I am Tiffany Brannan. I’m seventeen years old and the older sister. Since I was four years old, I have known that I want to be a singer. Singing gives me greater joy than anything else. I took my first ballet class at age three. When I was four, I took a hula class in addition to tap and ballet dancing. This class featured singing as well as dancing. When the teacher realized that I was the only one who knew the lyrics of the song, she handed me the microphone and told me to sing for the class. I took the microphone and sang. That was when my parents and I realized that I am a singer.
At five, I started taking musical theater classes, which gave me more opportunities to develop my singing and acting. The next year, I started taking my first private voice lessons with a musical theater teacher. That year, I appeared in my first play, the Indio Date Pageant, as the youngest lead in the festival’s sixty-two year history. At the time, I was also taking ballet and tap dancing lessons and playing the piano under my mother’s tutelage. At age seven, I began taking private vocal lessons with a singing teacher from Idyllwild Arts High School. He was a musical theater teacher as well as an opera instructor, and he taught primarily at universities. I was reluctant to study opera, but my mother assured me that the new teacher also taught musical theater. In April of 2009, I began studying with the new teacher. It wasn’t long before he introduced some simple Italian arias to me. Soon, I was singing in French and German, as well. By the time I was ten, I knew that I wanted to be a classical singer. As I studied with my classical voice teacher, I started taking private tap lessons with Bill Bartlett and continued doing ballet on and off. I also performed in several musical productions. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to be strictly classical, so I didn’t pursue any more musical theater. At age eleven, I gave my first classical vocal recital. At age twelve, I was in an opera production at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where my teacher taught. I sang and danced in the chorus, understudied a supporting soprano role, and had a small solo. I eventually began taking private ballroom dancing lessons with Mr. Barlett and his wife, Debbie, instead of private tap lessons.
Since I began kindergarten, I have been homeschooled by my mother. We received the curriculum from a school near Chicago, Illinois, and we sent the material back there for testing. Because of my high results in California Achievement Tests, I skipped 5th and 7th grades. I graduated from high school at age thirteen. I took three years of German in high school, and I had a year of private lessons with a German tutor afterwards. I still play the piano, take occasional ballroom dancing lessons, and take a weekly vocal lesson with my teacher of nine years. He moved back to his native Louisiana in 2014, so I have been taking lessons with him over Skype for almost four years now. I now sing opera, oratories, art songs, arias, and folk songs in twenty-one languages.
Throughout my whole life, my family has watched classic movies. I was never exposed to modern films, so I remained free from their influence. I believed that movies were wholesome and decent in the Golden Era because society was better. I thought that the moral decline in the late 1950s and 60s was just a product of the times. About two years ago, we began to be more interested in movies and culture from the 1930s. As I studied this period, I learned about the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930. I was fascinated, since it made everything clear. I had noticed that movies from the early 1930s were not as clean, but I figured that that was just something that had remained from the Roaring Twenties. Learning about the Production Code made everything clearer in my mind. I learned that the Code began to be really enforced in 1934, and that created an era of golden entertainment. As I learned more about the Code, the Production Code Administration, and Joseph I. Breen, the Code enforcer from 1934-1954, I realized that they were in complete agreement with all the standards we had always had for movies. We agreed that the Motion Picture Production Code should be brought back to Hollywood. In the summer of 2016, Rebekah and I wrote a research paper entitled The Production Code of 1930’s Impact on America. This paper encouraged us to start the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society (PEPS), an organization dedicated to bringing the Code back to Hollywood. We officially started PEPS on October 17, but the scope is bigger than bringing back the Code. The official goal of PEPS is to save the arts in America, and by that we mean that we also want to reform opera and ballet by encouraging traditional, decent productions throughout America. I have built and maintained the PEPS website since its formation. I have written the majority of the articles for it. I am the Public Relations Manager for the organization.
In the beginning of 2018, I started taking an online travel writing course. I think that travel writing is a good way to earn some money to fund PEPS and pay for our travel expenses. My first article, The Zodiac: Gourmet In-Store Dining in San Diego, California, was published in Travel Post Monthly on April 2. I am constantly looking for more topics and opportunities for articles and publication.
I love the 1930s and the Victorian era. I enjoy writing poetry, and I am working on a novel. I love glamour and style from the Golden Era of Hollywood, yet there is a timeless beauty about the gracious style of the 1800s that charms me. I relax by watching old movies and listening to music. My sister and I enjoy writing movies that could have been made during the Golden Era with classic actors and filmmakers. I love history and the English language. My two favorite historic figures are Queen Victoria and Joseph I. Breen. I dream of one day singing the role of Cleopatra in a beautiful, historically accurate, and musically ethical production of Giulio Cesare by George Frideric Handel, my favorite opera by my favorite composer. I have imagined every costume, every set, and every scene. I know all the arias and duets in preparation for that great occasion. If the Code is brought back to Hollywood, and operas begin to be performed with integrity, perhaps I will get that chance some day.
