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Example Song Discussions for Kids

by Jordan Tenpas, MT-BC

When I’m working with kids, I’m often drawn towards more active interventions, like singing, instrument play, or movement. And there are tons of options for experiences we can have in those categories! However, there is also a lot of benefit for kids to engage in receptive experiences, like song discussion. Some kids can have a shorter attention span when it comes to talking about music, but song discussion can be a really valuable tool for encouraging self-expression and abstract thinking skills.

When I think of classic songs that spark conversation, my mind goes to songs like “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” by Simon & Garfunkel or “Let it Be” by The Beatles. Those songs are great for older clients, but their themes may be a bit more abstract, and less accessible for kids. Whether it’s from a kid’s movie or just a child friendly pop song, there are lots of great songs that we can incorporate into our sessions to spark conversation on important themes.

Example song discussions for kids insta

1. You’ve Got a Friend in Me – Randy Newman from Toy Story

I’d argue that You’ve Got a Friend in Me is one of the most well-known Disney songs to date. It’s filled with sweet sentiments about friendship through good times and bad times. A conversation about You’ve Got a Friend in Me could center on important people in our lives, the characteristics of a good friend, or how we support and are supported by others during challenging times. Developing healthy relationships is important from a young age, and You’ve Got a Friend in Me offers a great example of friendship that kids can relate to.


Sample Lyrics and Questions:

  • “We stick together, we can see it through” – When was a time you worked together with another person to solve a problem? What happened?
  • “When the road looks rough ahead…you just remember what your old pal said” – Think of a time when you faced a challenge. Who helped you through that? How did they help?
  • “Some other folks might be a little bit smarter than I am, bigger and stronger, too” – Do our friends need to be the biggest and strongest people we know? What makes someone a good friend?

2. I’m Still Standing – Elton John

Originally an Elton John song written after a breakup, I’m Still Standing was covered in the movie Sing, making it familiar and motivating to a lot of kids. The verses have lyrics that may be appropriate for older kids to talk about interpersonal conflict resolution and recovery. The chorus repeats the lyrics “I’m still standing” which can be an accessible metaphor for older and younger kids alike to talk about how to respond when something “knocks them down,” or how to go about solving a problem.


Sample Lyrics and Questions:

  • “I’m still standing better than I ever did” – Think of a time when you’ve fallen down, maybe off of a bike or while walking outside. What happened next? What things did you need to be able to stand back up and try again?
    • Now let’s think of some other problems we’ve had. What happened and what kind of tools did you use to work through it?

3. Upside Down – Jack Johnson

Upside Down was a popular radio hit from the mid-aughts and was also featured in the 2006 Curious George movie. It features a simple repetitive melody and a lot of fun percussion that makes this song appealing to kids and adults alike. There are several great lyrical themes in Upside Down. There are lines about learning and discovering new things and about sharing love with others. One of my favorite things to discuss when using Upside Down in a session is how we set goals and the types of challenges we might face on the way to those goals.


Sample Lyrics and Questions:

  • “Who’s to say I can’t do everything, well I can try” – What are some things you’ve always wanted to try doing? What challenges have kept you from trying?
  • “With each new day I can feel a change in everything” – When was a time when something around you changed? 
  • “I’ll share this love I find with everyone, we’ll sing and dance to Mother Nature’s songs” – Think of the people in your life that you love. What kinds of fun things do you do with the people you love? How do we show people we love them?

4. Count on Me – Bruno Mars

Count on Me is an upbeat pop song with a great message. Like You’ve Got a Friend in Me, the Bruno Mars tune is a great way to spark conversation about healthy relationships and how we care for and support those around us. Along with the friendship themes, Count on Me offers great opportunities for emotional identification and can open discussion on how we deal with difficult emotions like fear or sadness.


Sample Lyrics and Questions:

  • “You can count on me like 1-2-3, I’ll be there” – What does it mean to count on somebody? Who in your life can you count on?
  • “If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can’t see” – How do you think someone who’s lost in the dark feels? How could we help that person? When is a time you’ve felt scared, and how did you get help?
  • “And if you ever forget how much you really mean to me, everyday I will remind you” – Who in your life is important to you? What do you like about that person? How do you show them you love them?

Chime in!

What are your favorite songs to use for song discussions with children? Let us know in the comments below!

Jordan Tenpas, MT-BC

Music Therapist – Board Certified


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