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Selected 2021-2022 sixth- and seventh-grade songwriters included Nathan Taylor, "The Magical Lawn," William Stoller, "My 2022," Jesse Serota, "Take It Back!," Samantha Prager, "Sweatshirt," Quinn Hilliard, "Pizza," Isabella Cooper, "Kim is My Mom," and Kate Slaven, "Hurtful Words."

Some of the songs written by Middle School students in Shelton’s innovative “Words & Music” program were selected and recorded by professional songwriters Shane Adams and Paulina Jayne from the Country Music Hall of Fame. The goal of the program is to practice and improve students' creative writing skills through the use of songwriting. Each student wrote their own song lyrics utilizing the framework they learned during the 10-lesson curriculum. 

Shelton’s Words & Music program was developed when speech language pathologist Lauren Magee introduced Shelton to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Words & Music program, which involves 10 45-minute lessons that develop key skills in language arts while also focusing on social-emotional learning. The final project is writing a polished set of lyrics. Final lyrics were sent to the museum to share with two professional songwriters, who performed a selection of lyrics written by the students as finished songs in a 60-minute program.

“This class is important because it is a nontraditional avenue for our students to work on their language skills while creatively expressing their emotions and ideas," Magee says.

Aaron Helvig, Words & Music Program Manager for the Country Music Hall of Fame, says, “The goal is not to get everyone to be the next Taylor Swift. It’s about giving the students the opportunity to express themselves and instilling in them the desire to want to create and write and to have fun will doing it.”

On April 25, students videoconferenced with professional songwriters Shane Adams and Paulina Jayne to hear them play a selection of their songs. In addition, students in the program video-conferenced with Nashville singer-songwriter Matt Stell on April 11 to hear him describe the fundamentals of writing a song. “Creativity is the key to the modern world. The fact that you are different is not a drawback in a creative space. You are uniquely positioned to be creative. You should be empowered by that. Be creative, don’t be afraid to fail and the world is yours.”

Watch a video about the program here. Listen to the students' songs here.