* CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming: The ending.
* CrowningMusicOfAwesome: [[spoiler: The (non-metaphorical) titular opus.]]
** YMMV: many people found it more SoOkayItsAverage, including [[http://www.avclub.com/articles/the-brady-nod-18plus-works-of-fictional-art-that-d,75375/ the reviewers at the A.V. Club]].
** Which is perhaps the point -- the ''musicians'' are his real masterwork.
*** In fairness, the complete version (which is on the ''score'' album, not the song album) is more impressive than the excerpt heard in the movie.
* RetroactiveRecognition: [[Film/IronMan Terrence Howard]] played Lewis, the gifted athlete who Mr. Holland taught "to bang a drum."
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped: On keeping reading and writing but dumping music and art, Holland has this [[https://youtu.be/AsC2lkrfwlg?t=3m10s retort]]:
-->'''Holland:''' You can cut the arts as much as you like. Sooner or later these kids ''won’t have anything to write about''.
* {{Tearjerker}}: "Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful... ''Cole''."