I am Rebekah Brannan. I’m fourteen years old and the younger sister. I love singing, too, but it isn’t my only interest. I am also training to be a ballerina. I love to write, as well. I’ve always wanted to do everything that my sister is doing, so I have had a lot of opportunities at a young age. I never want to be left behind.
I started taking my first ballet classes at age three. I started taking private singing lessons with Tiffany’s musical theater teacher that same year. At my ballet studio, I was in a production of The Nutcracker that year and the next year. In the same year, I played a little princess in The King and I, my first play. The next year, Tiffany began taking private lessons with a college opera teacher. After two weeks, I decided that I wanted to have lessons with him, too. I have been studying with him ever since. At first, I just sang Disney princess songs and musical theater. It wasn’t long, though, before I began singing Italian arias, too. When I was five, I was in productions of The Music Man, Oliver, and Gypsy. During the next few years, I took ballet classes at a few different schools. I took private tap lessons with Bill Bartlett with my sister for a few years. The rhythm and intricate combinations I learned during those lessons have helped me with my ballet ever since. I played the violin for a while, and then my mother instructed me in the flute, since she was a professional flautist. Now I am playing the piano under my mother’s tutelage. At age nine, I was in an opera that my singing teacher put on at the University of California, Santa Barbara. I sang and danced in the chorus, and I delivered a message in Act I. I took private ballet lessons with the head of the Idyllwild Arts dance program for two years. While studying with her, I went en pointe in January of 2016 at age eleven. In April of 2018, I began studying at The Ballet Studio in Temecula. I am currently taking private lessons two days a week with a private pas de deux lesson on one day and a pas de deux class on the other. I also do some ballroom dancing.
My mother homeschooled me throughout my education. With her help, I completed grades quickly and skipped 5th and 7th grades. During my high school years, my sister helped me, too, since she had recently completed the courses. I took two years of German in high school. In December of 2017, I graduated from high school at age thirteen. I take a weekly Skype lesson with my opera teacher of nine years. At one time, I didn’t know if I wanted to continue singing much longer. Now, I like singing as much as I like ballet. I may want to be an opera singer. I sing in nine languages, and my repertoire includes opera arias, art songs, folk songs, operetta pieces, and musical theater solos.
I am also a fiction writer. I love to write poems, short stories, novels, and books of many genres and lengths. I am working on several stories which I hope will be published someday. I have also started a few play and movie scripts. Tiffany and I love imagining movies that could have been made in the Golden Era of Hollywood. Even though most of these movies could never be made, since they wouldn’t be the same without the actors we have imagined, we love to exercise our imaginations and our story-writing skills. It helps us to relax. We also love to write ballets, which we hope to perform someday. We use classical songs and write our own stories and choreography to go with them.
I’ve always loved watching old movies with my family. Two years ago, my sister and I became interested in a new actor, Lew Ayres, who was quite popular in the 1930s. After seeing one movie with him, Holiday from 1938, we wanted to see some of his other pictures. Watching his movies led to our fascination with the 1930s. In August, we visited New York City for Tiffany’s birthday. During the flight back home, Captain America: Civil War was played on the airplane. Although I couldn’t hear it, I couldn’t help seeing part of it, since it was displayed in front of my eyes. The glimpses I saw from that movie were so violent and disturbing that they greatly effected me. Seeing that movie made me more serious about researching the Motion Picture Production Code. In September, we wrote a research paper about the Code’s influence on America during the twentieth century. That was the first step toward founding the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Although Tiffany has written most of the articles for PEPS, I have contributed a few pieces. I am the director of promotions, so I try to think of ideas for promoting our cause. In February of this year, I hosted a blogathon on our website in honor of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, the Singing Sweethearts of the Silver Screen. I don’t spend as much time or energy working on PEPS and the Clean Movies Movement as Tiffany does, but they are a big part of my life, too. Every time I watch a movie, I think of it in relation to the Code. Every year in the 20th century is identified with Hollywood history to us. Tiffany and I judge every aspect of our lives by the “Breen standard,” from our clothes to our ballet choreography to advertisements we see in the mall. We often pretend that we are filmmakers addressing Mr. Breen when we imagine our own old movies. We’ve become self-regulators ourselves from studying and imitating Joseph Breen so much. It helps us to realize just how helpful the PCA was and what good friends the filmmakers were with the self-regulators. The Code is really “the story behind the story” in Hollywood. Knowing about it gives movies and society a whole new dimension. It’s been really fun to explore this history and get to know the artists from this time.
