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A frustrated composer finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher.
Adult Gertrude Lang: Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.
Glenn Holland: Playing music is supposed to be fun. It's about heart, it's about feelings, moving people, and something beautiful, and it's not about notes on a page. I can teach you notes on a page, I can't teach you that other stuff.
Glenn Holland: You work for 30 years because you think that what you do makes a difference, you think it matters to people, but then you wake up one morning and find out, well no, you've made a little error there, you're expendable. I should be laughing.
Principal Jacobs: Mr. Holland, it has come to my attention that you are teaching the students rock and roll. Glenn Holland: Is this a problem? Vice Principal Gene Wolters: Is this a problem? Yes, I think so. Our only job is to teach. We cannot teach and the students cannot learn if there is no discipline. Glenn Holland: Uh... I'm sorry, uh, what exactly is your point, Gene? Vice Principal Gene Wolters: My point is rock and roll, by its very nature, leads to a breakdown in discipline. Glenn Holland: Well, what would you like me to do? Deny that rock and roll exists? Vice Principal Gene Wolters: What I am... What we are saying is that you should be pushing the classics. Brahms, Mozart, Stravinsky. Glenn Holland: Stravinsky was the music of the Russian Revolution, if you want to talk about a breakdown in discipline. Vice Principal Gene Wolters: You are deliberately exaggerating. Glenn Holland: How about the Kingston Trio, Gene? How about Sing Along with Mitch? Vice Principal Gene Wolters: Oh, please! Principal Jacobs: Just a minute, gentlemen. Mr. Holland, I do not want to interfere in the curriculum of any teacher. But next week, I have a meeting with the school board. And there are people in this community who believe that rock and roll is a message sent from the devil himself. Now when that issue comes up, what can I tell them? Glenn Holland: Mrs. Jacobs, you tell them that I am teaching music, and that I will use anything from Beethoven to Billie Holiday to rock and roll, if I think it'll help me teach a student to love music.
Mr. Glenn Holland: The day they cut the football budget in this state, that will be the end of Western Civilization as we know it!
[Glenn and Iris are discussing the possibility of sending Cole to a special school] Glenn Holland: The doctor said that gestures meant... Iris Holland: It's way more than gestures. Glenn Holland: That gestures meant that Cole would never learn how to lip read or to talk! Iris Holland: He can barely talk now, he can't say two or three words! Glenn Holland: The guy is a specialist, Iris! Iris Holland: Ohhh, he's a specialist who thinks that deaf people are retarded and he is not retarded, he is... [Cole is screaming, asking for something and Iris doesn't know what it is] Iris Holland: Cole! Glenn Holland: What does he...? Give him what he wants! Iris Holland: I don't know what he wants, I don't understand what he's trying to say. Don't you get it? You walk to school every day with all these children who are normal. I can't talk to my son! I don't know what he wants or what he thinks or what he feels. I can't tell him that I love him, I can't tell him who I am. I want to talk to my son! I don't care what it costs, I don't care what the stupid doctor says it's right or wrong. I want to talk to my son!
Principal Jacobs: Mr. Holland! Just the man I was looking for. We're forming a textbook committee for next year's curriculum. And I would like to have your ideas and suggestions. We meet next Tuesday night in the library. Glenn Holland: Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs. Jacobs. I'm... I'm very busy on Tuesday night. Principal Jacobs: Uh-huh. You know, for a good four or five months now, I've been watching you, Mr. Holland. I've never seen a teacher sprint for the parking lot after last period with more speed and enthusiasm than his students. Perhaps you should be our track coach. Glenn Holland: Mrs. Jacobs, I get here on time every morning, don't I? I'm doing my job the best I can. Principal Jacobs: A teacher is two jobs. Fill young minds with knowledge, yes. But more important, give those minds a compass so that that knowledge doesn't go to waste. Now, I don't know what you're doing with the knowledge, Mr. Holland, but as a compass, you're stuck.
Mr. Glenn Holland: Let me ask you a question. When you look in the mirror, what do you like best about yourself? Gertrude Lang: My hair. Mr. Glenn Holland: Why? Gertrude Lang: Well, my father always says that it reminds him of the sunset. Mr. Glenn Holland: Play the sunset. Close your eyes. One, two, three, four.
Iris Holland: [Iris is translating Cole's signing for Glenn] Why do you assume that John Lennon's death would mean nothing to me? Do you think I'm stupid? I know who John Lennon is. Glenn Holland: [Glenn turns to Iris] I never said that he... Iris Holland: [Iris continues translating] I cant read your lips if you don't look at me. Glenn Holland: [Glenn looks back at Cole] I never said you were stupid Iris Holland: You must think so. If you think I don't know who The Beatles are or any music at all. You think I don't care about what it is you do or what you love? You're my father. I know what music is. You could help me to know it better, but - no. You care more about teaching other people than you do about me. Glenn Holland: [Cole makes a final gesture, Iris doesn't translate it] Iris... What does this mean Iris Holland: That means "asshole".
Glenn Holland: These tests are pathetic. "Name an American composer." Miss Swedlin, your answer was? Ms. Swedlin: Bach? [a student giggles] Glenn Holland: Johann Sebastian Bach. Oh, this... this is my favorite one. "How do you know what key a concerto is in?" Mr. Mims, your answer was "Look on the front page", question mark. Now, this question mark. Was that because you weren't sure or because your English skills are on the same level as your musical theory?
