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Playing For Change – Peace Through Music

June 22, 2012

Music is the language of the spirit. It opens the secret of life bringing peace, abolishing strife.

~Kahlil Gibran

Music is the universal language of mankind.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Most of us hear songs from our past and those melodies immediately bring back memories of where we were, who we were with, what we were doing, or how we were feeling. Sometimes we even remember historical events or periods of time that are connected to the music. Music helps us connect background knowledge and prior learning, so wouldn’t it be a useful tool in the classroom?

A couple of years ago, as I was preparing for an Elementary and Middle School Social Studies Methods course, I came across a new music CD with DVD that captured my attention, and I loved it – Playing for Change – Peace through Music.

According to the website:

Playing for Change – Connecting the World Through Music is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.

I used the music from the CD and videos from the website and DVD to create lesson plans and ideas for the social studies classroom .

Two songs I focused on were Stand By Me by Ben E. King and War (No More Trouble) by Bob Marley performed by Playing for Change.

Stand by Me Activity:

  • Listen to the song or watch the video for Stand by Me.
  • Draw a picture of a time you were standing by someone or someone stood by you? Write a sentence to describe the drawing.
  • Draw a picture of you standing by someone you don’t know. Write a sentence to describe the drawing. (Tell students the pictures will be compiled into a classroom Stand by Me Book.)









Until Activity for  War (No More Trouble)

  • Listen to the song and/or watch the video.
  • Write a new verse for the song, War/No more trouble. Add an illustration.
  • Make a classroom bulletin board or a class book.

These lesson plans and classroom ideas are included in this presentation handout.

Peace Through Music presentation_handout

Student Handouts

Stand by Me activity

Until activity

I will finish with the words of Woody Guthrie:

A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it


it could be

who’s hungry and where their mouth is


who’s out of work and where the job is


who’s broke and where the money is


who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is.

~Woody Guthrie

Peace. ~Linda

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