Classical music has the power to motivate, inspire, educate and soothe pain. No one is immune from the power of music. Our blog and Radio show celebrates the life and work of Senator Lamar Alexander, Secretary of Education, Governor of Tennessee, President of the University of Tennessee, author, musician, husband, father, and grandfather. Included are two articles on how studying a musical instrument and studying dancing develop “brain pathways”. Our article of the month is “Curb Your Tongue At The Door” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM

Radio Show Feature Question for November 2016: How does Classical Music play a part of Senator Lamar Alexander’s life as a lawyer, Senator, 5th United States Secretary of Education, 45th Governor of Tennessee, President of the University of Tennessee and what musical instruments does he play? 

Andrew Lamar Alexander, Jr. was born in Maryville, Tennessee on July 3, 1940 to Genevra Floreine Rankin and Andrew Lamar Alexander, Sr. His mother taught preschool and his father was a high school principal with a “beautiful” voice. He sang at revivals. His parents were of Scottish Irish descent.

Lamar Alexander, Jr. said, “My musical education started in the mountains of Tennessee when I was 4. My mother took me to what was then an experimental music class, where I learned pieces such as Mozart’s variations on “Twinkle Twinkle”. I later took piano lessons and played in many competitions. My dad led the singing at a lot of revivals, so I learned to play a lot of church music. I would later be influenced by gospel music on the radio, guitarists Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, and Elvis Presley. It was a wonderful mix of American music. My piano playing was classical piano playing, but I was hearing on the radio and learning to play by ear this other music.”

In high school he was class president and was an Eagle Scout. He later received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. He graduated from Maryville High School and went on to Vanderbilt University graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in Latin American History receiving Phi Beta Kappa. While attending Vanderbilt he edited the school newspaper The Vanderbilt Hustler and “advocated for open admission of African Americans.”

Alexander, Jr. went on to New York University School of Law where he earned his J.D. in 1965. After law school from 1965 to 1966, he clerked for Fifth Circuit, Judge John Minor Wisdom in the United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

Alexander said, “When I was a law clerk in New Orleans in the ’60s and not making much money, I would go down to Bourbon Street and play at a place called Your Father’s Moustache. I played for whomever was off in the banjo bands. One night I played the trombone, one night I played the tuba, and two nights I played the washboard with a spoon.”

Alexander worked on the staff for Tennessee Senator Howard Baker in 1969. He met his future wife, Leslee “Honey” Buhler from Victoria, Texas who worked on the staff of Texas Senator John Tower, at “a softball game for Senate staff members.”

Governor of Tennessee: Alexander was elected twice governor of Tennessee, 1979-1987. He replaced the state prisoners who worked in “the Governor’s Mansion with paid staff” members. As governor, Alexander cultivated a relationship with the Japanese corporate community to build in 1982 in Smyrna, “a $500 million Nissan plant” resulting in many jobs locally.

Lamar Alexander said, “When I was governor, I was looking for a way to unify our state. I realized music is about the only thing that unifies Tennessee. I decided to put some money in the community and symphony endowments, and challenged them to match that amount. I then went around the state and played concerts with 21 symphonies and community orchestras. People came out in big numbers to see the governor make a big mistake.” He laughed when he said this.

Alexander’s parents were both teachers and he put into practice his “Better Schools” program in 1983 standardizing “basic skills for all students”. He increased “math, science and computer education”. Part of his “plan” was “known as “Master Teachers,” or “Career Ladder ” which “called for income supplements for the state’s top teachers.” The Tennessee’s Education Association opposed Alexander’s plan for “teacher evaluations” killing the bill “in the state legislature”. Alexander, later on in the year, persuaded House Speaker Ned McWherter to endorse “an amended version of the bill, which passed.”

President of the University of Tennessee; United States Secretary of Education:

Alexander in 1988 “became the president of the University of Tennessee” for four years. From 1991-1993, Alexander became the “United States Secretary of Education”.

Elected Senator in 2002 and was re-elected twice:

Lamar Alexander at 62 years of age, “became the oldest elected freshman US senator from Tennessee.” He’s a strong supporter “of States rights!”

Senator Alexander said, “There’s a wonderful place in the District, and they have volunteers who come by and help underprivileged children learn how to play instruments. So I played an event there one night, and I told them about my musical education.” Senator Alexander inspired these children to want to study a musical instrument to help them improve their schoolwork.

Senator Lamar Alexander in 2016 was awarded the James Madison Award “for his work to fix No Child Left Behind.”

