LESSON

Choir Character

This activity exemplifies how through community building and music students can stand up to hurtful bullying.
Grade Level
3-5

Last year, after a faculty viewing of Teaching Tolerance’s Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case That Made History, I decided to center our annual winter music concert on character education and bullying.

Our performance began with student actors in the audience calling out pre-planned insults like, “you’re fat,” “you’re ugly” and “you’re poor.” Next, a choir member walked onstage appearing very hurt and told the others, “You are just mean.” The choir then sang “Mean” by Taylor Swift.

Between sets of songs, choir members spoke to the audience about respect, friendship, character, tolerance and self-acceptance. The following quotes were great openers:

“The things that make me different are the things that make me.” —Winnie the Pooh

“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools.”  —Martin Luther King Jr.

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” —Marilyn Monroe

“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” —Dr. Seuss

Creating a concert like ours is easy. When planning the program, choose songs with lyrics that convey a peaceful message, such as “Mean,” “Respect,” “Lean on Me,” “Keep on Holding On,” “The Greatest Love of All” or “Born This Way.” As students learn the lyrics and music, they will naturally engage in classroom conversations about tolerance, inclusion and kindness.

While the lyrics of these songs convey the desired peaceful message, adding dialogue during a performance demonstrates how to work together to overcome differences and establish a positive school climate.

Through songs and dialogue, students can learn to rise above teasing and harassment.

Erica Guillama
LORING FLEMMING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
BLACKWOOD, N.J.

Teaching Tolerance’s Bullied DVD and teaching kit is available to educators free of charge.