I love the glamour and the style of 1930s movies. I enjoy recreating costumes from movies with modern clothes, hats, and accessories that look vintage when I put them together. I love memorizing lines and quoting them with actor imitations. My favorite actors are Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. I love their singing and the beautiful movies they made together. I get a lot of inspiration from their performances on the screen. I enjoy imitating Jeanette MacDonald in my singing, and I have learned a lot from Nelson Eddy’s wonderful operatic technique. Tiffany does strictly classical music, but I enjoy singing the operetta and other lighter songs that Jeanette MacDonald sang. I would love to see my ideas for movies on the movie screen and maybe even perform on it myself. However, there will never be a chance for beautiful musicals and wonderful dramas of the Golden Age to return to Hollywood as long as the rating system is in place. Opera has been ruined, so I may never get a chance to perform my favorite role, Cherubino from Le Nozze di Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in a traditional production. Ballet is headed in the same direction. My sister and I are the best of friends, so we do everything together. I’m looking forward to singing with her to help save the arts in America!
The Brannan Family
Our family is founded on the belief that everything must be good for all concerned. Our mother learned this motto from her grandmother, and it has guided our entire family life. Our father and mother have dedicated every aspect of their lives during the last sixteen years to our welfare, needs, and improvement. If something isn’t good for us, our parents don’t do it. We have never been excluded from anything. We do everything as one. We are a united body, a true democracy. We have always known that our feelings are important to our parents. With this, plus wisdom, guidance, and loving disciple, we have flourished. Thus, it is no wonder that we immediately loved the Code’s concept of all movies being acceptable for everyone. The modern rating system is like a family in which the parents partake of many activities from which the children are excluded. The Code is like our family. If something is not good for every member of the family, or the audience, it is not included, acceptable, or allowed.
Our father is James R. Brannan. He was born in San Rafael in Northern California, but he went to the California State University at Long Beach to study music therapy. It was there that he met our mother, Teresa Brannan née Ortego. She was raised in Idyllwild, a mountain community in Southern California where we now live. They performed together in wind symphony, since she was a flautist, and he was a percussionist. They courted during college, and they married afterwards. They developed a program series called Sacred Serenade, in which our mother played the flute while our father read corresponding texts. Our father started his own home management business, and our mother taught private flute lessons. In addition, they continued to perform their music in classical and jazz venues.
After we had both been born, our mother stopped teaching and performing so that she could dedicate herself wholly to raising, nurturing, and training us. We moved from Long Beach to Idyllwild, where we had more fresh air and space. Our father started a new property management business, which he has built into one of the finest caretaking businesses on “the hill.” He has worked diligently to provide the money for our lessons and education and so our mother can stay home and take care of us. Since our father wanted us to have the protection and safety of being homeschooled, it was especially important for our mother to devote her undivided attention to us, since she was our only academic teacher. In addition, she has helped us practice for our singing and dancing lessons, plays, and performances. She accompanies us on the piano every day as we practice singing and at our singing lessons. She has taught us good work ethics, efficient practice habits, productive study routines, and true perfectionism. Because of the early practicing she encouraged, advanced art forms and performing are easy for us.
Our parents have encouraged us in every endeavor we have had. They have allowed us to embrace our creativity and talents, yet we have always been lovingly guided by the principles which they instilled in us at an early age. Whenever we wanted to do something, our parents made sure that we had the best possible instruction and supplies so that we could be our best. Now that we have founded PEPS, our parents are behind us one-hundred percent in this endeavor.
All four of us are completely dedicated to the cause of reforming the arts in America through concertizing and performing programs which integrate classic movies with classical songs. Our parents are supporting the cause by donating their time, money, and encouragement to everything we do in regards to PEPS. Our father is the president of PEPS. If we succeed in bringing the Code back to Hollywood, he will be the new head of the Production Code Administration. He has the experience, understanding, and wisdom necessary to enforce the Code. During his youth, he observed the flaws and the dangers of post-Code entertainment and society firsthand. Like Mr. Breen, he is a husband and father who knows about marriage and raising a family. He has been in business for years, interacting with people and observing their characteristics and tendencies. He has studied classic films from the Code, pre-Code, Shurlock, and post-Code eras to discern the differences between them.
We are ready to share our music and cause with the world. Please give us that chance!