United States governors, “to recognize members of Congress who support federalism and the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing states’ rights, created the James Madison Award in 2016. The president signed the new education law Alexander worked to pass in December 2015. The Wall Street Journal called it “the largest devolution of federal power to the states in a quarter century.”

Senator Alexander with “three other senators” was awarded in 2013 by “the National Conference of State Legislatures “Restoring the Balance” Award for protecting states’ rights, the first time in 10 years the organization gave this award to U.S. senators.”

“Alexander is also chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, where he works to boost funding for basic energy research and invest in our inland waterways and harbors.”

Obama Health Care: Alexander on July 15, 2009, “voted against President Obama’s health care reform bill in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.” Alexander stated, “I opposed the bill because it will result in higher state taxes, an increased federal debt, government-run health care, and Medicare cuts, and instead supports a different approach to reform.”

Lamar Alexander has continued playing the piano throughout his life. Mike Curb, record executive, in April 2007 asked Senator Alexander to play piano for Patti Page’s new recording of her hit from 1950, “Tennessee Waltz”. Also in April in Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Alexander and Page performed “Tennessee Waltz “at a fundraiser for his Senatorial re-election campaign.” He has authored 7 books.

Senator Lamar Alexander, lawyer, college president, governor, author, musician, husband of 47 years, father of 4 children, and grandfather to 8 grandchildren. Lamar Alexander believes in serving others. He has served as Senator from Tennessee since January 3, 2003, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee beginning January 3, 2015, Chair of the Senate Republican Conference Dec. 19, 2007-January 26, 2012, 5th United States Secretary of Education, 45th Governor of Tennessee January 17, 1979-January 17, 1987, and President of the University of Tennessee from 1988-1981.

Senator Lamar Alexander playing Tennessee Waltz:


“Curb Your Tongue At The Door” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM

Have you ever wished you could “take back” the words you have just spoken?

During World War II posters read “Loose Lips Sink Ships” and “Careless Words May Cause Disaster.” Remember, “Loose lips “Do” Sink Ships”.

Under cover of darkness, 10-year-old Louis and his family climbed aboard a ship in the Baltic Sea, heading to America.  They were fleeing pogroms, rape, looting, and murder, instituted under the regime of Russian Czar Nicholas the II in the early 20th century.

Louis and his family fled with just the clothes on their backs. They came to America, the land of opportunity where you have the right to religious freedom to worship as you choose.

Louis did not finish elementary school in America. He immediately had to go to work to help support his family. He worked hard, learned to speak perfect English, became well read, and wrote to relatives all over the world to see how they were doing every month.

I know so much about this young man, Louis Charles Frank, because he was my Grandfather. He used to say to his grandchildren in his deep voice; “I came from Russia in a covered wagon.” Of course Grandfather was teasing us as he came to America by ship. Grandpa enjoyed taking us to the park to feed the ducks and geese and always had a ready supply of bread.

One day I was visiting my Grandfather at his real-estate office when an associate came in and said something negative about someone else in Grandfather’s presence.

My Grandfather replied, “He speaks well of you!”

The man paused and said, “You are right, Louis. I need to think about what I’m going to say before I open my mouth.”

My grandfather built a solid and successful business upon the belief that if you spoke well of others, they would speak well of you.

I always enjoyed visiting with my Grandfather; he always saw the good in others. He did not engage in gossip, and did not tolerate it! He believed in making it easier for people to see the positive and good in others.

“As a child I listened to Grandfather and did not engage in gossip and did not tolerate it either.”

 Grandfather lived by 3 rules:

1) Be judicious about what you say. Use good judgment when you talk to others.

2) Say something nice.

3) Give everyone a sincere compliment. Every day. 

Grandfather taught me to “Curb my Tongue at the Door 

Fred Smith, Sr., leadership guru, the mentor of   Zig Ziglar and Dr. John Maxwell shares the following story in his article, “Breakfast with Fred”:

Fred said, “Years ago I was asked to be interim music director for a small church in suburban Nashville.” After agreeing “the pastor asked me to sign a covenant stating I would not criticize anyone while I was there. I agreed to do it almost as an experiment, for it was so contrary to my general disposition.  After a few months I realized I never felt more community than I did there.  As I look back, I realize it was the fact of refusing to say anything negative about anyone that made the difference.  I could face any person there with complete freedom because I had never said a hurtful word about anyone.”

Fred Smith, Sr. learned to “Curb his Tongue at the Door.’

Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

At 16, I played in my first master class on the violin. A master class is when a musical artist, an expert, comes in and listens to exceptional students play and makes suggestions to improve the musician’s performance. The master class was for two hours.

