon & Avshalom Weinstein


The Holocaust is remembered as one of the most horrific stories in history. Today, Holocaust survivors are hailed as heros, nurtured in the wake of such an event. As people, stories play a pivotal role in the way we live our lives. We rely on stories to inspire, propel and advance out current mind set into new ways of thinking. Stories speak to our deep need for exploring  life for deep meaning and purpose. We enjoy living vicariously through the stories of other in order to encounter other realms that strengthen our imagination. The Holocaust yield many options for stories telling that provoke many different emotions. An inspiring story of 18 restored surviving Holocaust violinist surfaced as a result of Israeli violin maker  Amnon Weinstein.  The project is rightfully entitled, ‘Violins of Hope’ centering the focus around the continued joy of these instruments after such a historic time in history.  The symbolism that wraps these instruments like a warm blankets clearly sounds the vigor and resilience that resound throughout those that experienced the Holocaust.

Prior to the war, these violins were mostly used for Klezmer playing, but
in the ghettos and concentration camps they played any
possible tune in order to keep their owners alive.
Each one of these violins is connected to the events of the
Holocaust, each one has its own identity and extraordinary
story of survival. Many of these violins are engraved front and
back with the star of David, indicating its makers faith. The
survival, restoration, and playing of these violins worldwide
creates the hope that Amnon’s project stands for.




Abraham Lincoln on Leadership Pt. 1 “Taking out the trash”


Abraham Lincoln is arguably one of the best presidents of the United States. Growing up from humble beginnings in the 1800’s, self-educated, and teaching himself law in his home state of Illinois. Lincoln became president during a time of grate turmoil and uneasiness. Therefore, he was able to express is solid leadership skills and deep moral convictions. He spent little time on trivial matters of gossip and interrelationship drama. Lincoln spend more of his time building strong allegiances with his fellow politicians and American citizens. He was steadfast yet flexible in the way he conducted himself amongst the members of his administration. This established him as a strong leader within an office that lead the country though times of change.


Lincoln spent much of his time learning about the people he was serving. Understanding their wants, needs, and future aspirations. He never forgot where he came from. He kept his moral grounded within his own personal knowledge of how simple life can be, with drive to making it better for everyone. Through his humility, he was able to manage a team of men that were of such ego. His strong leadership skills amongst his administration was rooted in pure honesty and humbleness. Lincoln new what was needed in order to keep the trust and allegiance of his fellow staff members. He knew that he needed to cut to the black and white of the issues and make sound decisions based on the information he received. His administration respected him for this stance. This allowed him to keep a strong tight knit organization to lead a country in influx.

In response to critices who urged the dismissal of General Grant after the batter of Shiloh, President Lincoln stated, “I can’t spare this man. He fights.” 

He made changes, and took out the trash when this was needed. In 1864, Lincoln sent a letting responding to Salmon P. Chase’s request for resignation. This was not the first time Mr. Chase had requested to lead the administration. He done this before to use this action as leverage with the president to get his way. These types of games would not stand with the president. He was not about to let a one apple spoil the basket. His response was as follows:

My Dear Sir.

Your resignation of the office of Secretary of the Treasury, sent me yesterday, is accepted. of all I have said in commendation of your ability and fidelity, I have nothing to unsay; and yet you and I have reached a point of mutual embarrassment in our official relation which it seems can not be overcome, or longer sustained, consistently with the public service. 

Your Obt. Servt. 

A. Lincoln


This was  kind way of saying “Get out of my house, we have no further business to attend to”. Lincoln was upstanding and graceful in his approach when the time came to releve someone from their post. He had sound reasons, and always presented a logical and honest argument to the accused. In the above instance, the president noticed the pattern that Chase had fallen in, when the time presented itself, he took action to extinguish the issue, which was the removing of Chase from office. The question remains, would Lincoln have removed Chase from office if the opportunity had not presented itself in such a clean fashion? How long would he had endured the games? I propose that Mr. Lincoln would have fixed the problem sooner than later. Lucky for Secretary Chase, he was able to have a say in his departure.

We can learn from this. We can learn to notice problems before they arise within our own relationships with other people. By looking for patterns, we can establish our next mode of action to take. If we see someone that is acting like in a uncouth manner that is pattern based, we can approach the situation with knowledge and gracefulness.

PRESS RELEASE | Thomas McGregor’s “Exodus” Music Video to Spark Imagination



Vote EXODUS No. 1 below:

(click on the orange “vote” button below the video)


GOVERNMENT:: Testing Missile Defense Intelligence: Israel

JERUSALEM — Israel says it has successfully tested an upgraded radar for the Arrow missile defense system, developed with the United States and designed to intercept projectiles that might be fired at the Jewish state from Iran.

Defense official Yair Ramati says the test was conducted on Friday in conjunction with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

He says the purpose of the test was to validate the system’s improved radar.

He said a Blue Sparrow 2 missile was fired west to east from “deep within the Mediterranean” but he would not say how far from Israel it was fired or what sort of threat it was designed to simulate.

A defense ministry statement says the Blue Sparrow was “representative of potential ballistic missile threats facing Israel.” -The Huffington Post

In light of the interesting developments with today’s economical stability foundations, I find it even more interesting that you have Israel building and testing a new missile defense system in a soup of 151 billion dollars in debt. This, of course does not accountably amount to the $15.4 trillion that the United States is under. But, this still poses an interesting set of events that may signal something of a larger situation in the future. Most people don’t realize, but in order for someone to get a new desk in a government building it takes(just about)an act of congressional approval. Anything associated with governmental spending, control, or legislation takes significant and detailed planning on the parts of the delegated people in those positions of power. With this in mind, you must take into consideration the recent release by RIA regarding the successful testing of a new missile defense system by Israel. In order for this to come into nationwide play, many many steps had to be played out in direct succession and accordance to Israeli governmental protocol. After realizing this, you could imagine for just a moment what this could mean. For if the government of Israel went through all of the systematic steps to produce, fund, and test a  Block 4 stage of the interceptor that will soon enter service with the Israeli Air Force (IAF). Estimates are that they bought half a dozen missiles. Including some nuclear tipped Sunburn missiles for the US battle groups, from Russia. The plans that are subsequential to these actions give into the assumption that the Israeli government believes they are in need of such powerful weapons. Conclusively, you must take into consideration that for a country that is nearly $200 Billion in debt to create such expensive weaponry, is possibly equal to a country that is $15 Trillion in debt continuing to participate in a war lasting for 12 years.

By: Thomas McGregor