Lyric analysis involves using existing songs to facilitate meaningful discussion in individual or group therapy. Analyzing song lyrics with adolescents can provide a sense of normalcy, facilitate an understanding of death, loss, and grief, and help them identify and express emotions in a more natural and comfortable way. Using contemporary and client-preferred songs is highly recommended particularly with adolescents, as their music is often an extension of who they are and how they view themselves in the world.
Tips for Lyric Discussion & Analysis Exercises:
- Always begin by asking your adolescent client what kind of music they like!
- It can be helpful to ease into music discussion & analysis by allowing the client to select some of their favorite songs to bring in
- Just keep in mind – depending on school policies, and if you are with a group, you may want to ask the client to bring in an edited version of their selected song(s)
- During and after listening to the song, you can spark a meaningful discussion by asking simple questions like:
- Why do you like this song?
- What does it mean to you?
- What do you think of when you hear it?
- The questions you ask are not as important as listening to the answers and then asking more questions, continuing to listen intently to the adolescent’s answers
- For more in depth song analysis, you can provide the client with the lyrics to accompany songs, encouraging them to actively listen and analyze the words of the song as the listen by underlining or circling words and phrases that stand out to them for further discussion
- For more structure and targeted song analysis exercises or sessions, ask the client to select from the songs you have identified for analysis in their preferred genre, and that relate to their life experiences
- You may want to print out handouts and workout sheets to facilitate your analysis and discussion around the themes and messages expressed in the song and how they might relate to the adolescent’s life
- Finally, it’s important to adopt an accepting and understanding approach to existing song analysis with teens – they may not always want to express their thoughts and feelings right away, sometimes the therapy is in simply listening and taking in the words and the experience together
See the ‘Session Ideas’ section – Session Idea #2 – for an example of a structured Song Analysis exercise!
Song Suggestions for Analysis & Discussion with Teens: