Mr. Cook

The new Mr. Cook(left) and the original Mr. Cook(right).
The new Mr. Cook(left) and the original Mr. Cook(right).

Meet the New Guy

The new Mr. Cook is here and ready to continue the amazing music program at Empresa.

Mr. Cook attended Empresa as a child, where his love of music began. Both of his parents, the original Mr. Cook and Mrs. Cook, taught at the school. After his time at Empresa, Mr. Cook went on to Washington Middle School(now VIDA) and then to Vista High School, growing his passion for music in the band and marching band programs, respectively.

Performing in front of audiences has been Mr. Cook’s strongest area of musicianship for many years. He has worked with many professional musicians(including his father) as well as children’s groups.

When it comes to music education, Mr. Cook is all in. It is his belief that learning to play an instrument teaches us one of the most important lessons that we can learn today: the delay of gratification. In a world where many of our desires can be achieved by pushing a few buttons, music can teach us how to work towards a goal that can only be accomplished by practice and perseverance.

Mr. Cook directing the 2018 Holiday Show
Mr. Cook directing the 2018 Holiday Show

Our Founder

mr-cook1Yep, that’s the original Mr. Cook back in his early days at Empresa!

Richard Cook began teaching music part-time at Empresa during the 1997/98 school year, towing a little red wagon behind him from classroom to classroom when the school was serving 1100 students on a year-round schedule, delivering standards based music instruction to all students.

Over the years, the music program has flourished from those humble beginnings to become the model program that is is today, thanks to the support of the PTA and the Empresa Performing Arts Foundation, both of which remain dedicated to providing this critical element of core academic curriculum.

mr-cook2Rich attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA before graduating from San Diego State University in 1986 with a Liberal Studies degree. His passion for music has inspired thousands of children that have passed through his classroom, with many of them still involved in music as adults. Some have continued with music at the college level and/or perform professionally.

Inspired by the multiple intelligences research of Dr. Howard Gardner, Rich’s goal was to present music in a way that “places hooks in the coat closet of students’ minds so that coats of knowledge acquired later in their lives have a place to hang in the closet, standing ready to shield them in all kinds of weather.” He remains dedicated to the teaching of music as a way of perceiving and participating in the world that will lead to a rich and productive life.

In 2011, Mr. Cook was the inaugural recipient of the California Music Education Association’s Fortissimo Choice award.

He also does some composing – here’s a video of a song he wrote for the 10th Annual VUSD Festival of the Arts, courtesy of School Board President Elizabeth Jaka…