Replacing Fear with Empowerment Through Song

Use songs with positive messages to encourage empowerment in the face of difficult news

About This Strategy

This strategy should be used in communities in which violence shows its face more often than welcome. Students who have experienced or have been exposed to violence in their schools, communities, and even in their homes are often left to deal with what they’ve witnessed on their own. In this strategy, educators will teach and encourage positive mindsets, forgiveness, and other elements of empowerment through song. 

Implementation Steps

  1. Prepare news clips for student viewing. These news clips should consist of current issues in society that would have an impact on your students. 

    • Consider allowing students to bring in their own news articles or to present about news stories that may have had a major impact on their own personal lives as an option.

  2. Provide the discussion questions handout to students prior to viewing the news clips (see resources below).

    • Be sure to remind everyone that the classroom is a safe space and be sure to protect it as such, at all costs.

  3. Post and unpack the following learning targets:

    • Students will become experts in researching and analyzing the theme of an artist's song lyrics.

    • Students will describe the mood of news clips and a chosen song using negative and positive mood trait words.

    • Students will critique the positive aspects of their chosen song in a summary.

    • Through song, students will counteract fearful, doubtful worry-filled thoughts with positive ones using song lyrics.

  4. Display the news clips in class. If possible, make them readily available in google docs for your students to access outside of the designated class time.

  5. Provide space and time for student discourse and discussion using student questionnaire and discussion document. 

  6. Chose a song that replaces fear and hopelessness with empowerment. Or, have students select a song that exhibits similar traits as those listed in #4 on the handout 

  7. Have students research and analyze the theme of their song lyrics, and summarize the song’s meaning, using the handout provided (see resources).

  8. Have students present a summary of the chosen song in class. Student presentations should include: 

    • Song title, artist, and lyrics

    • Any important history or context of the song

    • Why they chose this song

    • Who helped them choose their song

    • A brief summary of the song's theme and positive influence on society

  9. Periodically, or on an as needed basis, allow students to sing a song of their choice, as a class, for motivation, empowerment and encouragement.

  10. Keep a playlist binder using the student summaries and copies of the song lyrics.