We are here: integrating music into Character Education! #Character2017

imageAROUND THE PIANO is in Arlington for the Character.org National Forum on Character Education, “THE MISSING PEACE”  at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA October 20, 21.

Come join the ATP team at BOOTH #1  to brainstorm with us and stock up on resources for integrating music into Character Education.  Drop off your business card for a chance to win one of our supplemental lesson-guide/songbooks.

On Friday, October 20, 10:45-12:00pm in the Mclean Room we will present our breakout session “Using Music as a Catalyst to Help Students Create a Personal Code of Character.” We are going to have a blast thinking, singing, writing, and sharing about Character and Character Education.

Music helps us take the conversation to heart!

Using Music as a Catalyst to Help Students Create a Personal Code of Character Friday | 10:45:00 AM | McLean Presenter: Frankie Ghee, Melony G. Griffith


#Character2017 Come join us for “Using Music as a Catalyst to Help Students Create a Personal Code of Character”

ade6519a-9879-471c-aeb4-2801681f0944-1physical warm up_MomentThe ATP team is presenting at the National Forum on Character Education, Oct 20-21. Educators, parents, students and community members from around the country are assembling to exchange best practices in character education and learn how to create communities of character. Registration is here: http://character.org/conference/. We’d love to have you join us!



Team Building: Around the Piano with the GREAT FALLS COMMUNITY GOSPEL CHOIR

Around the Piano is a resource for teachers and team leaders that uses music as a catalyst to get people thinking, talking, writing, singing and sharing about CHARACTER.

We had great fun this weekend team-building with the Great Falls Community Gospel Choir Choir members and guests from the community worked together to build more personal connections, empathy and trust.

We would love to bring our team to share Around the Piano with your, classroom, school, community group, staff, team or family!physical warm up_Moment

Learning and Singing Songs Together:

Creating a safe place to learn about each other:

Celebrating Each Other Every Single Time!

Writing and Sharing Lyrics

Sharing stories:



Thank you Chris Benson, Choir and Visitors for sharing your community with us.  It was a joy using music with you!

“It’s Alright to Breathe” Song of the day from ATP-a resource for teachers and team leaders

IT’S ALRIGHT TO BREATHE is an original song by singer-songwriter, Frankie Valinda Ghee.  This song is about taking a moment to breathe when life gets intense. When, instead of rushing to judgement or even violence, we allow a meditative moment to assess our circumstances and appreciate each of life’s experiences, we take an important step toward developing a personal understanding of integrity.  This can lead to improved relationships and a better social climate.  Change can be a wonderful goal, but personal growth is more likely to take place in a quiet space. Sample:

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.




Tutorial: Getting Started with AROUND THE PIANO”What’s Your Name?



Music reaches!


Join the ATP Team in October.  We will be presenting and exhibiting.


A Lovely Day in Prince George’s County #PGATI #ArtsIntegration


A special thank you goes out to Rhonda Dallas of the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC)  for inviting me and Around the Piano to this awesome teacher’s institute at the beautiful Bowie University Campus.  I am inspired and excited to share ideas about how Around the Piano/Character Building songs and lessons can be seamlessly integrated into any curriculum.  Getting our students and team members comfortable singing, thinking, talking, and writing while developing their own personal codes of character and improving climate is an attainable goal that’s worth reaching.

What is “Around the Piano/ATP?”


Around the Piano is a resource for teachers and team leaders that uses music as a catalyst to get young people talking, writing, singing and creating about character.  The workbook includes an original collection of short, easy to learn songs along with demonstration audio, lesson plans and ideas.
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




Spontaneous “Around the Piano!”

These awesome young people came and listened to me sing for a while.  They were super kind.  They agreed to sing a song for me and then asked if they could sing with me, so I taught them “What I Ask of Myself” right there on the spot.  What a nice surprise!

Attention Educators: Consider adding Around the Piano as a tool for your 2017/18 tool kit

Around the Piano is a resource for teachers and team leaders. It’s about gathering a group of young people into an inviting space to sing and create while exploring and developing their own beliefs and goals about good character. There is something about singing with a group that puts us in a team spirited mind set. When we are creating sound together, we share a powerful personal connection.  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, owned and sung repeatedly will not be easily forgotten.

Consider hosting an ATP workshop/training for your school or district!