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IDEAS AND CONTENT
IN SONGS

The following lesson involves interpreting the ideas and content presented in songs. When choosing a song, make sure that it has a message that is open to interpretation. It should not be one that students are very familiar with because this leads to preconceived ideas about the song. I also advise that you listen carefully to the song and study the lyrics before presenting it to the class. Make sure you are comfortable with every aspect of the song and the possible interpretations.

I have provided two different versions of the lesson to fit different needs and situations.

Ideas and Content in Songs Menu:

Version 1 Song Suggestions 
Version 2 Links to Song Lyric Sites

Version 1

bullet

Materials:

bulletRecording of song

bulletTape player or CD player

bulletEnough copies of the song lyrics for each student

bulletPencil and paper for each student

Procedure:

bulletStep 1--Have the students clear everything off their desks. There is also to be no talking at this time. Play the song one time so that the students become familiar with it.

bulletStep 2--Instruct the students to listen for a message while you play the song a second time. There is still no writing or talking--only listening.

bulletStep 3--Have the students get out pencil and paper. Instruct them to write down any ideas about the message that come to mind while they listen to the song a third time. Again there is still no talking. It is important for the students to develop their own ideas.

bulletStep 4--Pass out a copy of the lyrics to each student. Play the song a  fourth time while the students look at the lyrics and record any additional ideas that come to mind or clarify ones that are already written down. Give the students ample time to finish without talking to others.

bulletStep 5--Instruct the students to write a paragraph (or essay) explaining what they think the message of the song is. As long as their opinion is based on the lyrics of the song, there is no wrong answer.

bulletStep 6--Now have the students share their opinions. Discuss the different ideas, being sure to point out that none are wrong.

Version 2

bullet

Materials:

bulletRecording of different song for each group

bulletEarphones for each student in group

bulletTape player or CD player with earphone jacks

bulletEnough copies of the song lyrics for each student in each group

bulletPencil and paper for each student

bulletOne sheet of posterboard for each group

Procedure:

bulletStep 1--Divide class into groups of 3-5.

bulletStep 2--Give each group a different song. Rotate the groups through a listening center where they will do steps 4-7. This will take some time, so the other groups will need something to work on while waiting their turn.

bulletStep 3--There is to be no talking at this time. Play the song one time so that the students become familiar with it.

bulletStep 4--Instruct the students to listen for a message while you play the song a second time. Have them write down ideas that come to mind while listening to the song.

bulletStep 5--Pass out a copy of the lyrics to each student. Play the song a  third time while the students look at the lyrics and record any additional ideas that come to mind or clarify ones that are             already written down. Give the students ample time to finish  without talking to the other members of the group.

bulletStep 6--Now have the group members discuss the song and their ideas.  They may replay the song and use the lyrics as much as necessary. The group must decide on one central message for             the song.

bulletStep 7--Give the group a sheet of posterboard and have them create a poster depicting the message of the song. The poster must have the title of the song.

bulletStep 8--When all groups have finished their posters, have them give a  presentation where they play the songs and explain their posters to the rest of the class.

Song Suggestions

Please note that some of the following songs have references to religion. I strongly advise that you read the lyrics very carefully before you use a song with your students.

At one time I had direct links to the lyrics for the songs listed below. However, the site that published the lyrics did so illegally.  (Shame on them!) Below are some links to sites that offer a few lyrics.  I hope that they are doing so without breaking copyright laws.  Good luck in your search. If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please send me an email message.

"Abraham, Martin and John" by Dion

"American Pie" by Don McLean

"At Seventeen" by Janis Ian

"Authority Song" by John Cougar

"Be Careful of Stones That You Throw" by Dion

"Big, Bad, John" by Jimmie Dean 

"Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan

"Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles

"Everybody Hurts" by REM

"From a Distance" by Bette Midler

"Hero" by Mariah Carey

"Imagine" by John Lennon

"In the Ghetto" by Elvis Presley

"Lady Madonna" by The Beatles

"Let It Be" by The Beatles

"Little Boxes" by Woody Guthrie

"One Tin Soldier" by Coven

"Revolution" by The Beatles

"The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel

"Stand By Me" by John Lennon

"Trouble Me" by 10,000 Maniacs

"We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel

"Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler

 

Links to Song Lyric Sites


Mel's Song Lyric Collection
Phil's Home Page--Meaningful Lyrics Area
INTERNATIONAL LYRICS SERVER

If you can't find what you are looking for at any of the above, try this site, which has several links to other song lyric sites.

Lyrical Links

The following cyberfriends from Teachers.Net deserve a big thank you for helping me with the song suggestions and lyric sites:

Sylvia/CA
Barb E. 9/MI
Evelyn/CA/9
ElizabethB.
Emmy/4/OK
Sheila/2/NC
Donna music/tn
Carleton

Visit M.U.S.I.C. Musicians United for Songs in the Classrooms, Inc.  You will find classroom activities, examples of student projects and written work, the stories behind several songs, a song directory and index, and more.

 

 

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This site last updated 14 November 2007.

External links last verified 2 September 2007.

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