Friday, June 11, 2010

The TRUTH about Mr Holland's Opus


It stunk.

First of all, the opus---the music he spent his entire adult life composing---was terrible. Just awful!

Hard to believe that the makers of the movie didn't notice this.

But that was the real point of the movie.

Look at what happens at the end. Mr Holland realizes he was a great music teacher. All his students come back. They play his terrible, terrible music. Then they all talk to him. One of them is governor of the state. Some of them tell him what they do now.

"I'm an accountant!"

"I'm a comptroller!"

And that's how we know he was a great music teacher---because not one of his students went on to become a musician.

We see that Mr Holland's life as a musician was a complete waste. He spent his whole life writing a single tune and it was terrible. But he cheers up when he realizes his one true achievement in life was steering young people away from music--away from being an idiot like him.

I've never been able to sit through that movie. Didn't he have some problem because his son was deaf and he was too devoted to music to relate to the hearing impaired? This below-average no-talent bum.

People were gushing over that movie. They were pointing to it to advocate funding for school music programs.

And they're right. The whole point of school music is to steer the young away from music. They play classical music and jazz. The two least popular and most difficult genres. If the Beatles had gone to a school with a strong music program, they'd have died working in the coal mines. Or the shipyards. Whatever they have in Liverpool.

Music teachers think they're professional musicians. P.E. teachers think they're professional athletes. Art teachers think they're artists. Drama teachers think they're actors. The ones who teach academic subjects aren't quite as bad, but I've had English teachers who thought they were poets.

A guy I knew and his horrible experience in a school music program

I worked with a guy. He went to one of the local middle schools. I think it was Jefferson Middle School. Named for violent racist slave owner Thomas Jefferson, the school declared itself a "racism free zone". A racism free zone where a Russian kid was brutally beaten in the hallway a few feet from the principal's office by some right-wing communist-hating Hispanic thugs---I don't know their precise origins, if they were the spawn of anti-Castro Cubans or Honduran death squad members or pro-Pinochet Chileans.

The Russian kid was hospitalized and spent a week in bed at home. He had broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. When the principal of the school heard about it, she took quick, decisive action. She suggested the Russian parents meet with the Russian-hating thug parents.

The school had a music program. All 7th graders got to "choose" an "elective". They could either take band, orchestra or choir. And they had to pay for the privilege. They had to pay a fee to the school. Kids who either didn't have the money to pay the fee or didn't feel like paying for a class they didn't want to begin with were punished by being put in class called "Study Skills".

This went on all year. Each term, you either signed up for one of the music classes and handed over money, or you had to take "Study Skills" and go through the exact same class again and again and again.

So this fellow I knew signed up for band.

First, he had to listen to the teacher gloat that the school band had played for the President of the United States. Apparently the band played while George Bush, Sr., was campaigning somewhere in the state. I doubt he was listening too closely.

So the guy I knew started on one instrument. They moved him to a different one. It didn't help. He was tone deaf.

So they put him on drums. They found out was also arhythmic.

The teacher then tried to bully him into leaving the class. Either take choir or Study Skills.

But he held his ground. He paid his money. He had as much right to be in that class as anyone else and he refused to leave.

But there you have it. A public school devoted to music. Devoted to letting a college graduate with a soft government job delude himself into thinking he's a musician--a bandleader--and forcing students to bankroll his fantasy and punishing any who refuse.

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