Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mr. Holland Lives On

My workday routine generally begins like this: out the door, crawl through traffic, traipse into the office, fire up the computer, browse over my school district's web page. Two weeks ago the following article popped up at that moment, and it captured my interest:

Schuyler students receive $20,000 gift of music from Fidelity Investments 
The gift was music to the eyes and ears of students at Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy. Fidelity Investments provided $20,000 worth of new instruments to the school, marching in with the shiny donations to the surprise and delight of students who thought they had gathered simply for a preview of Tuesday night's spring concert. The gift was part of Fidelity's ongoing effort to support music in public schools nationwide.

I was thrilled to see that Fidelity was supporting creative arts in education. Music, drama, photography, painting are being cut from school budgets nationally due to dwindling government funds. It saddens me because it's like taking the heart and imagination out of schools and kids' lives.
The article reported that, Fidelity Investments partnered with The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. I hadn't heard about this organization, and needed to learn more so did a Google search. Here's some of what I found:
"The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation was inspired by the acclaimed motion picture, Mr. Holland's Opus, the story of the profound effect a dedicated music teacher had on generations of students. The film's composer, Michael Kamen, started the foundation in 1996 as his commitment to the future of music education. We believe that kids thrive when given the chance to learn and play music. Putting an instrument into their hands improves the quality of their education and their lives. The window is brief and all kids deserve a chance to play music in school."

Wow, I thought.

You see, as a parent, I saw how music kept my teenage sons away from too much TV and too much mischief. It activated their imaginations and improved their ability to focus. As a speech-language pathologist who works for a public school, I see the positive impact music has on students all the time.

Does the research agree?

Yes. In a nutshell, here's the consensus:

Schools have fewer discipline problems, higher attendance and more kids graduate when they are involved in the music program. Kids learn a skill and  positive behaviors that will last well into their lives. 

I investigated The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation further, and fell in love with their mission: "...helping youngsters to be better students and inspiring creativity and expression through playing music." Since the main character in my soon to be released novel, A Stop in the Park, yearns to be part of a music initiative at a Boys and Girls Club, I decided to ask the foundation if I could put the following notation on the back cover of my book:

Ten per cent of profits from this novel will go to The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation, an organization that keeps music alive in schools by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs. To learn more, visit

They said, "Yes." What a kick back moment it was to see that blurb below my bio. Stop by next week and I'll share the cover with you. Can't wait to get your opinion. Giving feels so good, and what a great way to add to the joy of releasing a novel.


Of course, it's a book with music as its main theme, and I chose one that will make you laugh too:

From Amazon:

"It had been said often enough that baby boomers are a television generation, but the very funny novel High Fidelity reminds that in a way they are the record-album generation as well. This novel is obsessed with music; Hornby's narrator is a thirty something English guy who runs a London record store. He sells albums recorded the old-fashioned way—on vinyl—and is having a tough time making other transitions as well, specifically adulthood. The book is in one sense a love story, sweet and interesting; most entertaining as are the hilarious arguments over arcane matters of pop music."


Jam-A-Ditty performed by Roosevelt High School Jazz Band (Seattle); Originally performed by Louis Armstrong. These young people are amazing!


If you haven't seen Mr. Holland's Opus, check out this trailer. You can borrow the DVD from most libraries.


  1. Congratulations! This is both a great tribute and grand opportunity to Kick Start a novel that has this type endorsement on the back cover. So on all sides of the issue, your generousity to school music programs and the opportunity to Brand yourself with such a highly known movie and it's outcome is a win win situation. Great job.
    I am also working to do the same with the ADA. It is so nice to be in a group that cares about humanity and the welfare of others. Thank you.
    Rosemary "Mamie" Adkins

    1. Hi Rosemary ~ I agree associating with The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation has win written all over it. Keep me posted on what happens with the ADA. ~ Peggy

  2. Thank you for this wonderful blog post. Like you, I was unaware of The Mr. Hollands' Opus Foundation. It sounds like they're doing a lot of good. Kudos to Fidelity Investments for supporting their work, and to you for donating 10% of the profits from your book to that cause.

    1. Hi Sandy ~ I love the donation idea. Who knows? My gift to them could be $100 or $100,000. I like to think big!

  3. Peggy,
    This is a great reminder on the importance of music in a child's life and I think your desire to give to the foundation through your book is admirable. I cannot read or play a single note of music and I feel a void because of it. Everyone should be exposed to learning at least a little bit. You never know what it might spark in a child.

    1. Hi Linnea,

      I'm like you. I so enjoy music, but have taken on the role of listener and audience. I have witnessed the positive impact it has had on youth and am thrilled to be associated with this organization. ~ Peggy

  4. Peggy, this is a great post. I had not heard of Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation either. What a great idea. I have the movie - got it years ago when I was learning deaf signing and someone told me about the signing in the movie. Too bad I didn't go any further in learning ASL. I think music can do wonderful things in anyone's life and it's good for children to learn while they are still young. I started piano lessons when I was 8, but there were no musical instruments in elementary school, only high school, though I didn't take part.

    1. Hi Diane,

      My sons spent hours with their friends in our garage making music in their band during middle and high school. It brought so much enrichment and fun into their life. I swear it kept them away from drugs, etc. and enhanced their learning in school I really believe music education is much more than teaching kids how to play an instrument.

      I always appreciate your thoughts. ~ Peggy

  5. I couldn't agree more about the importance of music in our schools and in our children's lives! That was one of my favorite movies too, but I didn't know about the foundation. Kudos to both you and the foundation and great post!

    1. Thanks Sandra. We're on the same page about this.

  6. Music plays such an integral role in learning! My former school district nearly did away with band and choir and it was quite the scandal (but I'll keep a lid on all the swarmy details). I had the same band teacher from 5th the 12th grade. If not for her, my life would have been different in so many ways. Her patience meant so much.

    If found your blog via LinkedIn and have added it to my RSS Reader.

  7. Peggy, this is fantastic!!! I could actually hear and see the video. You don't know how happy that made me. Those kids are fantastic.
    Yes, yes, music does make a bigGGGGGGG difference in kids' lives. I was one of those kids who sang in the school choir and learned voice control and singing there kept me out of trouble.
    I enjoyed this article and am very happy about your second book.
    Congratulations and keep up the gook work.

    1. Always good to hear from you Patricia. I saw how music influenced both of my sons. I don't know what they would have done without it.

  8. I am new to your blog from Linkedin. I love the sunflowers at the top!

    How wonderful to hear about the gift of music! I played the clarinet in high school and can see the benefits of playing an instrument. I remember Mr. Hollan's Opus- what a great movie. I still need to read Hight Fidelity.


    1. Glad you stopped by Jess. Heading over to your blog now.