Written Report How Music Motivates

6, 7, 8

Students will form conclusions regarding the motivational effects of music on the mind and the importance of performing community service.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • describe how music motivates us in our everyday lives.
  • describe the motivational role the “freedom songs” played in the Civil Rights Movement.
  • explain how music affects the mind.
  • evaluate the importance of service to the community.
  • Class copies of Music of the Civil Rights Era, 1954-1968 (Handout One)
  • Rubrics for Music Research Paper (Handout Two)
  • Classical music CD (see Bibliography)
  • Class copies of Title Page Sample (Handout Three)
  • Recording of the song We Shall Overcome
Home Connection 

Ask students to talk with the adult about how music affects their every day lives, moods, and over-all well being. Talk about when and where they hear music during the day. Ask them if certain types of music make their moods change. Ask if certain types of music may affect them at work, at home, in the car, at a restaurant, the doctor’s office, at church, or during recreational activities.

  • For a Summer Evening. Universal # 470036, 2002. Audio CD.
    ASIN: B0000065VC0
  • “Music and Language.” Chris Dobrian, 1992. Go to: http://www.arts.uci.edu/ and type in “dobrian chris.” Click on “Music and Language.”
  • “The Effects of Music on the Mind: Beyond Soothing the Savage Beast.” Kristian David Olson, Feb. 22, 1996. http://www.bobjanuary.com/musicmnd.htm [no longer available]
  • “Music and How It Affects Our Lives.” ENERGYPowr http://wiseoracle.com/oasis/August99/Pjac899.html [no longer available]
  • Goldman, Peter. Civil Rights: The Challenge of the Fourteenth Amendment. New York: Conrad-McCann, Inc., 1970. ISBN: 0698200241
  • Steiner, Rudolph and Eileen J. Southern. Music of Black Americans: A History, 3rd Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1997. ISBN: 0393971414


  1. Anticipatory Set:Teach the class the words to “We Shall Overcome” (see Handout One). Ask the class to stand in a circle with arms crossed, hands linked, and bodies rocking from side to side while singing the song.

  2. Play short examples of musical selections such as:

    • Brahms Lullaby
    • Pachabels’ Canon in D
    • Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major
    • JS Bach’s Pasacaglia and Fugue in C Minor
    • Mannheim Steamroller’s Fresh Air
    • Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
    • Ask students to think about how their moods change with each of the pieces.
    • Ask students how music affects their everyday lives, moods, and over-all well being.
    • Discuss how music motivated people in the Civil Rights Movement.
    • Discuss how music motivates people in our present day society, and how music is used at times of national celebration and tragedy.
  3. Reflect upon the performance for the community group and think about how this may have affected the audience in a philanthropic way. Did this form of community service serve the common good? How do students feel about the necessity for them to work for the common good in some way?

  4. Assign a two-page, double-spaced, typed paper on “How Music Motivates.”

    • Require a title page and a bibliography.
    • See Title Page Sample (Handout Three).
    • The paper should total four pages.
    • Go over Rubrics for Music Research Paper (see Handout Two) with students for required language arts elements.
    • Ask students to include their personal conclusions about the topic.

Every student will verbally tell the class how he/she feels music affects his/her every day life, moods and over-all well being. This presentation will be done with note cards which will then be handed in to the teacher for assessment purposes.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.