Lesson Plans Based on Movies & Film Clips!                                         

Terms of Use   



    SUBJECTS — Drama/Musicals; U.S./1865 - 1913;Dance/Performance;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — RomanticRelationships;
    MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness.
    Age: 6+; No MPAA Rating; Musical; 1962; 151 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:     A con artist, "Professor" Harold Hill, comes to a small Iowa town in the early 1900s. He convinces the town that it needs a marching band, taking orders for the necessary instruments and uniforms. He also sells music lessons in advance, concealing the fact that he cannot read or play a note of music. In the process Professor Hill galvanizes the town out of its torpor and falls in love with the local librarian/music teacher.

    Benefits of the Movie:     This musical shows small town life in the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century and provides an opportunity to discuss the ennobling power of love and the civilizing influence of marching bands in rural England and the U.S.. "The Music Man" is the original setting for songs such as "Seventy-Six Trombones" and "Till There Was You." The choreography and dance numbers are vibrant and striking.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.

    Possible Problems:    None.

    Parenting Points:     Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  1962 Academy Awards: Best Music; 1963 Golden Globe Awards: Best Picture - Musical; 1962 Academy Awards Nominations: Best Picture; Best Art Direction - Set Decoration; Best Sound; Best Film Editing; Best Costume Design. This film is listed in the National Film Registry of the U.S. Library of Congress as a "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" film.

      Featured Actors:  Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Hermione Gingold, Paul Ford, Buddy Hacket and Ron Howard.

      Director:  Morton DaCosta.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   Does Professor Hill find love and dishonesty to be compatible with each other?

Suggested Response: No. Love requires meaningful communication which cannot exist in an atmosphere of deceit.

For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

    Helpful Background:

    In the United States and in England, brass bands played an important role in bringing refinement and civilization to small towns that were otherwise cutoff from cultural resources.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: perfect pitch, mesmerized.


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

    2.  What benefit did Professor Hill bring to River City?

    3.  Why did Professor Hill have to get out of the business of selling steam automobiles?

    4.  Why did Professor Hill say he was going wherever the people were as green as the money?

    5.  What did the librarian mean when she said that Professor Hill had the whole town "mesmerized?" Who was Dr. Mesmer? Suggested Response: Mesmer was an early practitioner of hypnotism.

    6.  What is perfect pitch?

    7.  What is a lisp? Why did the little girl, Amaryllis, laugh at the little boy when he tried to say her name? Was that the right thing to do?

    8.  What does this movie have in common with the fairy tale of "The Emperor's New Clothes?"

    9.  What was Professor Hill doing in the song "You Got Trouble"?

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

Are you concerned that time will be wasted if you are absent from class? Worry no more  .  .  .   Check out TeachWithMovies' Set-Up-the-Sub.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    1.  How does love affect Professor Hill?

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)

    1.  What did Professor Hill mean when he accused Marcellus of "going legitimate?"

    2.  What is a traveling salesman? How is a traveling salesman different from a con man? Suggested Response: See Oklahoma!.

    3.  Why did the traveling salesmen hate Professor Hill?

Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!

    Bridges to Reading: None.


    Links to the Internet: None.

Become a TWM Fan on


© TeachWithMovies.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Note that unless otherwise indicated any quotations attributed to a source, photographs, illustrations, maps, diagrams or paintings were copied from public domain sources or are included based upon the "fair use" doctrine. No claim to copyright is made as to those items. DVD or VHS covers are in the public domain. TeachWithMovies.org®, TeachWithMovies.com®, Talking and Playing with Movies™, and the pencil and filmstrip logo are trademarks of TeachWithMovies.com, Inc.

TWM grants free limited licenses to copy TWM curriculum materials only to educators in public or non-profit schools and to parents trying to help educate their children. See TWM's Terms of Use for a full description of the free licenses and limits on the rights of others to copy TWM.