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When Centerville teenager Henry Aldrich becomes smitten with his new high school music teacher, Louise Elliott, he invites her over for dinner so that she will convince his parents to buy him a violin. Henry's father Sam, a lawyer, is also charmed by Louise and readily agrees to buy the violin, although he dreads hearing Henry practice. Henry and his best friend, Dizzy Stevens, form a swing band and hope to earn enough money to fix the school piano, which Henry broke. When Louise catches them rehearsing swing music instead of music for their upcoming classical concert, she gladly shows them the proper way to play swing. Principal Bradley is appalled that she would instruct them in "indecent" music and forbids her from playing swing again. At the student concert, famous violinist Josef Altman plays his valuable Stradivarius violin, and Henry unintentionally takes the Stradivarius home instead of his own fiddle. On the same night, two thieves, Frank Graz and Harold, who were planning to steal the Stradivarius, take Henry's violin instead. Altman then ends up with the cheap violin which the thieves originally intended to exchange with his Stradivarius. When Altman discovers the error, his insurance company sends agent Boyle to investigate. Henry, meanwhile, is almost caught during a police raid while his band plays at a nightclub, and he accidentally leaves the Stradivarius backstage. Because the violin that Sam purchased was an exact duplicate of a Stradivarius, Boyle immediately suspects the Aldriches of the theft. Henry pleads his innocence and fears that Louise will be blamed if anyone learns he was playing at a nightclub. Dizzy confesses to Henry's girl friend, Mimi Gray, about their near miss at the nightclub, and Mimi then confides in Louise, who learns that Henry is in love with her. Bradley fires Louise when he learns about Henry's nighttime activities and his infatuation with Louise, and then calls Sam with the information. Mrs. Aldrich overhears the conversation and mistakenly thinks that Sam is in love with Louise, and leaves him. Henry and Dizzy sneak back to the nightclub and retrieve the Stradivarius, then call Altman anonymously and tell him to pick up the violin at the next concert. Before Mrs. Aldrich leaves, Boyle comes to search the Aldrich house, so Henry hides the violin in his mother's trunk. On the night of the concert, Sam insists that Henry sit with the orchestra even though he is missing his violin, and Mimi is called in to conduct, as Louise has been fired. Mrs. Aldrich returns with both Henry's and Altman's violins, and Frank and Harold, who have returned to get the real Stradivarius, struggle with her for it. Henry joins in the fight and when Sam hears his wife calling out, he rushes backstage. Frank escapes with the violin, but as the police chase him, he tosses it and Altman catches it. The thieves are arrested, and Henry admits that he took the Stradivarius by mistake. Altman is now grateful for Henry's mistake, and offers to play another piece to express his gratitude. Altman then insists that Louise conduct the orchestra, but the students slip into a swing rendition of a piece by Chopin because Henry has rearranged the sheet music. Altman "swings" into the popular style and Sam and Mrs. Aldrich reunite.