AROUND THE PIANO at Robert Goddard Middle School, a Prince George’s County Arts Integration School 2019
This program was made possible by support from the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council!
Integrating Group Singing and Character Education into a Social Studies Class!
Special Thanks to Ms. Olivia Hubbard and the awesome 7th graders in her class, Ms. Emily Wise, Principal Womack, the entire staff and student body of Robert Goddard Montessori School, and the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council!!
Contact us for information about how to bring ATP to your school or organization.
SING YOUR HEART OUT, AND SOMEONE WILL HEAR YOU!
The start of a new year or new semester creates a perfect opportunity to begin explicitly teaching students to develop a personal code of character. Your post-holiday gift can be intentionally creating a haven for self-expression, creativity and empathy in your school.
AROUND THE PIANO/CHARACTER BUILDING SONGS is a resource you can use to get students talking, writing and singing about what it means to “be a good person” or “do the right thing.” These original songs and lessons will help you get the second half of the school year moving in the right direction.
Be explicit. Let your students know that you’re using songs to talk about character because music is so very powerful. Let them know that you’re taking the time to do it because you care about them and you know your group will be better if you get to know each other and feel safe in this space.
1. Bring your group together around the real or imaginary piano in your classroom. Spend time teaching an ATP song that you feel comfortable with (because you can sing it through like you own it, and the lyrics suite the message you want to share with your group today).
2. Have everyone sit down, preferrably still around the piano, but wherever works. Start the conversation (example)Let’s talk about Winter Break. Did you notice anyone doing something surprisingly kind? Surprisingly brave? Surprisingly honest? What happened? Why do you think it happened that way? What do you think/hope you would do in a similar situation. Share a true story of your own.
3. Ask your students to write or draw a short description of their personal experience and what they learned from it or how they felt.
4. Sing the song again as a reminder of where you started.
5. Help your students write new lyrics for the song using ideas from your discussion.
6. As a group, and with great care and respect, sing all of the lyrics your students are willing to share. Have fun with it. Try not to make it a test or something that can end in failure. Celebrate every effort equally.
7. Play with the song. Encourage your class to create harmonies. Add rhythm , or instruments or movement all the while singing positive messages over and over again. Eventually something will stick.😀
*Depending on your group, you might do this in small segments over the course of the semester or make AROUND THE PIANO a regular part of your weekly routine. Take the steps in the order that fits your classroom and your style. Remember, you’re doing good work because you’re teaching music and listening to your students. You can’t lose.
Consider hosting an AROUND THE PIANO workshop for staff in your district. We would love to work with you!
SING YOUR HEART OUT, AND SOMEONE WILL HEAR YOU!
Around the Piano/Character Building Songs for Teens and Preteens is an engaging resource that promotes social, emotional and character development while improving climate through singing, lyric writing and discussion.
Thank you Camp Journey! Thank you Kools!
I had a blast with the campers and team leaders at Camp Journey at Ross Point in Post Falls, Idaho this week. I met with a small group of younger campers and loved their willingness to share about favorite songs, sing, dance, experiment with percussion instruments, play with plastic cups, and cheer for everyone. Remember 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…..?
I am super impressed with how kind and open everyone was with each other and with me.
If you want to know more about Camp Journey, visit http://rosspoint.org/camp-journey
It’s an amazing program!
p.s. You can call me “Treble”
ABOUT AROUND THE PIANO
Around the Piano is a resource for teachers and team leaders that uses music to get young people talking, writing, singing and creating about character.
During my years of teaching Middle School Choir in Spokane, Washington, I found that my students loved coming down around the piano and singing easy versions of songs like, “Glory, Glory” and “This Little Light of Mine.” They sang with full voices and without the usual shyness that was the norm for many of them, especially the boys. When we were around the piano, there was the feeling of singing around the campfire or in the living room during the holidays. Students sang with ease and confidence. I started letting them take turns with solos and duets and small group singing. This became one of our favorite things. We added percussion, movement, harmonies, and improvisations. Eventually though, we grew tired of singing the same few songs over and over again, and I was inspired to write my own “Around the Piano” songs.
