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Eduardo Garcia Rascon on Making Music That Kids Actually Listen To

Eduardo Garcia Rascon actually started out his career as a civil engineer. He had a special talent for seeking out problems and correcting them, but all along his true passion was music. He switched gears and eventually studied under TV composition guru Brag Segal, who has written score music for ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Dancing With The Stars,’ among many others. 

Garcia Rascon went on to help found his own children’s educational music empire, HiDino Kids Songs, which has gained a dedicated following, as well as many positive reviews of its educational content.

We spoke with Garcia Rascon about his long journey to this specific niche, and how he’s been able to create songs and videos that gain and keep kids’ attention.

How did your home and family life affect how you felt about music?

Even though no one in my family is a musician, I grew up listening to music because my parents always listened to a lot of music, both in English and Spanish. I remember listening to artists like Sheena Easton, Heart, and Luis Miguel. But my grandfather influenced my musical taste the most. He had the ear and heart of a musician. He never took a music lesson in his life but he would sit at our piano and play songs by ear. It always impressed and inspired me. I’m sure that he would have been an amazing musician if he’d had the chance.

Was educational music a big part of your own childhood?

I think that almost everybody in Mexico can say that they grew up listening to educational music, thanks to artists like Cri-Cri, the singing cricket (his name is an onomatopoeia of what a cricket sounds like). In Mexico, Cri-Cri defined what children’s music was. It’s impressive to see how his music is still being listened to, considering that he started writing children’s music in the 1950s.

Almost everybody knows his songs, which had fun stories that taught kids values, and they usually featured animals. My personal favorite is “El Ratón Vaquero,” which translated to “The Cowboy Mouse.” It has such a catchy melody and a really fun narrative. It’s about a cowboy mouse who is imprisoned and no one understands him because he only speaks English.

What are your feelings about working in children’s entertainment in the internet age? Why do you feel that it’s important?

I really love working in children’s entertainment. It’s so much fun to write these songs and it feels great to see them come to life through animation. I feel it’s very important because the internet is full of things that are very inappropriate for children or bring absolutely no value to them, and the worst part is that it is all very easily accessible. I feel I have the responsibility to create content that will allow children to learn and have fun, and most importantly, to keep the innocence that characterizes them.

Can you give us an example of one of your favorite videos/songs that you’ve made for HiDino?

My absolute favorite so far is “The Planet Song” and it has an interesting story. The idea came from talking with my mom. She suggested writing a song about space, which is always an interesting topic for children, so I started working on a song that named the eight planets and told a  little about each one of them. I remember one morning as I was taking a shower I started to think about this and I started to sing a melody and some lyrics that came to mind in the moment, and I thought, ‘I like this!’ I was afraid that by the time I got out of the shower I would forget all of it, so I kept singing and singing until I got out and quickly went to my phone and recorded it. The next day, I finally got a chance to listen to it and started to give it shape. Once I’d I finished it, I handed it to one of our animators and gave her some indications of how I imagined the video. She did a fantastic job on the animation, and this video happened to become our most successful video so far, with hundreds of thousands of views, both in English and Spanish.

What is your greatest asset as a composer?

That’s a hard question. I think I would say that it’s my ability to analyze and dissect pieces of music. This has helped me a lot in my career because when you get asked to write music for visual media, you usually get some examples of music that sounds like what they want you to write. So what I always do is listen to them, look for examples that are similar, figure out why they sound like they do, and why they evoke a certain feeling or emotion.

This ends up being very helpful because once I understand someone else’s song, I can use that knowledge in my music to make the listener feel the same thing they do with the other pieces, but while making it a different piece that has my personal voice. I did this pretty often when I first started writing children’s music. I listened to many successful and well-known songs and found out all the things they have in common in terms of structure, harmony, melody, and instrumentation, and it helped me understand why they work so well. Then I could apply this knowledge to my music.

You’ve also worked with Pamela Mora. What has she taught you about composition and about the entertainment industry as a whole?

It’s been great to work with Pamela over the past few years. I have learned so much about film scoring by working on her projects. She has always presented me with different challenges, from writing dark and ominous pieces to beautiful and inspiring tunes, to goofy, more comical melodies. She knows perfectly well what she wants and she isn’t afraid to say it, so with her, I have learned one of the most important tools a composer can have, which is the ability to take criticism and use it to improve your music. She is always working on many different projects and by seeing her work I have learned that you need to always be making something new, especially in this industry which is so competitive.

I feel thrilled to have her as my colleague and friend, and honored to have worked on so many projects with such a talented person, including ‘Ephemeral,’ which was an official selection at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner.

We are currently working on a secret project together that will hopefully come to light soon.

Can you tell us more about your experience of writing the music for the Mario Garza film, ‘Mr. Chuckles’?

Mr. Chuckles’ was such a fun project to work on. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend it. It’s such a brilliant film. Mario is an immensely talented filmmaker. This film presented a big challenge for me because before this I had never scored a comedy. Comedies are hard to write for because it’s very easy to ruin the jokes, either by under- or over-accentuating them.

It was also a challenge because when Mario asked me to score the film, I only had one week to do it, and I was working on other things so the timing was very tight, but fortunately I was able to make the deadline and Mario was very pleased with the music.

‘Mr. Chuckles’ was an official selection in seven different film festivals, and at the  2018 Portland Comedy Film Festival, I was fortunate enough to be nominated for best original music.

What is one aspect of composing for the screen that the general public may not realize if they haven’t done it themselves?

By far, it’s the number of rewrites and revisions we can go through. I have had times where I’ve had as little as one revision for a piece of music and other instances where I’ve had to write two or three different pieces of music for the same scene with ten to fifteen revisions. Even the best and most successful composers have been asked to rewrite music because the director felt that it didn’t work for whatever reason.

Sometimes we hear the music in a film or TV show and we think that the composer just sat down and wrote the music and everybody liked it and that was it, but that is far from what happens in reality. Maybe John Williams doesn’t have this problem, but the rest of us mortals do.

by Giorgio Chang

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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