Soundtrack of Your Life

 by Miranda Rex, MA, MT-BC

I think almost all music therapists have done the Soundtrack of Your Life exercise, but I’m willing to bet we all do it differently from one another. Here’s how I usually work through this with both my groups and individuals. 

First, I print the following black template and attach it to the inside of large folded piece of construction paper. 

     Soundtrack of Your Life

     Album Title: ____________________________

Track 1: ____________________

Track 2: ____________________

Track 3: ____________________

Track 4: ____________________

Track 5: ____________________

Second, I’ll ask my folks to pick and write in their songs. Typically, I ask everyone to choose one song that represents or is from their past, present, and future, plus 2 songs they really love.

Next, they should title their album. In coming up with a title, I challenge them to choose something besides “My Soundtrack” or “Soundtrack of My Life.” 

Then, I have them create an album cover that accurately portrays what kind of music is inside. Usually, I will have pre-selected songs playing on a Bluetooth speaker while they work so that I am free to walk around and provide assistance or answer any questions. 

I used to only provide the list and ask my folks decorate the back of the paper, but I found that taping the list inside a large piece of construction paper made it more fun and authentic. It also gave them something to keep that’s more than a simple piece of paper. 

Here’s an example of one of my soundtracks:

 

Miranda's sample album art, drawn with crayons. It has green and blue swirl designs, purple and blue floral designs, and black music notes and polka dots.
A piece of construction paper folded in half (hamburger style) with Miranda's example album written on the inside. The test reads, "Soundtrack of Your Life. Album Title: Admirable King. Track list: 1. I'm Just a Kid - Simple Plan. 2. Don't Stop Me Now - Queen. 3. Save Rock & Roll - Fall Out Boy. 4. Africa - Toto. 5. Thrift Shop. Macklemore."

Some other ways I have grouped the 5 songs:

  • By where people have lived. For example, I’ve lived in Andrews, Abilene, Denton, Marble Falls, and Denton again. 
  • By grade level. For example, elementary school, middle school, high school, then within those, picking two specific grades that stand out to them. 
  • By sports. For example, I had a kid who grouped theirs by what sport they were playing as they aged, so soccer, basketball, football, track & field, and tennis, then had songs to match those feelings/eras. 
  • By favorite artist/song. For example, who was your favorite artist when you were 6, 10, 13, 15, now, etc. 
  • By mental health journey. For example, what song would represent where you started (pre-treatment), how the experience has been (in treatment), where you are now (can be in treatment or outpatient settings), and where you hope to be (recovery, illness management, etc.). 
  • By life events. For example, a divorce, a marriage, adoption, deaths or births, graduations, etc. 

Just make sure you’re prepared to “go there” for some of these, as they can get heavy and you don’t want to leave your folks holding on by a thread when you leave groups/sessions. 

How do you facilitate this activity?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Miranda Rex, MA, MT-BC