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COLUMNIST AT LARGE\Music educators cheer for 'Opus'.



Byline: Melinda Bargreen Seattle Times

When your projects and programs are under constant fire, you're grateful for any kind word.

That's why arts-education advocacy groups, from the National Coalition for Music Education to your local school's art staff, are so pleased with the movie "Mr. Holland's Opus opus (ō`pəs) [Lat.,=work], in music, term used in cataloging a composer's works, designating either a single composition or a group published together or considered a unit. ," in which Richard Dreyfuss Richard Stephen Dreyfuss (born October 29, 1947) is an Academy Award-winning American actor. Biography
Early life
Dreyfuss was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Norman, an attorney and restaurateur, and Geraldine, a peace activist.
 portrays a music teacher who inspires 30 years' worth of high-school students. At last, a movie that delivers a powerful message about the value of music education! At last, some recognition for the kind of teaching that makes a lasting difference in students' lives.

Look at the movie a little more closely. What happens at the end? I'm not giving away any deep secrets here; nearly every national review of the movie has discussed the finale. At the end, Dreyfuss/Mr. Holland is called into the principal's office to hear that his music program has gotten the budgetary ax. He's fired. It's over.

Yes, there is an up-tempo coda to the bad news: Mr. Holland gets a musical surprise party from a whole orchestra assembled from members of the class of 1965, the class of 1973 and so on, who unite to give the first performance of the three-minute symphony that took him 30 years to write. Not surprisingly, the big "opus" sounds just like movie music.

At the end, there are tears and smiles and a full house of success-story students and admiring faculty.

And the music program is still defunct DEFUNCT. A term used for one that is deceased or dead. In some acts of assembly in Pennsylvania, such deceased person is called a decedent. (q.v.) . Mr. Holland is still fired.

If the best Hollywood can do for arts-education advocacy is to celebrate a terminated program, there is some real reason for concern out there. Nor does the movie make a strong case for what a good early music education can do - everything from raising IQ and Scholastic Aptitude Test ap·ti·tude test
n.
An occupation-oriented test for evaluating intelligence, achievement, and interest.
 scores to developing creativity and problem-solving, learning discipline, developing cultural awareness, helping high-risk kids and teaching kids how to work together as a harmonious team.

Still, any recognition from Hollywood that there is more to the fine arts than MTV MTV
 in full Music Television

U.S. cable television network, established in 1980 to present videos of musicians and singers performing new rock music. MTV won a wide following among rock-music fans worldwide and greatly affected the popular-music business.
 is a message educators are willing to seize. In the wake of such public attacks as the congressional cuts in the National Endowment for the Arts National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

Independent agency of the U.S. government that supports the creation, dissemination, and performance of the arts. It was created by the U.S.
, arts-education advocates are rganizing so diligently dil·i·gent  
adj.
Marked by persevering, painstaking effort. See Synonyms at busy.



[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin d
 that outsiders may feel a bit confused.

Maybe it is the attention given to "Mr. Holland's Opus." Perhaps it's the fact that March is "Music in Our Schools Month" nationwide, or maybe an extra spur was the recent Newsweek cover story on the importance of the arts in brain development.

In the Northwest, with the enthusiastic support of the Seattle Symphony's Gerard Schwarz Gerard Schwarz (born August 19, 1947) is an American conductor. He is currently the Music Director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, a post he has held since 1985, having joined the organization in 1983.  and dozens of other individuals and institutions, the Washington Alliance for Arts Education is staging a spring advocacy campaign in an attempt to educate the general public about the importance of arts education.

A week ago, the campaign got a boost from Val Marmillion, a Los Angeles-based national arts advocate who provides consulting for such institutions as the Kennedy Center and the Getty Center Getty Center, art museum complex in Brentwood, Calif. operated by the J. Paul Getty Trust. It consists of six buildings on 124 acres (50 hectares) located on a spectacular promontory overlooking Los Angeles.  for Education in the Arts. Marmillion came to Seattle to dispense dispense /dis·pense/ (-pens´) to prepare medicines for and distribute them to their users.

dis·pense
v.
To prepare and give out medicines.
 advice on how to organize arts advocates so their efforts can be heard.

Marmillion, who says the congressional and other foes of the arts have dominated "because we haven't cared enough to fight them," also advises that "you can never have a campaign without a good fear. In this case, it's the public's fear of the loss of civility - the loss of high educational standards, culture, an understanding of the past and our ability to work together. That fear can be understood by every class in our society."
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 5, 1996
Words:595
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