Mr Holland berates his deaf son for being
too deaf to appreciate John Lennon.
Mr Holland's Opus is on TV in the next room.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, The key to understanding the movie is the ending, when all his old students come back and play his lousy "opus" that he had been working on for decades. It was just terrible. On top of that, his students all start telling him what they do for a living now and you notice that not one of them has become a musician.
That's the whole point of school music programs---to make sure kids don't throw their lives away trying to be musicians. They play jazz and classical music, the two most difficult and least popular styles.
At one point, Mr Holland throws another tantrum and demands that a student write a paper SINGLE-SPACED. Why? Does he know what single-spaced means? He seems to think he's being extra-demanding as a teacher because he wants a paper written single-spaced. He then demands that the same student attend the funeral of a recent graduate who was killed in Vietnam. This is supposed to inspire him to do better in his "Music Appreciation" class.
Mr Holland seems like a jerk. He's plainly the aggressor in his music-oriented Oedipal conflict with his deaf son.
I never liked music. I forced myself to take music classes because my older brother and sister did, but I was so happy when I quit. I've never understood why people think that sitting in a classroom and playing something note-for-note as written and trying to sound exactly like everyone else in the room is "creative".
At my high school, one of the music teachers divorced his wife and married one of his students as soon as she turned 18. Before that, he and the girl would spend their lunch hours together locked in one of the windowless "practice rooms" in the music department. At a local middle school, they bully children into taking music classes. For their "electives", they can either pay a fee to take a music class or they'll be shunted off into something called "Study Skills" which they would have to take over and over, semester after semester, until they agreed to pay. It was an extortion operation, forcing children to pay so that a few Mr Holland-like municipal employees could pretend to be musicians.