At St Catherine of Sienna Catholic Primary School Prestons, students created playlists of songs to inspire and give strength in the face of bullying.
Led by teachers’ Elizabeth Hiett and Ben Fuser, the ‘Anti-bullying through song’* Year 4 project gave the students the opportunity to look at the effects of bullying. It also allowed them to use technology and music as tools for empowerment to understand and express their feelings and emotions.
Using Spotify, an online digital music service with access to millions of songs, the students created a playlist of songs about the effects of bullying, supporting people who feel bullied or isolated and ones about what the world would be like if bullying didn’t exist.
They critically analysed the effectiveness of the song they had chosen and created a word list representing the emotions bullying creates. Other tasks included selecting a song to be part of a Google presentation, discussing their choice with a partner, creating an inspirational music video and sharing their learning in a class presentation.
In their presentation, Brandon, James and Nelson spoke about their song selection, ‘True Colours’ sung by Cyndi Lauper. They said it gave an inspirational message of hope to all those affected by bullying in the lyrics, ‘don’t be afraid to let your true colours show’.
The boys identified words and phrases such as ‘sad eyes’, ‘you feel small’, ‘discouraged and mistreated’ in the song, which relate to the impact of bullying.
‘… understanding emotions using song gave the students’ feelings a voice… – Liz Hiett, Performing Arts teacher
Jaden, Joshua P and Filip spoke about their song choice, ‘Annotation’ by rapper Leondre Devries and singer Charlie Lenehan.
“The hidden message is, ‘don’t bully others if you don’t want others to bully you’ “, the boys said.
Teacher Liz Hiett said music is an important part of the students’ lives, so giving them the opportunity to listen to songs, analyse them and present them was very motivating.
“From the dawn of time and in every culture in the world, music is used as a form of expression,” she said.
“It touches our soul, has the power to make us move, cry, laugh and bring us together in a way no other medium can. So understanding emotions using song gave the students’ feelings a voice as sometimes when we don’t have the right words, we turn to music.
Ms Hiett said it also encourages an inclusive and supportive environment for the students which allows them to feel empowered, which is a vital component in developing resilience and communication.
Since the completion of the project, the students have continued to use the anti-bullying playlist for use in class reflections, meditation and performances, and to improve focus and engagement when completing class work. They also request certain songs to express the way they are feeling with ‘One Call Away’ by Charlie Puth, a class favourite. The lyrics are also used in literacy projects, performance opportunities and conflict resolution.
*’Anti-bullying through song’ is an Authentic Learning through the Performing Arts (ALPA) project.