"Songs 4 Cause" is an initiative for social change and positive expression that uses music to build critical thinking skills. Instructors encourage students to think by examining, evaluating, and challenging the assumptions, premises, interpretations, and evidence that others have taken for granted. By combining philanthropy with entertainment, we provide a benefit to both those in need and those who contribute resources towards solutions. The pairing of music and social causes creates a perfect harmony with the power to create long-lasting, emotional connection with listeners and the student artists. "Songs 4 Cause" helps organizations harness the power of the marketplace by helping them accomplish charitable goals while simultaneously challenging students to critically analyze and deconstruct lyrics both within a historical context and as applied to current social problems.
Listening to music is an emotional and educational experience that potentially shapes an individual’s values, actions, and worldview. Creating the music that inspires becomes a therapeutic exercise that aids youth in discussing personal issues and helps them self-actualize their role in the solution of problems that affect their community and the world. Music can be a fresh, innovative teaching tool that inspires students at every level of education and across many different disciplines. For example, Elvis Presley Enterprises (2009) provided an online lesson plan to teach students “about the life of Elvis Presley and how he overcame poverty … [and] the importance of setting their own goals and dreams” (p. 1). The plan includes listening to two of Elvis’ songs, Confidence and If I Can Dream, and analyzing the lyrics for messages about setting goals. In IEA’s programs we use similar approaches to this method, while using more current popular artists enables us to connect with the youth on a more culturally relevant basis. After students listen to these songs, we facilitate a discussion about the messages in the lyrics. We use this as a warm up and ice breaker to bridge the lesson into the project of them creating their own “Song for Cause” and addressing the issues they care about and relate to the most.