Stand By Me

April 07, 2009, 5:26 p.m. (ET)

Just back from National AAHPERD Convention, big success, thousands of PE teachers learning new ideas, and will share that in a separate blog.  I spent most my time with the Brazilian Director of Coaching Education and another Brazilian coach, and got caught up in their samba music and this led me to share one of my all time team building songs for a group - including volleyball teams. It is the song "Stand By Me," which is sung together as a group, regardless of singing skill. Everyone knows the lyrics, and you can change the song to "teammate teammate" or "partner partner" (just like Timo did with Pumba).  With the power of YouTube now, the impact of this song in the whole of humanity can be seen on many levels. Ben E. King wrote it and while you likely know the lyrics, just to be sure, they follow.  The movie Stand By Me is a must see by any boys team, and really, any team of kids, and this first link shows both Ben King singing (as it is always important to see the original artist performing when possible), along with clips from the movie.

When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we see
No I won't be afraid
No I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling stand by me
Oh, now, now, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountain should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry
No I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darling, darling stand by me
Oh, stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me
Oh, now, now, stand by me
Oh, stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darling, darling stand by me
Stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

When the movie "The Lion King" came out and our beloved doubles volleyball team of Pumba and Timon sang the song,

it became a Kessel household hit, and brought a song from the 1960s, into the new century and the lives of my own kids.

I have a collection of the song being sung by many others on my hard drive as videos, and as a team exercise, showing some of these can bring the history of this song and some performers.

To see John Lennon performing it,

then his son Julian... and then

Enrique Iglesias, son of the gifted Julio Iglesias.... Well, you just get to see the power of genetics...

Then get a whole club to sing it - just like this group from the BBC, and the Boys Don't Sing choir - weaving in the song "Beautiful Girls" as well

The BEST version however, I saw this past fall, when Mark Johnson's clip of this song appeared on PBS, and while several versions of this great compilation can be seen there, the original and the whole project's scope and impact can be seen at  Rather than explain the project myself, I will let a short excerpt from Mark's blog give you a bit more insight, and urge you to go read more about it at their website.  Sport impacts lives as well, but we are competitive in the end on the court - and cooperative off. In all my travels, I always ask the players in the country I am visiting "What are the top five best songs for me to take home from your country?" We go out and work to find them, or they give them to me on a CD as a parting gift. The gift of music is powerful for sport.

Director's Vision

November 6th, 2008

Playing for Change - Peace Through Music is a documentary film that demonstrates that MUSIC will change the world and help bring us all peace. The film features over 100 musicians and includes live performances of music ranging from native Indian reservations to South African Townships to performances in the Himalayan Mountains. Music has always been an integral part of the identity and expression of various cultures on this planet.  However, music's greatest power is its ability to transcend cultural boundaries and connect us as a Human Race.

The first event that triggered the idea of "Playing For Change - Peace Through Music" occurred 10 years ago in a New York City subway station.  I was headed to work one morning, and while in the subway I witnessed a musical performance of two monks painted all in white from head to toe.  They were wearing brown robes and one of them was singing in a foreign language while the other man played a nylon guitar.  I remember seeing about 200 people of different cultures, races and genders, stop and listen to the music.  Everyone there was so moved by the performance even though I can't imagine many of us knew what they were singing about.  It occurred to me that in this moment in time was a strong sense of human connection and the ability to overcome our differences as people.  I decided right then and there that music is the key to a better world. I also realized it was my calling to go out and find as many of these inspiring human moments as possible.

The documentary will be very, very good as a team building exercise. Should be out soon!   Meanwhile, it is lacrosse season here too, as both my kids play JO volleyball along with LAX in the spring. I coached both my children in lacrosse from elementary ages through junior high - it was a sport I played at Colorado College back in the 1970s when it was wooden sticks. My son Cody has gone from HS varsity goalie as a freshman to varsity attackman this year, while McKenzie made the varsity team as a freshman this year. So the same principles of making it gamelike, appropriate coaching, lots of contacts per hour, etc., worked well in building players in that team sport too, as it is about making it fun, playing a lot and learning technique while you play.  You can see what JPLproductions has done for those two positions.

Anyone doing a great job like these below for Volleyball? Anyone have the time to help us compile highlights for defenders/servers/blockers/attackers?  We would love to see it here at USA Volleyball!

Tribute to the Game Changers - Lacrosse Goalies, using the song "I Put On" by Jeezy Tribute

Best of 2009 Lacrosse, using the "For the Love of the Game" by Pillar song -

Best from 2005-2008, using the song "Wake up Call" by Colourslide -

Inside LAX TV has a clip worth sharing - not something we can do in our sport but look at it from the point of view of learned behavior patterns and creativity, if you have never seen it before... (meanwhile I would hope we can soon have an inside VB TV station on the USAV website)

So today's blog is a bit bandwidth intensive, but we would love to hear from you on other ways to build your team, with or without music or pictures, in the comments below.  Please share your thought will all!  Good luck in Regionals which are coming up for all....

Addendum on Thanksgiving Day 2011... Playing for Change continues to create and film new episodes, now up to over 50 choices, and this one, a special Stand by Me tribute to Japan, is one heckuva great had to add/share it today, giving thanks to all who help us grow the game together...

John Kessel