FEATUREJune 2021

SDJA Expands Innovative Music Initiative

Young woman listening to music

A music initiative started at the San Diego Jewish Academy (SDJA) has been duplicated by schools nationwide in elementary, middle and high schools. SDJA recently announced an expansion of their current songwriting program to include additional sessions that will lead to students writing an original song for their June graduation ceremony.

“Nash@SDJA started as a unique and innovative idea at San Diego Jewish Academy and has gone on to produce a nationwide movement of inspiring schools and musicians from Los Angeles to Massachusetts,” said Kelley King of SDJA. “When other schools were asking for ideas to teach music, I shared what we did at SDJA and the idea took off from there. Within just a few months, educators from across the country were bringing songwriters into their own schools. It’s been a thrill to see this program spread like wildfire.”

Nash@SDJA — now known as Writers Room U to schools across the country — brought professional songwriters and artists from Nashville to work with SDJA students over the first six weeks of the school year. Students learned about the writers/artists, their career paths, the music industry, and about the craft of composing lyrics and music. They heard the artists perform their original music and students in grades 2-5 wrote their own songs.

San Diego Jewish Academy’s initiative has inspired songwriting opportunities for students across the country. A YMCA on the East Coast is offering songwriting in their after-school program and is planning to expand it into their summer programs. A Jewish day school in Los Angeles ran the program in grades 4-6 earlier in the year and have now extended it to help 6th graders write songs for their June graduation ceremony. The Connections Academy, a national K-12 online school, has incorporated the model into their elementary, middle, and high school classes. A nationwide songwriting competition is being launched this summer for students, grades K-12. The competition is in partnership with a major music manufacturing company and a major label artist.

While the core program continues to be songwriting, the concept has been expanded by two high schools to include programs for high school students that specialize in music production and business of the music industry.

Some of the featured songwriters include Dylan Brady, Dawson Anderson, Micah Premnath, Kevin Bard, and Emily Falvey. There is a wait list of songwriters that want to be involved with the program now and large music organizations that want to set up partnerships.

“We are so excited that now, with the help of Writers Room U and some inspiration from a sister school in LA, we are offering a bonus experience for our fifth graders — Nash@SDJA 2.0,” continued King. “Our two fifth grade classes will each write an original song for their graduation ceremony in June. What the fifth graders don’t yet know is that the songwriters will be giving a surprise live performance at the ceremony! We are so grateful that the learning and joy of songwriting has helped our students navigate the challenges of the pandemic with continued openness and optimism.”


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