Words & Music

Teacher Resources, Grades 3-6

  • Program Length

    45-minutes, 10-lesson unit

  • grade levels


  • group size


  • curricular connections

    Language Arts, Music, Social Studies

  • select standards

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.2, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.W National Association for Music Education Standards 6-9

Words & Music: Teach Language Arts Through Lyric Writing helps students explore the art of lyric writing through ten complete lessons. Aligned with Common Core Standards, this interdisciplinary unit also can be tied to math, music, social studies, and visual arts.

The Words & Music unit is composed of ten 45-minute lessons. The lessons are cumulative, each one building on the next. The final project, writing a polished set of lyrics, combines everything students have learned in previous lessons. Final lyrics are sent to the museum to share with a professional songwriter, who will perform a selection of lyrics as finished songs in a 60-minute program.

Prior to teaching Words & Music for the first time, teachers are strongly encouraged to attend a Words & Music professional development workshop or webinar.

Teacher’s Guide for Grades 3-6



  • "Somebody's Daughter"
  • "Country Girl"
  • "On the Road Again”

    Written by: Willie Nelson
    Performed by: Willie Nelson
    [Time: 2:09]

  • "Forever and Ever, Amen”

    Written by: Paul Overstreet/Don Schlitz
    Performed by: Randy Travis
    [Time: 4:16]

  • "Love Hurts"

    Written by: Boudleaux Bryant Performed by: Everly Brothers

  • "Love Hurts"

    Performed by: Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris

  • "You Are My Sunshine”

    Written by Jimmie Davis/Charles Mitchell, Performed by: Ray Charles, [Time: 3:23]

  • "You Are My Sunshine"

    Performed by Jimmie Davis

  • "When You Say Nothing at All”

    Written by: Paul Overstreet/Don Schlitz
    Performed by: Alison Krauss
    [Time: 4:34]

  • Ride Out in the Country

    Written by: Dan Auerbach, Joe Allen, and Yola, Performed by: Yola, [Time: 3:15]

  • "Hungry Eyes"

    Written by: Merle Haggard, Performed by: Merle Haggard, [Time: 3:28]

  • "Man in Black”

    Written by: Johnny Cash
    Performed by: Johnny Cash
    [Time: 3:41]

  • "Coat of Many Colors”

    Written by: Dolly Parton
    Performed by: Dolly Parton
    [Time: 3:32]

  • “Pony Blues”

    Written by: Charley Patton
    Performed by: Charley Patton
    [Time: 3:00]

  • “Match Box Blues”

    Written by: Lemon Henry “Blind Lemmon” Jefferson
    Performed by: Blind Lemmon Jefferson
    [Time: 2:53]

  • “Beale Town Bound”

    Written by: Frank Stokes and Dan Sane
    Performed by: The Beale Street Sheiks
    [Time: 2:54]

  • “St. Louis Blues”

    Written by: W.C. Handy
    Performed by: Bessie Smith (featuring Louis Armstrong)
    [Time: 3:10]

  • "Trouble No More"

    Written by: McKinley Morganfield
    Performed by: Muddy Waters
    [Time: 2:41]

  • "Everyday I Have the Blues"

    Performed by Memphis Slim

  • "Everyday I Have the Blues"

    Performed by Count Basie

  • "Everyday I Have the Blues"

    Performed by B.B.King

  • "Everyday I Have the Blues"

    Performed by John Mayer

  • "Hound Dog"

    Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Performed by Big Mama Thornton

  • "Hound Dog"

    Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Performed by Elivs Presley

  • "Hound Dog"

    Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Performed by Etta James

Extension lessons expand student engagement with the songwriting craft. Extension lessons are intended for use as supplementary lessons with the whole class or small groups.

Songwriter Biographies

Students read brief songwriter biographies and research and write their own to increase their engagement with the craft. Use any time after LESSON 1.

Historical Connections

Students explore songs based on historical events and written from various points of view. Use any time after LESSON 4. Pairs best with LESSON 7.

2022-2023 Words & Music Funders

Words & Music is made possible by the Country Music Association Endowment for Words & Music and is funded in part by CMA; CMA Foundation; the Dinah and Fred Gretsch Family; Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission; Nashville Predators Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; and Tennessee Arts Commission.



Have Questions or Feedback?

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