top of page

Soul Movie: My Thoughts

I finally got around to watching the movie Soul. My wife and I were lead to believe that the movie would have a focus on music. It was only a small part of the movie. The message to the movie was inspirational, but the story of the music teacher was disappointing. I believe Disney got this one wrong about the music teacher. The story

makes the music teacher (Joe Gardner) to appear that he is a musician that couldn't be a professional performer, so he has to settle to be a middle school band teacher. It really gives the impression that if you are a music teacher, you were not good enough to become a "professional performer". The character Joe does seem like teaching middle school band is a burden or last resort because he has been striving to be a professional jazz musician. This rubbed my wife and I the wrong way as musicians and music teachers. This is not the story of all music teachers. I didn't become a music teacher because I couldn't make it as a performer. In fact, I get to do both, I teach middle school band and orchestra because I want to inspire students "sparks" in music and life. Also, teaching middle school is not a downgrade from teaching high school level. My mom use to think that I would make more money if I taught high school. Not true, in fact there are 1st grade teachers making more than me. I teach middle school band and orchestra because I love teaching students at this age, and get to share my love of music and inspire them to continue on and instill a life long love of music. This isn't about "those who can, do; and those who can't, teach".

Only being able to speak for myself, I also get to perform as a "professional musician" whatever that title is supposed to mean. I stay active as a performing musician. I get to perform in symphony orchestras, wind ensembles, small chamber groups, Motown/R&B groups, rock groups, jazz ensembles, string quartet, musicals, studio sessions and more. It keeps me sharp and gives me an outlet for my musical creativity.

As educators, I believe that our job is to not only teach students our subject area, but to instill their "spark" to be life long learners, and to help find their "spark" that moves them. Teaching middle school is not a downgrade from teaching high school. I never saw it that way. I chose the grade level I am teaching. But the way Disney portrayed Joe's story just made me cringe. I don't want my students, families and other people to think that is the story of all music teachers. The music world is big, and so are the different areas of what musicians can do for a career. I always tell the students that you don't have to be a "Mr. Rais- Teacher / Performer," but we need musicians in all kinds of employment opportunities.

Besides that, I do want to give a big shout out to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their contribution to the soundtrack. I love Nine Inch Nails and the work of Trent Reznor. He is also a fellow band student. He played Tenor Sax and Piano when he was in middle school and high school growing up. You can even hear some saxophone on his latest releases of Nine Inch Nails work. I really like that he is venturing into the movie score scene.


bottom of page