By Michael Souders, Composer and Teacher
I once heard a television host say, “If we could just teach our children two things—to be honest and to do what they say they’re going to do—it could transform the future of our nation.” This thought moved me in such a way that I decided to start writing songs to support the teachers in our schools who are educating their students about character.
Of course, character training begins and ends at home, but teachers are with their students for many hours per week. Our influence in their lives is undeniable. Peter Parker (Spiderman) was once told these wise words by his uncle: “With great power comes great responsibility.” As teachers, we are given much power and influence in the development and maturation of our students. And to truly prepare them to interact with the world as adults, it is not only valuable to develop the next science genius, literary superstar, or musical prodigy, but it is incumbent on us to chime in when we are able to support and encourage healthy and strong character development in our students.
Good character qualities (such as good judgment, kindness, courage, perseverance, responsibility, self-discipline, integrity, and respect) are often difficult to define. Sometimes the best thing to do is to talk/sing about situations in which someone would demonstrate a particular trait. This is a moment in which a song can be amazingly powerful in supporting and enhancing the subject! In each verse, there is time to develop a story or a situation that will clearly demonstrate the particular character quality. The concept can then be reinforced through a catchy and repetitive chorus.
Catchy songs are very effective in helping students “gain, retain, and engrain” information. And Alfred Music’s new musical Character Street is chock-full of them. This 30-minute musical is a great vehicle for teaching important life lessons. It’s a resource for music teachers and classroom teachers alike, as you seek out new and fun ways to help students learn and grow in their understanding of what good character is all about.