On Tuesday morning, January 24th, Academy Award-winning ASCAP composer Michael Giacchino went back to elementary school, joining a violin class (his first ever!) and spending time with all the 4th and 5th graders at Burbank's Providencia Elementary School to discuss his career writing music in Hollywood and to inspire young music students to follow their dreams whatever they may be.
Best known for his exciting scores for major box office hits and top TV shows like Mission Impossible IV, The Incredibles and Up (for which he won an Oscar in 2009), Giacchino is also a devoted educator. He currently sits on the Advisory Board for Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA), a non-profit program dedicated to promoting the integration of music into the curricula of Los Angeles-area elementary and middle schools with low-income student populations. Every student at Providencia Elementary School receives weekly, year-long music education through the ETM-LA program.
With the help of clips from his acclaimed Disney/Pixar films Up and Cars 2, Michael playfully shared what it takes to make movie magic happen. On his role as a composer, Giacchino shared how important communication is: “It’s so important to be clear about what you’re feeling. Music is a guide for your emotions. I have to tailor my music to fit the scene perfectly.” He presented two versions of a cue from Up and engaged the students in a discussion about which musical arrangement truly expressed the meaning behind the scene. Giacchino also invited studio flautist Bobby Shugold to play cues from Up as the students commented on what feelings they experienced when the music was played differently each time.
The students were captivated and inspired, as well as curious about all aspects of Giacchino’s life. When asked “Do you hang out with celebrities?” - Giacchino joked “Yeah…Tom Cruise is waiting in the car. I’ve worked with a lot of people who are probably considered celebrities, but when I’m with them, we’re just people making a movie…we don’t really think of it that way.” Another student inquired “How do you come up with all that music?” Giacchino laughed “They made me! The trick is, always make sure the job you take is something that will inspire you.”
On this auspicious day, Giacchino also joined a music class and learned to play the violin along with other 5th graders. He lit up the class with his natural wit and humor as he kept up with the students on their rhythmic exercises and “Twinkle” variations.
Giacchino has long been an advocate for the importance of music in a child's education. Executive Director of ETM-LA, Victoria Lanier, shared “We are grateful to Michael for championing our mission. All kids out there deserve to have music be a real and lasting part of their development and lives." On a recent Good Morning America interview, Giacchino asserted "Music and art aren't these frivolous extras that you get by going to school. They're a necessity. They're actually as big a part of learning as math and science." From the smiles and joy on the kids’ faces, Giacchino’s visit was an inspiration to the kids at Providencia. Mission accomplished.