Ben Montgomery Explains Importance Of “Wish Song”

Author makes a case for a strong thesis

March 31, 2023

Journalist and author Ben Montgomery gave an enthusiastic lecture on the importance of a “wish song” in Disney movies.

Montgomery is a New York Times bestselling author, former reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and has taught journalism at various universities. 

Montgomery began this workshop by asking students to think about what their favorite Disney movie is, then asked them to share it with peers. Next, he had the students think about what the main character wanted in the movie, and when that desire started. Montgomery told us specifically to think about what the wish song is.

Montgomery explained that the “wish song” takes place at the beginning of the movie and represents the protagonist’s desires. He emphasizes that without a “wish song,” most movies don’t feel as complete.

To prove his theory, Montgomery had students share their favorite Disney movie, then he played the wish song from that movie on the board. For example, one student said their favorite Disney movie was “Moana”, so he played “How Far I’ll Go.”

To further engage the audience, Montgomery asked the students to sing along and offered whoever sang the best a signed copy of his bestselling book “A shot in the moonlight.” His book was on display at the front of the room for everyone to see, and motivated students to sing even better than they had been.

After he played Moana’s “wish song,” I looked around the room and noticed multiple students having epiphanies. They didn’t realize how prevalent the “wish song” was in Disney movies, but this lesson taught them all about it.

Previously, many thought the character just follows along the plot, but really the character goes on an adventure after its desires are outlined in the wish song.

Montgomery tied this lesson back into everyday writing- how you have to clearly state the purpose of your writing, most likely found in the thesis statement. Without a strong thesis that clearly shows the motivations or reasons, the story will not be strong.

He cleverly used Disney movies to display this important lesson of the “wish song,” making it easier to understand while also making it entertaining for students.By associating Disney with writing he put a twist on how writing can be “fun” and can be used creatively, opposed to how most students see writing as just required for school.

His thoughtfully crafted workshop showed the importance of the “wish song” while tying it into everyday writing, to help students write better. This workshop struck a chord with how many students can write better, by just emphasizing the main purpose of their writing. 


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