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Around the Piano/Character Building Songs for Teens and Preteens
What I Ask of Myself-Be loving. Share your talents. Be “worth it.”
Travelin’ Song-Stand up for what you believe in. Be a good friend.
I’m Gonna Use Music-Don’t give up. Use music to help you through.
Dreams- Picture a world without war. Share your dreams.
What’s Your Name?-Know what to look for in a friend.
Good Friends-You can choose not to hate.
When I Am the Best That I Am. Be trustworthy. Respect others. Be a citizen of the planet.
I Wish That I Could Fly-You are not alone in your dreaming.
I’m Right Here- You are not alone. Be a good friend.
Too Much Information Blues-It’s okay to have problems. Talking about them can help.
Around the Piano is about gathering a group of young people into a safe space to sing and create while exploring and developing their own beliefs and goals about good character. There is something about singing with a a group that puts us in a team spirited mind set. When we are creating sound together, we are sharing a personal connection that is very powerful. If we add to that connect the deliberate language of integrity and character, we are taking advantage of the perfect setting.
Gathering your group together to talk and write about character is amazing, but singing the results of that creation is huge, and the songs, once learned, modified and sung repeatedly will not be easily forgotten.
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!
Still Loving the #Character.org National Forum. “Educate, Inspire, Empower, Building Productive Citizens”
Day 2 of the Forum has been inspiring so far. Excellent speakers and excellent attendees.
Of course, one of the best parts of the forum is the exhibitors ! I wanted to share some of the awesome resources I learned about this week. Please check out the Character.org Character Consortium!
Have a wonderful weekend, and remember, MUSIC REACHES!
AROUND THE PIANO is a collection of easy to learn songs and lessons created by experienced teacher and performer Frankie Ghee. The lyrics give advice or share philosophies about character that young people can understand and explore. The lessons encourage creativity, self-expression, and tolerance. While designed intentionally to appeal to older students, this resource works well for all ages. Gathering around the piano fosters fellowship and bonding in ensembles, clubs, and community programs.
What does a perfect world look like to you? This is a great song to explore lyric writing, and improvisation!
THE EYE OF THE SEEKER is a new, original song by singer-songwriter, Frankie Valinda Ghee. This song is about improving our life experiences by focusing on that which makes us joyful. Although working toward change can be an important component of one’s personal character, it is worthwhile to dedicate time to appreciate what is right with our lives and each other. If we constantly look for faults in our community and the people in it, we will spend every moment at battle against something. We miss opportunities to lighten the lives of others with good news and reminders of beauty. There is peace in the world. We have to be willing to notice it. There is beauty in everyone. Let’s allow ourselves to recognize it.
AROUND THE PIANO SUPPLEMENTS are individual songs and lessons created with the same goals as the ten original Around the Piano songs: getting young people singing, writing and talking about issues related to integrity and character.
Like all ATP songs, the supplements can be taught quickly. The easy piano parts are optional and can be embellished or simplified to match your piano skills.
While we recommend starting with the full ATP workbook and adding the supplements as they become available, you will get everything you need to get started with your purchase. You even have access to our team for ideas and examples. We will email you a demonstration audio file when we send out your supplemental workbook.