In my seventh grade music course, we focus on songwriting and creating a class song. One way we prepare for this is with our "Song of the Day." Throughout the trimester, the first activity in class is for two students to share a song that means something special to them. While listening quietly and attentively, all the students are tasked with coming up with one or two things that they enjoy about the song. The focus is on saying something descriptive and positive. After the song is finished, at least three people share their thoughts about what they enjoyed.
This activity helps the students get to know each other in a meaningful way, while also teaching them to respect and admire different kinds of music that they might not otherwise choose. The resulting discussions include lyrical content, instrumentation, social context, cultural appropriation, originality, and more. Students get used to the idea that their preferences not only might be different from their peers, but also that their tastes are not better or worse … just different!