Michael Giacchino is used to working behind the scenes, composing music for such movies and TV shows like The Incredibles, Mission Impossible III, Lost, and Alias. But on this special day of June 12th, Giacchino was in the spotlight with a new set of audience members - the 4th through 7th grade students of the St. Sebastian School.
Students had prepared for this auspicious day by watching The Incredibles, reading and discussing Giacchino's background and biography in language arts class, and by writing a list of questions they would ask him. They also created a huge "Welcome Mr. Michael Giacchino!" banner filled with drawings of animated characters from The Incredibles. For these students, in which many of them commute from low-income communities, Giacchino's visit was truly awe-inspiring.
Students enjoyed watching a brief documentary of his composing and recording process for the much-anticipated film, Disney-Pixar's Ratatouille, made by Mick, his 9 year-old son. From there, they got to see first-hand how a composer interacts with musicians. Giacchino had a studio-recording cellist who has worked with him for almost a decade, Victor Lawrence, play freshly composed music from Ratatouille. After Lawrence sight-read the cues perfectly, Giacchino asked him to play with various articulations to evoke different moods.
Giacchino showed students pictures of Ratatouille characters the music represented, and asked how the music made them feel - what they envisioned was happening in the movie. He was impressed with their responses, in which some of the students like 7th grader, Malcolm, created entire scenes similar to the actual story. In addition, Giacchino asked them, "What do you think you need to do to become a professional musician like Victor?" Students responded, "to be patient," "focused," and "lots of practice!"
Earlier this spring, half of the 7th graders got to attend his recording session at the Sony Studios Scoring Stage for the. One student, Danielle, remarked, "I didn't know so much work was put into the background music of an animated movie. I will appreciate music in movies a lot more."
For this Grammy-Nominated and Emmy-Award winner, bringing music education and experiences to children who otherwise would not have the opportunity comes naturally. Giacchino is an Advisory Board member of the Education Through Music - Los Angeles program, in which St. Sebastian is a partner school. The program serves the entire student population with weekly, yearlong music instruction including violin, guitar, chorus, and general music. Education Through Music - LA is a non-profit program founded in 2006 based on the ETM® model with a fifteen-year history of success in New York City. Its mission is to promote the sustainable integration of music into the curricula of elementary and middle schools with disadvantaged populations.
The Principal, Ed Hermeno was extremely excited and grateful for this experience. "Michael's visit left an indelible impression on our students. I think true education offers up options in life, and Michael has shown our students a slice of life that they would have never otherwise encountered. He created that spark, which entices many of us to go into education in the first place. I wouldn't be surprised if some of our students became musicians, composers, or even directors after an experience like this. As an educator, I am eternally grateful to Michael!"
Giacchino imparted to the students that above all, they should go after what it is they truly enjoy doing. "I enjoy waking up every day of my life, because I LOVE what I do," exclaimed Giacchino. The last important question for all of them - "So where are you all going to be on June 29th?" - resulted in the resounding answer - "Ratatouille!"