Our Team | Lyrics2Learn

Teachers/ Writers


Teresa has been teaching for 19 years, and holds two masters degrees, one in arts integration and the other in technical media.  She works tirelessly to keep her classroom engaging, high energy, and holds students to high levels of accountability, thus the involvement with Lyrics2learn.  Teresa writes lyrics, edits, studies standards and questioning strategies, and uses L2L during classroom rotations and centers.

Teachers/ Writers


Jeremy is the creator of Lyrics2learn, and taught at the elementary level for 14 years.  Throughout those years he tutored, tested and piloted multiple progressive and traditional reading strategies.  He took pieces of those that were most effective, and presented them in a new way.  It worked so well, L2L was born.  With the help of fellow teachers,  Jeremy aims to improve the world through innovative, results-based improvements in education.

Developers/ Programmers


TopRock is a Denver, Colorado based full service web development company comprised of Internet marketing experts (seo, ppc), web designers, content writers, code writers and programmers.

Kajmir Royale

kajmir royale

Kajmir Royale is a rapper, producer, and songwriter with over 200 million downloads and placements. He has produced tracks featuring Wiz Khalifa, Kid Ink, Lecrae, Lil Wayne, T.I., The Game, and many more. He's worked with over 300,000 artists worldwide and wrote a 100,000 word rhyme dictionary.

Mike Will Downey

mike downey

Mike Will Downey is a writer and music publisher in California. He won the Minnie Hite Moodie Writers Award while a journalist for two years in Ohio. Downey has helped many charities and completed a mission trip with Save Our Youth in Juarez, Mexico. He founded Colorado-based sports startup PlayCoed.com and worked in community relations with the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rockies, and Denver Broncos. He has a B.S.C. from Ohio University and attended graduate school at the University of Denver, completing the Harvard ManageMentor Program.

Jon Herchert


Jon is a Minneapolis Music Producer and musician.  He has worked for non-profits such as Youth Frontiers, and owns his own label - Dark Pony Music.  Working with Youth Frontiers, Jon has seen and been a part of music's impact on today's youth for more than fourteen years.  His Lyrics2learn tracks are original, relevant and engaging.  "Grit" is a good example of this.  You can find more of Jon's music at www.darkponymusic.com, including his latest album - Suburban Serenade

Rob Arthur


Rob is a lifetime musician, performer and producer based in Florida.  He has toured and played with artists such as Brian Wilson, Five for Fighting, Peter Frampton, and many others.  Some of his L2L tracks include The Writing Process, Life Cycles, and Louie the Button Pusher.

Michael Nelson


From 2006 to the present Michael has been working as an independent producer/composer with production credits on over 50 albums including a #25 spot on the Billboard charts.  You can find more of his music at www.michaelnelsonmusic.com.

Donnie Thomassen


My name is Donnie Thomassen, and I write for Lyrics2Learn. If you’re rapping with this program, great knowledge you will earn. I’m so lucky to be teaching awesome girls and boys. Giving them lots of knowledge is like giving them endless joys.

How long have I been teaching? I'm in my 20th year! Helping kids to learn--that's what makes me cheer! So I'm honored and pleased to be on this amazing team! Making better readers is the lyrics2learn dream!

So keep on reading and having a blast! We'll keep on working and making you fast! If you'd like some more material that will certainly make you think, please feel free to visit the following link:


Diego Lopez


Diego is a Colorado Rapper appearing on Abe Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Monster in the Closet, Columbus, and more. He has contributed vocals for L2L since the beginning. As seen here, he was the star of our recent music video/classroom parody “Lyrics2learn - Rhythm Readers” part 1. His flow is liquid.

Kayla Rae Jackson


Kayla is a local musician and contributes vocals on multiple Lyrics2learn tracks. Some of her songs include Waffles, Determination, Attitude Control, and several others. Basically, Kayla can do anything, and we’re lucky to have her.

J.J. Farnham


J.J. is a songwriter, author, and country/bluegrass singer. He is kind enough to share his songs, and character based stories for the benefit of young readers around the world. All of Jay’s songs were written and produced by himself and his brother. He lives in Northern Vermont where he volunteers at schools, writes, and works to improve education and character for youngsters. You can see and purchase more from J.J. at- www.jjfarnham.com.

Devin Malloy


Devin has been producing music for six years.  He holds a drum/jazz studies major from UNC, bangs his drums for various musicians, and has performed around the world with various artists from Berklee College of Music.

