Discipline Music
Class Type General Music
Grade Level MS
Teacher Objectives

• The primary goal of this lesson is to learn the song “Lean on Me,” and be able to sing it or play it on an instrument. 

Other important goals include: 

• Singing or playing “Lean on Me” to honor local/community health care workers or first responders during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

• Listening to the song/analyzing the lyrics to allow musicians to further connect emotionally with the music and the artist’s creative influence. 

• Posting on Youtube/social media utilizing #LeanOnUs to show the world how united musicians/artists can be during a time of crisis, and how artists can unite community. 

• Reflection on how being involved with music is a catalyst for lifelong service and well-being. 

• Modeling gratitude through artistic expression to demonstrate the impact of music upon individuals and community. 


Music Standards SEL Connections/Competencies 

• NCAS #3 – Refine and complete artistic work. 

• NCAS #4 – Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation. 

• NCAS #6 – Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work. 

• NCAS #8 – Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work. 

• NCAS #11 – Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding. 

• Self-Awareness – 2. Recognize the impact of one’s feelings and thoughts on one’s own behavior. 

• Self-Management – 5. Understand and practice strategies for managing one’s own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. 

• Social Awareness – 8. Recognize and identify the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others. 

• Responsible Decision Making – 14. Evaluate personal, ethical, safety, and civic impact of decisions. 

• Relationship Skills – 16. Utilize positive communication and social skills to interact effectively with others. 


Essential Questions Enduring Understandings 

How does the awareness of one’s strengths, limitations, feelings, and thoughts influence the generation of creative ideas? (SA/CR) 

Recognizing the impact of one’s feelings and thoughts may influence the creative process. Managing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors is an integral part of the generation, refinement, and completion of creative ideas. The artist’s intent will influence to what degree the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others are considered. 

How does social awareness influence the criteria that artists use to select, prepare and present/perform/ produce artistic works? (SoA/PR) 

Artists consider a variety of viewpoints and make choices about the selection and performance/ presentation/production of artistic works by considering cultural, historical, and social perspectives of the intended audience. 

In what ways does an artist consider personal, ethical, safety, and civic impact when making decisions as part of the creative process? (RD/CR) 

Artists consider the impact of decisions made during the creative process. 

How do choices made in the process of preparing and presenting/performing/producing artistic works affect the intended impact on the audience? (RD/ PR) 

Artists develop practices for decision making that enable them to realize their creative work in constructive ways. 

Lesson Description

Objective: Students will:

• Discuss and reflect on the power that music has in and on our community. 

• View the short video then describe what influenced the artist Bill Withers to write “Lean on Me”. 

• Perform “Lean On Me” as a vehicle for expressing gratitude to healthcare professionals and first responders. 

• Identify gratitude in their own lives. 

• Describe how being involved with music is a catalyst for lifelong service. 

Lesson Procedures

Lesson Procedures 

• Opening Question: In what ways does an artist consider personal, ethical, safety, and civic impact when making decisions as part of the creative process? 

• Play short video of Bill Withers, then revisit opening question 

• Play Bill Withers song “Lean on Me” Give students a copy of the lyrics. Students should answer the following questions: What is this song about? What lyrics or lines from the song support your answer? What mood does this music create? What emotions are you meant to feel while listening to this song? 

• Students will practice performing “Lean on Me” 

• Students will perform “Lean on Me” and complete a written reflection 

• Students may share their performance 

Materials and Resources

Music Resources




YouTube Playlist


Key Vocabulary Gratitude, Social Impact, Community, Melody, (music vocabulary can be adapted)
Lesson Extensions

Performance: Practice and perform the song with others in your family or community.

Non-Performance: Make a video collage and share with first responders to express gratitude.


Students perform Lean on Me and respond to Reflection Questions: 

• What did you learn about factors that influence how artists create new work? 

• How did you feel while analyzing the lyrics of “Lean on Me “? 

• What emotions do you hear in “Lean on Me “? 

• What messages or emotions do you hope to translate to others when you share the song? 

• Were the emotions different in your version? 

• How did you channel your emotions into your work/performance? 

• What creative choices did you make to personalize your performance? 

• Why did you make those choices? 

• How can you apply what you learned with “Lean on Me” to learning new songs in the future? 

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Posted in on September, 2020

illuminating the intersection between arts education and social emotional learning