I was scared out of my wits. Mr. G, the expert who gave the class, demoralized ever person that played for him. He said nasty things to each performer taking away their dreams and hopes for the future. It took me many months to get over Mr. G.

Many years later I was asked to give master classes in China, Australia, New Zealand and throughout the U.S. I first have the talented students play the piece through and lead the audience in applause. Then I give the students playing, an honest sincere compliment.  I then focus on one thing they can immediately do to make the piece better!

 Students improved on the spot! After each master class, while I was cleaning and putting away my instrument, a line formed of students who had not performed in the master class. These students wanted my help with their pieces. I spent a few minutes with each student giving them suggestions.

Remember Mary Poppins “A spoon fool of sugar makes the medicine go down.” It really does! Mary Poppins understood about “Curbing Your Tongue at the Door.”

Dr. Maxwell Maltz“, plastic surgeon, said, “it requires a minimum of about 21 days for an old mental image to dissolve and a new one to jell.”  He wrote in 1960 “Psycho Cybernetics” on behavioral change and sold over 30 million books and audio books.

So how can you curb your tongue at the door? Take your seven Day Challenge”!

 1) “Every day pay an honest compliment to each of three different persons. Keep a record of those to whom you pay your three complements. And observe what they say in response to your compliment.” Dr. George W. Crane

2) “Within the first 30 seconds of a conversation, say something encouraging to the other person.” Dr. John C. Maxwell

3) Every evening think up 3 “honest compliments”.

By following these three rules the world around you will change for the better in 7 Days! And you will curb your tongue at the door! ©2016 Madeline Frank

Contact Madeline Frank for your next speaking engagement at [email protected]

“How The Performing Arts Can Set The Stage For More Developed Brain Pathways” (Oct. 5, 2016) by Taniho / Fotolia at Concordia University.

Lead author of the study, Chiara Giacosa, Concordia PhD candidate says, “We found that dancers and musicians differed in many white matter regions, including sensory and motor pathways, both at the primary and higher cognitive levels of processing. In particular, dancers showed broader connections of fibre bundles linking the sensory and motor brain regions themselves, as well as broader fibre bundles connecting the brain’s two hemispheres — in the regions that process sensory and motor information — . In contrast, musicians had stronger and more coherent fibre bundles in those same pathways.”

Giacosa ,”This suggests that dance and music training affect the brain in opposite directions, increasing global connectivity and crossing of fibres in dance training, and strengthening specific pathways in music training. Indeed, while dancers train their whole body, which has a broader representation in the neural cortex, musicians focus their training on some specific body parts, such as hands, fingers or the mouth, which have a smaller cortical representation in the brain.”

Potential for Education and Rehabilitation:

Penhune , the study’s senior author and professor and chair of Concordia’s Department of Psychology said, “This work has major potential for being applied to the fields of education and rehabilitation. Understanding how dance and music training differently affect brain networks will allow us to selectively use them to enhance their functioning or compensate for difficulties and diseases that involve those specific brain networks. Recent research  shows some improvements with dance and music therapy in patients affected by Parkinson’s disease and children with autism respectively, but much more can be done with these and other diseases.”

“How Music And Dance Help Grow The Human Brain” (Oct. 6, 2016) by Mitchell Chamberlain.

Virginia Penhune, the study’s senior author, professor, and chair of Concordia’s Department of Psychology said, “Musicians showed strong fiber bundles in the sensory and motor brain regions and which also connect the brain’s two hemispheres. Dancers, on the other hand, had fiber bundles present in the same pathways but their bundles were broader than the musician’s fiber bundles. “This work has major potential for being applied to the fields of education and rehabilitation. Recent research has started to show some improvements with dance and music therapy in patients affected by Parkinson’s disease and children with autism respectively, but much more can be done with these and other diseases.”

“The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is now available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook:


Barnes and Noble(Nook)


“Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is now available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook.


Barnes and Noble(Nook)


Tips on how to use “Musical Notes On Math”

Madeline’s Midnight Melodies- Music From around the World” . This CD complements her books with a blend of dance music, gigues, tangos, ballet and favorites including “Danny Boy”, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” and others. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” is music to relax by and to move by for music therapy. ”Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” CD is now available for purchase by downloading a song, downloading the album, or by CD by clicking below:

Download Your Copy Today!

Amazon | iTunes | CD Baby

Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is now available through

To order your copy of “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget”  as an e-book on

Kindle click on the following link:

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving from your Non-Invasive Medicine…Music Expert, Madeline

For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker and concert artist. She has found a scientific link between studying and/or listening to musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2016 Madeline Frank.