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Johnson, Mike (ed.) / Leblanc Bell : A newsletter for music retailers, educators, employees and friends of G. Leblanc Corporation
(May 6, 1996)

Hollywood opus,   pp. 12-13

Page 12

A movie works its magic
in hailing the heroics of
dedicated music teachers
by Michael Gudbaur
Contributing Editor
An exciting new impetus for raising
public awareness of the importance of
school music has come from an un-
likely but welcome source- Hollywood.
An important film, released this past
January, brings into sharp focus the
enormous impact that a single teacher,
a music teacher, can have on his stu-
dents, an impact that extends beyond
the classroom to his entire community.
That film, of course, is Mr. Holland's
Opus, the motion picture that has cre-
ated a sensation in the music field. One
can hardly think of a better vehicle for
promoting the industry's mission to
increase awareness of and appreciation
for the power of music education.
Mr. Holland's Opus, set between the
years 1965 and 1995, chronicles the fic-
tional but true-to-life story of Glenn
Holland, played by Richard Dreyfuss.
A busy professional musician, Holland
accepts a "temporary" high school
teaching position in order to save
enough money to devote himself to his
ultimate ambition-to compose a great
American symphony.
As his family and responsibilities
grow, his four-year teaching agenda is
abandoned, and composing eventually
takes a back seat to the needs of his
students. Over the course of 30 years'
triumphs and sacrifices, Holland comes
to realize the great rewards of teach-
ing, becoming a dedicated, passionate
and beloved role model.
Teacher Glenn Holland: "You can cut the arts all you want, but sooner or later these
kids won't have anything left to read or write about"
His students, in turn, are inspired
by Holland's love of music, and more
than a few students' lives are changed
by the example he sets. Near the end
of his career, Holland is forced to re-
tire due to budget cuts in his school
district, a plight that has been all too
real for many music educators around
the country. In the film's poignant fi-
nale, we see that Holland's career, just
as those of all teachers who inspire their
students, was anything but ordinary.
A highly entertaining film by any
standard (featuring a powerful Oscar-
nominated performance by Dreyfuss),
Mr. Holland's Opus also demonstrates
that arts education as a means to im-
prove our children's lives is not a
luxury, but a necessity that mustn't be
taken for granted. Though it "teaches,"
the film is not a cautionary tale, nor is
its message played out heavy-handedly.
It is, more than anything, a tribute to
a music teacher's life and career and
the positive, lasting impact he and his
music make on the lives he touches.
Mr. Holland's Opus contains none
of the ingredients of a typical box-

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