Michael Farquharson


Mike is a bassist, writer, producer and engineer from Toronto, Canada. He moved to Boston in 1996 to take a position as Professor, Contemporary Writing and Production at Berklee College of Music. He has written, engineered, produced or performed on over 170 albums, 600 jingles and countless other TV, Radio and multi-media recordings and has recorded 5 solo albums. Mike advises and aids L2L’s engineering and recording.

George Russell


George W. Russell, Jr. is an educator with ties deeply rooted in his community. He is a Professor of Harmony at the Berklee College of Music, where he recently received the Distinguished Faculty Award (2012), as well as a Berklee Curriculum Award (2010), and the Ted Pease Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009). With L2L, George records, advises and helps spread the power of music to the world around him.

Why L2L was created

As teachers, it’s always challenging to find effective strategies that are easy to use, keep students engaged, accountable, and if possible, add a little fun to learning. The most successful way I’ve known this to work is through music, especially if it feels like something from the radio rather than a classroom. Kids not only hear it, they feel it, which is how we get to them; we provoke interest, excitement and emotion. Lyrics2learn can be integrated and utilized in every subject.

There’s also the “cool factor.” When I first started doing this in my classroom with third, fourth and fifth graders, I’d hear kids in the school entry way repeating the songs in little groups and circles. That wasn’t because they knew they were learning. It was because the music was new, hip and relevant. Thirty students participated in the first study, and 100% of the students not only enjoyed reading to music repeatedly and answering questions, but talked me into continuing the program for another three weeks. Several students woke up before their parents and walked to school by 7:15 to participate from February through March (Colorado winters did not deter!).

Basically, lyrics2learn was made for kids, teachers, and parents. It was made to give students an intense fluency and comprehension program that’s anything but typical or boring. It was made to take work off of teachers’ and parents’ plates by giving students a 15-20 minute, self-lead lesson providing real data and immediate feedback for students and teachers. It is a strategy that improves and pinpoints strengths and weaknesses in comprehension through many genres, both with and without music, all while instilling strong character lessons.

How it Works


L2L is designed to re-train the brain to see, process, and verbalize text more quickly. Each quarter, the stories are arranged by WPM (words per minute). Songs begin between 130-150 words per minute during the first week and increase each week thereafter. By week or lesson 6, the rate progresses to over 200 WPM for the challenge songs (see Abraham Lincoln sample). Students follow and read with the music, three times the first day, three times the second day and three times the third day. Typically, by the third day, each song is memorized and kids begin to re-train brains to recognize words automatically through listening, speaking and visually following the text. The memorization also builds background knowledge rapidly.

Before our eight week pilot, students had improved an average of 6 words per minute (as measured by DIBELS via homeroom teachers) from August to December. They then used Lyrics2learn three mornings per week for four weeks, took a two week break for state testing, and finished with another four weeks (comparable to one quarter). On average, kids increased their fluency by 18 words per minute, with some closing the learning gap by as much as 34WPM, tripling their previous rate of improvement.


My favorite part of this entire concept, and the new common core standards, are the Depth of Knowledge levels. DOK (Depth of Knowledge) 1, 2, and 3 are separated by levels of thought. DOK 1 is literal, straight from the story questioning. DOK 2 has, but is not limited to, paraphrasing, in context inference with vocabulary, central ideas, and may also involve problems and solutions. DOK 3 is more challenging and requires examination and support from the text. This may include higher level concepts such as point of view,significant events, comparing ideas, themes, and character traits. Typically, there are multiple correct answers, but to get full credit students must offer related support from the text. Even though L2L is meant to be used as a supplement, we hit the majority of concepts and ideas that covered in Common Core Standards. Because each lesson is done three times a week, the depth of knowledge level increases each day, again pushing students to connect on higher levels as they become more familiar with the text. Since the story is often memorized by day 3, students can think about the meaning behind the text rather than how to read and decode the sounds and words. Soon, this creates many “connection points” in the brain giving kids prior knowledge to connect to in every day reading and learning. They teach themselves to think and connect to text through lyrics rich with figurative language, valuable character lessons and many integrated concepts while accessing their long term memory (retention!) with music, rhythm, and rhyme. To relate, think of all the nursery rhymes you know, but never really tried to memorize. This is the same concept, but geared for today’s kids and applied to brain-based strategies to improving reading skills.