Ep. 138: Classroom STEAM integration through music production & songwriting; with Writers Room U

Music production classes

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Learn how schools are organically integrating STEAM education while differentiating their innovative offerings… and within their budget parameters. We discuss the benefits of bringing music production & songwriting into the classroom; why it’s such a hit with students, parents, and teachers alike; and resources to get started in your school.


Joining me today from Nashville are two guests from Writers Room U. Dr. Kelley King is the Education Liaison at Writers Room U. She is a K-12 educator with over 35 years of experience in both public and private schools, including 20 years as a school principal. Kelley is the author of three books and her work in schools has been featured on The Today Show, National Public Radio, and in Newsweek magazine.

Dr. Kelley King

Also with me today is Emily Falvey. Emily is the Music Industry Liaison at Writers Room U and is an award-winning Nashville singer/songwriter. She is signed to an exclusive worldwide publishing deal; wrote a song that reached #1 on the Canadian country chart. Emily teaches songwriting classes and leads WRU’s recruitment of top music industry professionals.

Emily Falvey


We discuss:

  • How I discovered Writers Room U (WRU).
  • What is WRU? WRU brings professional songwriters, artists, and producers from Nashville and LA into K-12 classrooms virtually to teach students about all aspects of the music industry – songwriting, music production and music business.
  • Benefits of bringing these music production and songwriting classes into schools include:
    • Engagement of those students who are not going to be a good fit for the traditional school band/orchestra/choir programs.
    • Literacy development
    • Versatility: The creations of music production students can be used in a variety of ways across the school – for theatrical productions, choral performances, recording the school song, half-time shows, student assemblies, and more.
    • STEAM education
    • Career exploration
    • Parent satisfaction
    • Innovative school programming empowers schools to attract and retain students, recruit outstanding teachers, and distinguish itself from others in a competitive school choice market.
    • Uniting of students and departments: These classes bring music students into technology and technology students into music. When that happens, two distinct groups of students and educators come together to learn and collaborate in ways that they might not have otherwise. What better way to prepare students for the real world than working on an interdisciplinary project with a diverse team to create a product for an authentic worldwide audience?
  • How it works: Programs are customized for each school and grade. With that said, students typically meet with their music industry guest teacher once a week for 6-8 weeks via Zoom. Students write multiple songs together, one of which is recorded by a WRU producer. WRU also offers one-time music industry panels to teach students about the many different career opportunities in the music industry.
  • Costs involved in starting a music production class in general, and in bringing in WRU specifically. (Spoiler alert: Big investments are not needed!)
  • WRU’s top four recommendations for schools
  • The next exciting offering coming from WRU!

Connect/Other Resources

Other episodes we mentioned or that you may enjoy:

In-Episode Promo

This is a quick break to tell you about Songtrust. Did you know there is an estimated $250 million in unclaimed royalties?! Songtrust is the world’s largest royalty collection service – it helps artists know what royalties they’re owed, and collects them for you so that YOU, the artist, can focus on creating and producing—not administrating. With Songtrust, you can register your songs quickly, in ONE place. Songtrust will then collect all royalties you’re owed from over 50 global pay sources. Songtrust represents over 350,000 songwriters — this includes Grammy winners AND brand new, up-and-coming songwriters. Songtrust is currently offering Enhance Life with Music listeners 20% off your registration fee. Just use the code ENHANCELIFE20 at checkout. You can check them out at songtrust.com. While you’re there, you’ll see another reason I’m a fan – Songtrust is great at explaining the very complicated music publishing world! They offer a ton of free educational resources, including virtual workshops, a blog, and the Modern Guide to Music Publishing. Go to songtrust.com, and remember to use the code ENHANCELIFE20 to get 20% of your registration fee.


Emily shares a demo and a story about the impact of songwriting in the lives of the K-12 students who take WRU classes. One of WRU’s songwriting teachers, Forrest Finn, wrote this song with a group of 5th graders called “School Is Cool,” which is an example of the collaborative process of professional songwriter + class of elementary schoolers. Forrest is an awesome instructor and as a result, so many students now have songwriting as a tool in their toolbox. It’s powerful to watch songwriting impact lives! 

Forrest Finn performing the song that students wrote via telecast at their graduation.

Closing Words

And that is a little bit of “School is Cool,” written by a group of 5th graders, and performed by Forrest Finn, one of WRU’s songwriting teachers. Thank you so much to Emily and Kelley for joining us today, and for the valuable resources they shared and offer to schools. As always, all the resources we mention in our conversation can be found in the show notes, including a link to the episode with Beth Slusher, who introduced me to Writers Room U. Beth and the Give a Note Foundation are more incredibly valuable resources for schools and educators, so be sure to the check that episode out (Ep. 90). Also in the show notes are links to more episodes you may enjoy, including

You may already know that all Enhance Life with Music episodes can be found listed by category so you can quickly find topics most related to your interests. Today’s show notes have a link to the Education & Community category, so you can find other episodes most related to this topics. The other 3 categories are:

…and can be found by going to the Archives page of my website.

If you know of an educator – teacher, administrator – who would enjoy this episode, please share with them – directly or on social media! It’s easy to do right in your podcast listening app – each app is a little different. In Apple podcasts, just tap the three dots and then Share Episode. That will give you options to share by text, email, social media, and more. If you use another podcast app, just Google “share podcast episode on [podcatcher name]” for specific instructions. And of course you can always share the show notes website as well.

As always, you can connect with me on email (mindy@mpetersonmusic.com), Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 

Thank you so much for joining me today. Until next time, may your life be enhanced with music.

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