Some logic statements for the teachers out there:
1.) Your kids love music.
2.) You love your kids.
3.) Therefore, you love music.
Even though this conclusion isn’t sound logically, it couldn’t be more accurate. Kids are obsessed with music. Put a good song in front of them and they’ll have in memorized by the next morning. Put a great song in front of them and they’ll be texting you about its importance in their lives many years later.
It took me a while to learn this lesson. When I started teaching I never thought to play and discuss music with my kids. Now, I can’t think of a better way to build culture / connect with kids on another level/create the mood in my classroom/talk about current events/inspire while being inspired/have fun/all of the above.
1.) Find a song you love soon / tonight / right now. (I put some suggestions below!)
2.) Print out the lyrics and give them to your kids. (Major key alert as DJ Khaled likes to say.)
3.) Play the song for / with them. (Feel free to do this twice.)
4.) Share what you love about the song. (Make sure kids share what they love too! I’d even have them share first.)
5.) Repeat as regularly as you can. (Also, ask kids which songs they want to hear to see if they have any good suggestions. They will.)
Here is an example of this:
Below are 12 legit songs that you could try. One for each month in no particular order. I’ve included my favorite lines too, which I think get to the heart of each song.
So no matter what you been through
No matter what you into
No matter what you see when you look outside your window
Brown grass or green grass
Picket fence or barbed wire
Never ever put them down
You just lift your arms higher
Used to look up at the stars and be like ain’t too much that’s different
I be shinin’, they be shinin’, get your one shot don’t you miss it
What you know bout’ wakin’ up everyday like you on a mission?
Greatest gift I ever learned is helpin’ someone else
You feel fully fulfilled ’cause you forget about yourself
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot
Sometimes you have to hurt for the ’cause to be reached
But one day you’ll be stronger than all that you beat
Money cannot buy
All the love that’s here tonight
Do it for your people
Do it for your pride
How you ever gonna know if you never even try?
I speak of wondrous unfamiliar lessons from childhood
Make you remember how to smile good
Selma’s now for every man, woman and child
Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd
They marched with the torch, we gon’ run with it now
They say the best is yet to come
But I swear it’s already here
Just open up your eyelids
10.) Andra Day – Rise Up
All we need, all we need is hope
And for that we have each other
But you gotta live right now
You got everything to give right now
I can lead with pride, I can make us strong
I’ll be satisfied if I play along
But the voice inside sings a different song
And a few bonus songs because you’ve read this far (why not??):
Yo’, whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
Lack of understanding, leading us away from unity
Love is the key
Love is the answer
Love is the solution
They don’t want us to love
Read more, learn more, change the globe
I’m proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come
On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
There are going to be other great songs that you play too. Share them in the comments section below! I’m always looking for good music.
I’ll leave you with these three final thoughts. All from kids I taught in 5th grade who are now in their last years of high school. In March I put up a picture of The Show Goes On on Instagram and they had this to say:
Tahliyah: “I was just bumping this yesterday lol I’ll never forget this song.”
Makeda: “The Anthem!!”
Quamir: “Was motivation back then still is now.”
To slightly remix Shakespeare:
If music be the food of students, play on.
As are most people.
During the warm up to start class I like to play high energy songs such as Chance the Rapper – All We Got and Krewella – Alive to build momentum. During the more reflective parts of class I like to play instrumental songs such as Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand in Mine and Coldplay – Life in Technicolor so kids focus more on their work than the words.
 “I’m ‘a get a scholarship to King’s College” is also an amazing line.
Don’t sleep on this song. Moana is a badass.
I might play this video too the second time through.
A shout-out to Twelfth Night: “If music be the food of love, play on.”
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