The magic music brings with a passionate teacher

The recent concert, ‘Third Time’s a Charm’ hosted by Saugeen District Senior School band on May 3rd, was just that … a Charm.

With guests, the Port Elgin Community Band, the concert featured a wide variety of music  genres ranging from classical to broadway, jazz to Latin and the 50s.

Community band directed by Ian Burbidge, one of the several directors during the evening

I have watched a movie many times about the value that music plays in schools.  It is ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’.

A  synopsisIn the fall of 1964, 30-year-old Glenn Holland is a successful and talented musician and composer from Portland, Oregon. He switches gears, taking a position as a music teacher at John F. Kennedy High School so that he can spend more time with his young wife Iris and work on his symphony. The film covers his 30-year teaching career, set amongst the changes in American society.

Holland at first struggles in his new job, but learns how to connect with his students by using rock and roll and other popular music to convince them that music is a fun and worthwhile pursuit. He becomes a popular teacher at the school and rises to the task of creating a school marching band with help from the football coach, Bill Meister, with whom he becomes lifelong friends. Holland persuades principal Helen Jacobs to maintain funding for the school’s arts programs, despite a shrinking budget and the objections of vice principal Gene Wolters.

In 1995, Wolters (who is now the principal) shuts down the school’s arts programs, citing further cuts from the Education Board and the need to prioritize reading, writing and math, and Holland is laid off as a result. Holland makes an impassioned plea to the Board to no avail and becomes despondent, believing that his teaching career has amounted to nothing. On his last day, Holland’s wife and son, now a teacher himself, help him clear out his office and take him to the auditorium. It is packed full of current and former students who greet him with a standing ovation.

What the movie makes me think of is the value of music and, every time I attend a local high school musical or band concert, I think of Mr. Holland’s Opus and how important music is to young minds and how it can alter the life of someone.

I know that many schools have the wonderful commitment and dedication of music teachers but, when I watch the local Kerrie Lynn Boys of Saugeen Shores and what she has brought to the music of these young students, I think of that old movie, ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus’.  He was different, he was quirky and he changed the lives of his students through music and I think that Ms. Boys follows in his footsteps.

She challenges students with such a wide variety of music that it takes the boredom out of learning and it has also proven that music is a key when it comes to learning.  Her students learn every facet of music from instruments to voice and in every genre from classical to jazz … there’s no boredom there!

Ms. Boys plays for the vocalists

Coming from a generation when the only school music was the ‘glee club’, I envy the opportunities that these young people have under the tutelage of someone like a Ms. Boys.