Songwriting in the classroom

Making Literature and History Come Alive through Songwriting

An Artist in Residence program for 3rd - 12th graders

My intention as a Teaching Artist is to cultivate students’ gifts and nurture their creative spark as they build confidence in their creative abilities. 

In these artist residencies, I collaborate with 3rd through 12th grade classroom teachers to design an arts-integrated program in which the students will write and perform songs.

This work is designed to help students discover new facets of themselves, to develop collaborative skills and have fun while learning!


  • Meets and implements Common Core and Tennessee state standards:  Music, ELA, Writing, Critical Thinking
  • Provides tactile and differentiated learning for kinesthetic learners
  • Connects students to the text in a new way, creating understanding on a deeper level
  • Integrates into existing curriculum; residency is designed in collaboration with classroom teacher
  • Introduces the fundamentals of songwriting structure: melody, rhyme, and rhythm
  • Explores and applies figurative language
  • Creates an opportunity for self expression  
  • Generates a safe space where students can take risks and build confidence
  • Stretches students beyond their comfort zone in a rewarding and fun way
  • Inspires students through group participation which increases accountability and builds community

What are SONGWRITING IN THE CLASSROOM Artist Residencies?

  • 1 to 5 sessions 
  • 45 - 60 minutes/class
  • ELA or Social Studies/History classrooms
  • 3rd - 12th grade


  • First we analyze songs and write as a whole group to learn some fundamentals of songwriting structure.
  • Students then work in small groups with a text from the Language Arts curriculum to integrate the writer's voice with their own to create original lyrics. 
  • Last, students will put their lyrics to songs they know or to original melodies we write together.

Through this process, students form a connection to the material and relate to the text in new ways that make it come alive.  As students work together in small groups, they build a community where it is safe to take creative risks. 

When we do interesting and enjoyable things like this, we actually want to learn and pay attention.”

— Senior, King Kekaulike High School, Maui, HI after writing a rap to Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew

We were like a family working together. We would improve nothing because today we came together as one.”

— Junior, King Kekaulike High School, Maui, HI after writing a rap to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night