Tapestry of Faith: Virtue Ethics: An Ethical Development Program for High School Youth

Activity 3: Whistle a Happy Tune

Part of Virtue Ethics

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Songs about courage, and music player(s)
  • Optional: A computer with Internet access

Preparation for Activity

  • Obtain recordings of songs that inspire bravery and courage, and appropriate music players. (Optional: Print lyrics for all participants.) Many songs can be streamed from the Internet on YouTube and other websites. Here are suggestions:

    • “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson
    • “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” by Kelly Clarkson
    • “This Is It” by Kenny Loggins
    • “Never Say Never” by Justin Bieber
    • “Get Up, Stand Up” by Bob Marley
    • “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom” by India Arie
    • “If I Had a Hammer” by Pete Seeger
    • “Courage Is…” by The Strange Familiar
    • “I Won’t Back Down” by Eddie Vedder
    • “Yes, We Can” by Will.i.am, of the Black Eyed Peas.
    • Tunes from cartoons and musicals, for example “Be a Man” from Disney’s Mulan, “Whistle a Happy Tune” from The King and I, “If I Only Had the Nerve” from The Wizard of Oz, and “I Know Where I’ve Been” from the movie Hairspray.
    • Songs from the Civil Rights movement, such as “We Shall Overcome”
    • Songs of the Vietnam War protest era, such as Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin’” and Phil Ochs’ “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”
    • Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” which puts forth a broad, inclusive patriotism.

Description of Activity

Youth explore how music can inspire bravery and courage.

Explain that while bravery is not the same thing as courage, being courageous often requires one to act bravely-and being brave is not easy.

Ask everyone to think of a time they felt afraid to do something, but were brave. Allow a couple of minutes. Then, ask:

  • What helped you be brave? [Affirm answers.]
  • Has music ever helped you feel brave? [Take responses.]

Now ask the group if they can think of instances where people have used music to inspire bravery or courage? If no one gives these examples, talk about:

  • the use of freedom songs and spirituals during the Civil Rights movement
  • the songs sung at anti-war protests and pro-justice rallies
  • trumpet, flute, drum, and other music that accompanies armies.

Play the songs you have brought. Distribute lyrics, if you have brought copies. Invite the group to discuss how each song encourages bravery or courage through its lyrics, instrumentation, and beat. What particular parts of each song are especially moving?


  • Do you have any songs that inspire you to bravery?
  • Do you know any songs that inspire you to be a better person?