Inspiration behind ‘Soul’ returns to Queens College
by Samantha Galvez-Montiel
Feb 02, 2021 | 6919 views | 0 0 comments | 911 911 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Peter Archer, a retired Queens middle school teacher who was the inspiration for Pixar’s Soul, joined a virtual moderated discussion with Queens College students, alumni, and faculty on January 28th.

The virtual discussion was organized through the ASK (Alumni Sharing Knowledge) Program, and moderated by Edward Smaldone, professor and former director of the Aaron Copland School of Music, who was also Archer’s professor.

The event backtracked to Archer’s time at Queens College and his experience working with the Pixar creators to bring Joe Gardner, the main character in Soul, to life.

When Archer received the initial email from Disney, he deleted it thinking it was spam mail.

“One day when I was teaching class, there was a phone call from the office and the secretary told me it was a gentleman from Pixar named Pete Doctor,” Archer recounted.

Staff from Docter's team visited Archer's classroom at Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 in Bayside to take photos and measurements to create the classroom in Soul.

A former student of Archer’s named Youn Ju Kim is now a pianist and part of the vocal department at the Aaron Copland School of Music.

“So many of my former students are now in the profession like Camille Thurman, she’s playing jazz at Lincoln Center,” said Archer. “She came in as a sixth-grader on the flute with such a strong passion for music.”

Archer discussed his journey that started with an trumpet audition for the music program at Queens College in 1981.

“The rigorous curriculum, particularly the 3-year Theory Sequence that most students were afraid of, helped me to become a more knowledgeable musician,” said Archer.

Archer discussed his time at Queens College and the many things he learned from his former professors, many of whom were in attendance at the virtual event, as well as his journey to becoming a music teacher for the next 34 years.

Soul is the first Pixar movie to have a lead black character and is available to watch on Disney Plus.
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