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Mr. Holland's Opus & Music of the Heart

The two films Mr. Holland's Opus and Music of the Heart have certain similarities as well as considerable differences, but at heart, each celebrates the power of music in education and the need to support the arts in the educational setting for the benefit of all students. Inherent in this idea is the view that music is valuable in itself, but at the same time, it is seen as a force that empowers the student who studies it and plays it, a force for developing self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment. The study of music and the other arts is often depicted as if it were a frill, but the teachers who are the main characters in each of these films shows that it is not a frill at all but a central educational tool that helps students with other subjects and makes them better students all round.

The films take place in different worlds both in time and place--Mr. Holland's Opus offers a long-term look at a composer-turned-teacher and his many successes over the years, while Music of the Heart depicts a real teacher who brought music classes to a school in an urban area. Both films show how difficult it is to get young people interested in learning, though the reasons seem different in the two films. Mr. Holland's Opus is set in a suburban region, and Mr. Holland merely has to overcome the natural resistance of the young to learning. Music of the Heart, on the other hand, shows young people in an urban and minority area, and these young people face many forces keeping them from learning, from their own poverty to parental resistance because the schools are part of the white power structure to gang activity and so on.

Both films celebrate the role of the teacher, but in different ways. Mr. Holland's Opus shows a man who has given up what he says he really loves, being a musician and composer, and become a teacher more by accident than design. In the end, of course, even he sees how valuable his choice has been, but for much...

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Mr. Holland's Opus & Music of the Heart. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 17:33, May 24, 2020, from