Lesson Plan for Witness Video: “Juanes: Building Peace Through Music”*
Age: 12 and above (U.S. middle school grade 6 and above)
Rationale: Testimonials provide first-hand accounts of experiences that can help clarify complex concepts. This witness video introduces the notion of combining the arts and peacebuilding. Students listen to Colombian musician Juanes and learn about the power of using music to communicate a message. The lesson then asks students to research songs about peace and to design a concert for peace.
- To consider the potential of music as a vehicle for peacebuilding.
- To explore messages of peace and how to communicate a message effectively.
Time: Part 1: 20 minutes; Part 2: 45 minutes plus time for research
- “Juanes: Building Peace through Music” video
- Worksheet: Note-Taking for “Juanes: Building Peace through Music”
- Worksheet: Designing a Concert for Peace
- Teacher Resource: Background on Juanes
- Ask students to think about the role music plays in their lives. Have them share with a partner responses to the following questions:
- What type of music do you like to listen to and why?
- What do you like about this music? The sound? The lyrics?
- How do you feel when you hear a song that has lyrics about an important social issue? What are examples of songs you like that are about issues?
- Have a class discussion based on students’ responses to the questions.
- Introduce the musician Juanes using some of the information in the Teacher Resource: Background on Juanes. And explain that students are going to watch a video about Juanes and his work.
- Distribute the Worksheet: Note-Taking for “Juanes: Building Peace through Music” and review the questions with students.
- Show the video and lead a discussion using some or all of the following questions, incorporating the questions from the note-taking sheet into your conversation where appropriate.
- What led Juanes to turn his music into a message?
- What is powerful about hearing a message in a song?
- How can music be used to educate people?
- Explain to students that they will work in groups to identify an international issue that is important to them and then they will design a concert that will raise awareness of this issue.
- Divide students into groups and distribute the Worksheet: Designing a Concert for Peace. Review the elements of the worksheet.
- Have students identify an issue that is important to them and have them research musicians and bands who sing about and raise awareness of this issue.
- Have them complete the worksheet and present their concert design to the class.
- Next have students create a public service announcement (PSA) or poster advertising their concert. It must include the title of the concert, the logo, the slogan, a few bands and a few songs.
- Have each group present their PSA/poster and ask students in the class to decide which ONE concert they will attend as a class.
- Lead a class discussion using some or all of the following questions.
- How can the arts effectively communicate messages of peace?
- Why might the arts be a more effective vehicle for these messages?
- What did you learn about the bands/songs and their musical choices?
- What other forms of art can be used to build peace?
Worksheet: Note-Taking Sheet for “Juanes: Peacebuilding through Music”
Directions: Read the questions below. Watch the “Juanes: Peacebuilding through Music” video and answer the questions based on what you see and hear.
1. What messages does Juanes try to communicate through his music, and what motivated him to use music as a form of expression?
2. What advice does Juanes give to individuals who ask him how they can contribute to peace?
Worksheet: Designing a Concert
Issue addressed through the concert:
Concert Slogan (message you want the concert to convey):
List of Invited Singers/Bands and songs you want them to perform and why you selected them/their songs:
Teacher Resource: Background on Juanes
Juanes was born and grew up in Medellin, Colombia, a city with some of the richest and poorest populations in Colombia, and one of the most violent cities in the world. His hometown was wracked by drug violence on top of wars between guerrilla insurgents, government security forces, paramilitaries, and criminal gangs.
This culture of violence affected Juanes deeply. Having begun to develop a real love for music at an early age, he sought ways to express his feelings and his hopes through his songs, and to communicate about important issues to a broader audience.
Juanes started an organization called Fundaciόn Mi Sangre (My Blood Foundation) to draw attention to the problem of landmines in Colombia and in other places affected by conflict around the world. Through international performances, he raises awareness of the hidden threat posed by these weapons, and raises money for programs to support landmine survivors in Colombia.
Juanes also co-founded an effort called Paz Sin Fronteras (Peace without Borders) to unite people across borders and promote non-violent conflict resolution.
In 2008, tensions rose between Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, following a raid by Colombian armed forces on a rebel camp inside the border of Ecuador. The governments of Venezuela and Ecuador questioned this incursion and diplomatic ties were cut for a time. A concert organized by Paz Sin Fronteras on the border between Venezuela and Colombia brought together many tens of thousands of people in a call for peaceful resolution of conflicts in the region.
Juanes has received multiple international awards for his humanitarian work.