Teacher finds calling in films


Rich Hadfield, teacher of music and film analysis, stands at the front of the class helping his students break down the film Citizen Kane, one of many, symbolically and structurally. Photo by Paige Kiehl.

Julia Schaller

Rich Hadfield, teacher of music and film analysis, stands at the front of the class helping his students break down the film Citizen Kane, one of many, symbolically and structurally. Photo by Paige Kiehl.
The lights flick off. The music starts. The film illuminates the room.  The screen directly ahead entrances the seated students.
For the rest of the class period, the students in music and film analysis will be in a totally different world. A world only interrupted here and there by a spunky man in a Lacoste polo.
This man is Rich Hadfield, the music and film analysis teacher at RBHS. In his class, students study different types of music and instruments as well as watch and analyze movies from almost every genre. The class incorporates studying film making, the cinematography of a film and the music that complements the scenes.
Hadfield has been teaching at RB for about 32 years. With his origins as a music student in college, he served as RBHS’ band director from 1980 to 2001. It was during the early part of his career he found another niche in film music and decided to study that.
“I studied music in college,” Hadfield said. “I was a high school band director here from 1980 to 2001, and during the early part of my career, I became really interested in film music and did a lot of studying on that.”
Although Hadfield taught as the band director, once he began studying film music and films, music and film became his focus.
“I had a good friend that taught film in the Chicago area, and I talked to him a lot,” Hadfield said. “I started teaching this class and the relationship between music and film and how it works together.”
Retiring in 2001 from being a band director, Hadfield has since loved being a part-time teacher. And because he only works for two class periods a day, he can spend a lot of time relaxing and doing what he loves.
“I started my teaching career in a very traditional school that basically was the teachers versus the students,” Hadfield said. “RB has a very inclusive style that still goes on today. I enjoy being an ‘equal’ in the learning process. Even though I know I am the person in charge, I’m always interested in what the students have to say and often learn something what they know. I think all the better classes at RB are taught this way.”
The films Hadfield shows in Music and Film Analysis range from Citizen Kane to Silence of the Lambs. Hadfield said his selections are standard for film appreciation class in college.
“Our class here is structured very closely to a friend of mine who teachers in a college in Illinois,” Hadfield said. “We trade ideas.  I also substitute movies every year when I get a chance to update modern genres. For example, I used Slumdog Millionaire for a romance a few years ago.”
Senior Sumidha Katti took Hadfield’s class her sophomore year and said she really enjoyed it. Katti loved the film selection Hadfield chose all year.
“The movies that were shown were great representations of the genres we were studying,” Katti said. “Mr. Hadfield does a good job of picking the best of each genre.”
Hadfield said the most important part of his job and class is what the students take away. Just sitting and watching a movie is one thing, but for music and film analysis students, he hopes students will never watch a movie the same way again. He hopes they will realize the varying components and details of a movie and how the music ties in with everything.
“My favorite part of teaching is getting Facebook messages years later from students who say the class totally changed their viewing and listening skills,” Hadfield said. “That means that what I’m teaching is prove that I have changed their perspective on viewing cinema. What else could a teacher want?”
Hadfield proved to follow out his goal, as Katti said his class changed the way she watches movies.
“I can see now the different techniques that the directors use that I learned in class,” Katti said. “It’s pretty cool that I can recognize what the directors want the audience to feel.”
Katti said Hadfield’s ambiance really makes the class as good as it is, and that the class would not be as interesting if it weren’t for Hadfield.
“Mr. Hadfield is really chill and he relates to the students really well, and I think the students really like him too,” Katti said. “Because he’s so chill, it’s a better learning environment because basically the class is watching movies, and that’s really cool in itself, but if the teacher was stiff and not relatable, it definitely wouldn’t be as enjoyable. His attitude compliments the class very well.”
By Julia Schaller