Words & Music

Teach Language Arts Through Lyric Writing

Teacher Resources, Grades 3-6

  • Program Length

    45-minutes, 10-lesson unit

  • grade levels

    3-6

  • 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

About Words & Music

Welcome to Words & Music: Teach Language Arts Through Lyric Writing. This unit plan helps your class 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 lessons in this guide are designed to encourage collaborative, exploratory learning that can be tailored to a variety of learning styles and levels. Whenever possible, students should be encouraged to try new ideas and share them with one another.

The Words & Music unit is composed of ten 45-minute lessons. The lessons are cumulative, each one building on the next, so none should be skipped. 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 select a few works to set to music. Ultimately, students will hear the songwriter perform some lyrics as finished songs.

Though lyric writing is short-form creative writing, it requires no less ability than any other kind of creative writing. Of course, it also is just part of the task of songwriting, along with musical composition. Students will gain a firsthand knowledge of the skill necessary to craft art that is memorable, evocative, and appealing—a skill that, in the hands of a seasoned lyricist, can create great music.

Prior to teaching Words & Music for the first time, teachers are strongly encouraged to attend a Words & Music professional development training. For a list of upcoming trainings, please visit countrymusichalloffame.org or email schools@countrymusichalloffame.org.

Teacher’s Guide for Grades 3-6

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Lessons

  • "Somebody's Daughter"
  • "Country Girl"
  • "You Are My Sunshine”

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

  • "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]

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.

Music Production Careers

Students investigate the various careers in the music industry (with focus on music production) by researching their favorite songs.Use any time after LESSON 8.

Have Questions or Feedback?

Email us any questions you have while preparing, and don’t forget to fill out the post-teaching feedback survey.

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