At all levels, music has a unique ability to bring people together and bring hope to a situation.

Now in its seventh year, the Dick and Jane Project is bringing both sentiments to schools throughout Columbus.

The Dick and Jane Project is a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring joy to middle schoolers through music writing and production.

Nick D'Andrea, a prominent figure on the Columbus music scene, has spearheaded the group's activity of late, recently taking over as its executive director.

"We go to schools that have low arts budgets and help them write and produce a radio-ready song from start to finish," D'Andrea said.

Each "workshop" lasts one week. Volunteers go into schools partnered with a class of students who are tasked with writing the lyrics and coming up with the "sound" of their song.

After recently partnering with Groove U, a music-career program in Dublin, the students now have the opportunity to use a fully equipped recording studio after writing the basis of their song in order to see their product be assembled.

"The kids get to see musicians in a context that says, 'Oh, this is a job,'" D'Andrea said.

Another aspect of the industry D'Andrea said was important for the students to see was the accessibility of the music they enjoy and the realization that they are capable of making radio-ready songs themselves.

"It's cool for them to see that these songs are just ... songs," D'Andrea said.

Other than bringing accessibility of the music industry to middle schoolers, the Dick and Jane Project helps bring together local producers and artists, making the nonprofit just as much a hub for music creation in central Ohio as a way for students to see how the process works.

"(The Dick and Jane Project) is so cool because it feeds the music community as much as it does the kids," D'Andrea said.

In the future, D'Andrea said, he hopes to make the workshops more frequent and involve more local artists and producers.

This past semester, the group conducted six workshops at six schools, and it hopes to eventually make the workshops weekly.

The Dick and Jane Project will hold a benefit concert featuring the George Barrie Band and several special guests at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at Woodlands Tavern, 1200 W. Third Ave. in Columbus. Tickets cost $25.

The benefit will raise donations for the next semester's workshops.

A collection of songs from the past semester also will be released at the event.

For more information about the Dick and Jane Project, go to

James Harker helps write the weekly In The Record Store column, which focuses on central Ohio music discovery and involvement.