Glenn Holland: I'm 60 years old, Gene. What are you going to do: write me a recommendation for the morgue?
[at the burial service for Louis Russ, who was killed during his service in the war] Glenn Holland: You alright? Bill Meister: Yeah. We know too many of these kids...
Vice Principal Wolters: I care about these kids just as much as you do. And if I'm forced to choose between Mozart and reading and writing and long division, I choose long division. Glenn Holland: Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about.
Glenn Holland: Play the sunset.
Bill Meister: [pulling Glenn out of the lunch line] Teachers don't wait. Glenn Holland: Pardon me? Bill Meister: High school is not a democracy. Teachers don't wait. Bill Meister, phys ed. Glenn Holland: Glenn Holland. Music teacher. Bill Meister: Hi. [Bill hands Glenn a plate of cafeteria food] Bill Meister: There you go. Glenn Holland: Oh, my God. What is this? Bill Meister: It's Monday. It's turkey Spam surprise. You could mortar walls with it. Word of advice: always bring a bag lunch. Glenn Holland: Where's yours? Bill Meister: I ate it in second period.
Iris Holland: Why is everyone else's child more important than yours?
Louis Russ: Tubas are for fat guys with pimples.
Glenn Holland: He couldn't hear. Of all people. Not a thing. And because Beethoven couldn't hear, the thought of him conducting, let alone composing, was pathetic to most people. And so to answer them, he composed and conducted the seventh symphony. Just try to imagine; Beethoven standing on that podium, holding his baton, his hands waving gracefully through the air. The orchestra in his mind is playing perfectly, and the orchestra in front of him, trying desperately just to keep up. There is a story, that in order to write his music, Beethoven literally sawed the legs off of his piano, so that the body would lay flat on the floor. And he would lie down next the piano with his ear pressed to the floor, and he would hit the keys with his fingers in order to hear his music through the vibrations of the floor. Student: Mister Holland? If he couldn't hear, how would he even know what the notes were? Like, if he never heard a "C", how did he know that's what he wanted to play? Glenn Holland: [pause] Well... Beethoven wasn't *born* deaf.
Glenn Holland: Well, congratulations, Gene. You've been looking for a way to get rid of me for 30 years, and they finally gave you an excuse. Vice Principal Wolters: You know, I'm not as popular as you. I'm not anybody's favorite anything. Glenn Holland: That's because you're the enemy, Gene. You just don't know it.
Stadler: Who's that in the box? [a brief pause] Glenn Holland: Just some kid I taught to beat a drum.
Iris Holland: When you were in high school, did you ever wonder if your teachers went home and got it on at night? Glenn Holland: When I was in high school, my teachers were all priests and nuns. Iris Holland: I had such a crush on Mr. Griffith, he could've taken me home any time. Glenn Holland: Really? Iris Holland: Mhm. Glenn Holland: And who was this Mr. Griffith? Iris Holland: Oh, he was my music teacher.
Glenn Holland: Which instrument do you think you'd like to play? Louis Russ: Well, I was kinda thinkin' like... How about electric guitar? Glenn Holland: Well, this is a marching band. The extension cord will kill us.
Glenn Holland: [Mr Holland can't get the band to march properly] Left, right, left, right, left... Bill Meister: [Blowing his whistle] STOP! Take a knee! Bill Meister: [the football players start laughing] All right, START RUNNIN'! Hats ON! And don't stop until ya hear this whistle! Bill Meister: [Starts walking with Glenn] Glenn... I take it you were never in the Army. Glenn Holland: [laughing] Well, that's a stupid question!
Vice Principal Wolters: Have you been to any of the football games this season, Mr. Holland? Glenn Holland: I can't say that I have, no. Vice Principal Wolters: Well, Mrs. Jacobs and I feel that there's something missing. Glenn Holland: Touchdowns.
Glenn Holland: Enough of us already think "time" is a magazine.
Glenn Holland: It's almost funny. I got dragged into this gig kicking and screaming, and now it's the only thing I want to do.
Vice Principal Wolters: Corvair? Mr. Glenn Holland: Yeah. Vice Principal Wolters: I take it you didn't read Ralph Nader's book. Mr. Glenn Holland: Well, unless Ralph is willing to buy me a new car, I'm going to have to stick with this one until the wheels fall off. Vice Principal Wolters: Well, you might not have to wait that long. Heh, heh. Have a nice day.
Glenn Holland: The only ingenue we seem to have so far is Todd Markam. I really don't think that Todd Markam, or his parents, are- [is interrupted by Rowena singing] Bill Meister: Maybe it's just me, but I think she's better than Todd Markam.
Glenn Holland: [leaving his office hears that Gertrude is still practicing next door] Give it up miss Lang! Gertrude Lang: [stops playing and begins to cry] Glenn Holland: I meant for today...
Rowena Morgan: You love music and you made the kids love it with you.
Glenn Holland: I'm Glenn Holland. I'm the new music teacher.
Bill Meister: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm Coach Meister. Your marching buddy.
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