Funny man Ed Helms Stops By Providencia Elementary for Laughs and a Lesson in Music

(L-R) Long-time friends and bandmates, Jacob Tilove, Ian Riggs and Ed Helms make up the bluegrass band, "Lonesome Trio". They perform for the students at Providencia Elementary School.

The multi-talented, Ed Helms (The Office, The Hangover 1 & 2, and The Lorax) visited Providencia Elementary School this week to promote music programs within the local districts.

Lonesome Trio introduces our local kids to bluegrass music. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

As an advisory board member of Education Through Music-Los Angeles (ETM-LA ), Helms and
his band, “Lonesome Trio” were invited to perform for local Burbank children. The Providencia Elementary students were the recent winners of an online contest that involved 9 other schools
from surrounding areas, including other Burbank schools, Los Angeles and Compton Unified.
Lonesome Trio gave two performances and showed off their original bluegrass tunes. One performance was geared for the younger kids (K-2nd) and one for the older kids (3rd-5th).  Before the singing began, Helms introduced his band mates and explained which musical instruments they would be playing and what they were called.

(L-R) Jacob Tilov, Music Director Victoria Lanier, Ian Riggs, Principal Jennifer Culbertson. and Ed Helms (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

The first was Helms’ guitar, which all kids seemed very familiar with. The second was the soft-sounding, melodic mandolin, played by Jacob Tilove and the third and final instrument was the
deep-sounding bass, played by Ian Riggs. When Riggs walked out on stage with the giant, wooden bass the little K-2nd graders gasped and a sea of, “woahs” filled the air. The unexpected reaction from the kid-filled audience made the teachers and the trio chuckle a bit. It is all perspective; the bass was bigger than any child in the entire room. Picking up on their amazement and being the famous comedian he is, Helms quickly joked, “ After you play the bass, you can then take a nap in it”. His impromptu one-liners kept the young belly laughs rolling.

Being a smaller school, it was a huge accomplishment to win the online contest. Ten schools in total, vied for the honor to have Helms visit their school. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

Riggs gave a sample of what a bass sounds like by playing a few funky low-notes, which got the kids all snapping as if they were tiny beatniks transported from the late 1950’s.

After the quick lesson on the names of instruments, Tilov, Riggs and Helms started out with a funny song about ‘being a family, eating Cheetos and fighting about the car’. The upbeat, acoustic song made the children clap, sway back and forth, sing and laugh.  After they finished performing three kid-friendly songs, Helms opened up the floor to some questions.

During the Q & period, Helms asked if any of them had seen, “The Lorax”. When a field of tiny hands shot up in the air, he then had them guessing which character he had played. The hint was to recite

The very well-mannered students wait their turn to ask Ed Helms questions about his career in music and acting. (Photo By Deborah Dodge)

one of his lines from the movie as, the “Once-ler”. The kids all cheered once they were able to put the voice with the face.

One gregarious 5th grader raised his hand and asked the inevitable and unavoidable question, “Was it fun being in, The Hangover”? Helms sheepishly admitted he had starred in the smash adult-comedy hit, and then replied in a very humorous manner by saying, “It’s a movie none of you should know about…” This time, the adults gave a knowing laugh as most shook their heads and smiled.

He continued to discuss how music in schools is so important to children and their development. Helms shared his advice by saying, “I love to play music as you’ve just heard and I think it’s very important. It’s something you all should

(L-R) Stan Carrizosa (Superintendent), Ed Helms, Peggy Flynn (Arts Coordinator) and Tom Kissinger (Director of Elementary Education) (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

foster, work on and try to get better at. Music is something you can take with you throughout your entire life.”

When asked about the music program and how Helms got involved, Victoria Lanier, the Executive Director of ETM-LA expressed, “Our mission is to promote and provide music education in disadvantaged schools as part of the core curriculum to enhance students’ academic achievement, and creative and overall development.  As an advisory Board Member of Education Through  Music-Los Angeles, Ed Helms is a huge advocate of music education for all children and champion of our mission. This visit is a part of the vital work we do to nurture our students’ development and achievement through music –

Jacob Tilov sits down as a 5 yr-old fan thanks him for visiting his school. (Photo by Deborah Dodge)

to provide quality yearlong, sequential and comprehensive music instruction to disadvantaged school as well as to inspire the children through special guest artist visits. Education Through Music-L conceived of the contest to decide which school would receive the visit, to get the school communities involved and engaged in their music programs, and to help spread the word about the mission of ensuring in-school music education for every child.”

In a world where budget cuts are unfortunately very common and music being one of the first programs to be eliminated, we as a community are thankful to ETM-LA for inviting Ed Helms and band mates, Jacob Tilove and Ian Riggs, to share their talent, time and words of wisdom with the students at Providencia Elementary School.

Film and TV and star, Ed Helms talks to our local students about the importance of music in schools. His quick-wit and improv expertise kept the kids' attention throughout the assembly.

Research has shown that music study enhances teamwork skills and discipline. In order for an orchestra to sound good, all players must work together harmoniously towards a single goal, the performance, and must commit to learning music, attending rehearsals, and practicing.  Perhaps these little minds from Providencia Elementary will soon pick up an instrument and explore the musician inside each of them. I know some have already started playing and let’s hope they continue to develop their own special musical talents.

There are many reasons for students to explore the world of music: Music study changes the brain and makes kids smarter, teaches them discipline, a sense of achievement, and it’s fun! Adults can benefit from learning to play an instrument too because it helps the mind to be alert and remain active eventually helping to sharpen the memory. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

People can learn more about Education Through Music-Los Angeles’ programs by

visiting: (Facebook)
@ETMLosAngeles (Twitter)

You can also check out Ed Helms’ band at:

Providencia Elementary School, ETM-LA and the very talented, Lonesome Trio pose for the camera. (Photo By Deborah Dodge)
    BurCal Apartments8715