In my classroom, the space around the piano became a safer place to sing out and to make mistakes, a place where only encouraging comments were allowed. “Around the Piano” became a cue to be more friendly and more brave. With ATP, the piano is not the important thing. Songs can be accompanied by any instrument or sung a ‘Capella. Your “around the piano” space might be a corner in the back of the room or a circle on the floor. It can even be as simple as a decreased formality and an expectation of welcoming behavior and acceptance.
I used these songs in my classroom to help establish a healthier climate and give students a foundation in concepts of good character which they could build on into adulthood. Themes of good character are embedded in the “Around the Piano” songs.
The ten songs and lessons in this volume were written specifically to appeal to older students. They are less sing-songy than what I might write for elementary students. However, they are not at all hard to learn and can be easily modified to fit your group. I have used ATP successfully with elementary, middle school, high school, and adult participants. I have used ATP in and outside of the music classroom. One of my favorite experiences was using ATP with several 8th grade English classes in Mead, Washington.
The ATP lessons help teachers and team leaders use the songs as discussion starters that lead students into story telling and writing lyrics. When students share and sing each other’s lyrics, some very powerful insights and interpersonal connections are made. Increased empathy and improved climate are the main outcomes, but the benefits of group singing, discussion and lyric writing can be observed over multiple curriculums.
I hope you will spend some time on this website, and feel free to contact our team with your questions, and comments. Please consider organizing an AROUND THE PIANO training for your staff, school or district.
In the meantime, sing your heart out, and someone will hear you!
Frankie Valinda Ghee
Schools, Organizations, Families, and Staffs benefit from singing together! Consider hosting an ATP Character/Team building event this year😎
Around the Piano/Character Building Songs for Teens and Preteens is an engaging resource for teachers and team leaders that promotes social, emotional and character development while improving climate through singing, lyric writing and discussion.
By intentionally integrating Music with Character Education in a way that naturally lends itself to integration with other curriculums, ATP can serve to restore music as a regular part of the day for every person in a school community.
We, at AROUND THE PIANO, are excited to work with your district, school, organizations, and families. We will tailor our events to meet your specific needs and budget.
The team from AROUND THE PIANO is happy to work with you in scheduling:
• INDIVIDUAL CLASSROOM VISITS
• SCHOOL WIDE ASSEMBLIES
• AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS FOR STUDENTS
• FAMILY/COMMUNITY BUILDING EVENTS
• TEACHER/TEAMLEADER TRAINING
• STAFF TEAM BUILDING WORKSHOPS
In our sessions we spend time together:
1. CREATING THE “AROUND THE PIANO” SPACE
2. LEARNING ATP SONG/S
3. MAKING CONNECTIONS BETWEEN MUSIC, EMOTIONS, AND EXPRESSION
4. MAKING CROSS CURRICULAR CONNECTIONS
5. SHARING STORIES WITH CHARACTER CONTEXT: MAKING REAL WORLD CONNECTIONS
6. WRITING LYRICS USING PERSONAL STORIES AND EXPERIENCES
7. SHARING LYRICS: BUILDING EMPATHY
8. LEARING MUSIC VOCABULARY AND SKILLS INCLUDING IMPROVISATION
9. DEVELOPING A PERSONAL CODE OF CHARACTER
10. WORKING TOWARD CLASSROOM AND SCHOOL-WIDE IMPROVEMENTS IN SOCIAL CLIMATE
We look forward to meeting you!
See you soon! https://www.facebook.com/frankie.ghee.94
I’m so glad that THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE!!
Today was the Spokane Schools Career Fair at the Convention Center. I was delghted to see so many 5th graders who wanted to talk Music. My microphones, keyboard and small percussion items were passed to some future Middle Schoolers who couldn’t wait to share there talents and some who needed just the tiniest bit of encouragement to wow the crowded room. I was impressed by the kindness and friendship I saw, and I was once again witness to the power of music to bring people together. The adults in the room clearly wanted to be there, and the kids were having a blast. Thank you for an excellent Tuesday Spokane.