Lyric Analysis Ideas for Music Therapists

 by Miranda Rex, MT-BC


One of my favorite things I learned during my internship at the Austin State Hospital was creating supplemental activities to pair with my lyric analysis interventions.

We would sing or listen to the song, analyze and discuss the lyrics, then do a writing or an art activity to make the topic more tangible and afford our persons served the opportunity to concretize their thoughts. These are two supplemental lyric analyses I created during my internship.

Keep reading for a free downloadable guide of this post!



Song #1: “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World

You can find the lyrics here and the guitar tab here.

In discussing the lyrics, we made a point about what it means to be in the middle. Is it good? Bad? What comes before or after? Do you give up or keep going?

The supplemental material is a bridge. We printed it on 8×14 paper to give it some extra length.


When we passed it out during the session, we had it folded a specific way.

I like for the clients involved to pick 4-5 different colors for each part of the activity.

On the left hand side, the clients write down at least three goals in one color.

Next comes the right side in another color: where are they now? What is stopping them from reaching those goals?

Then we open the flaps and the bridge is revealed.

Now above the bridge with our next color, we write the ways we are going to cope if we get stuck in the middle. If an obstacle drops in front of us, how will we overcome it? Who will support us?

Below the bridge in our last color, we write what steps we will take to get from one side to the other.

Now we show that from one side of the bridge to the other, we have the means to get there. And if we are in the middle, is that always bad? No. If you were in the middle of your bridge, what do you have above and below you? The middle is progress. It just takes some time 🙂


NOTE: For the strumming pattern, I follow the pattern in the song. If you want some specifics, check out this video — it was really helpful to me in learning the strums.I did a google search for “bridge clip art” to get my image, but if you want to save yourself some time, here is a copy of the one I used.

Song #2: “Never Give Up” by Sia

You can find the lyrics here and the guitar tab here

During the lyric analysis, we talk about what it means to never give up. How does it feel when you succeed after persevering? How does it feel when you give up? Have you ever given up and regretted it? Or wanted to give up but were glad you didn’t!


Usually I have the clients involved flip their lyric sheets over and, you guessed it, pick 3-4 different colored markers.

Divide the paper up into three columns. In the first column, write the word “past” at the top; in the middle “present;” and in the last column write “future.”


In the past column, the clients choose one color and write down at least three things from their past they didn’t give up on. Next, ask the client use a different color to write down at least three things in the present they don’t want to give up on. Finally, with the last color, they write down at least three goals for the future they don’t want to give up on.


Then discuss – how were you able to accomplish those goals in the past and not give up? What are you doing currently? And what will you do in the future? If things get hard and you want to give up, what will you do to push through?

NOTE: For the strumming pattern, I followed the percussion ostinato.

That’s it for now! I hope these interventions can be of assistance in finding some new ideas for your practice. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at Until next time, happy music making!

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