Exploring Job Goals Through Songwriting

by admin on January 6, 2013

One aspect of the Therapeutic Arts Program at Blue Ridge is to expose our students (ages 17-30) to prevocational training in their program.  This may include self-assessment of skills, creating resumes, community outings, or working on job skills like (planning, sorting, alphabetizing, following directions, working as a team member to complete a project, etc.).  For some students, I actually have them sort through 40 “Job Skill” cards that list different things people like to do (work with animals, help others, perform, work with books, cook, etc.) and through a process of elimination, the student ends up with 4-5 of their favorite “Job Skill” cards.  This gives me a basic job profile and then later I may suggest a volunteer job option to the family.  I usually create a song on-the-spot for each person to then share their individual likes with the group. I also ask the group to try to remember one thing that each person liked to do, promoting social awareness and listening skills.

This week I decided to take the basic theme of New Year’s resolutions, and put a twist on it by exploring future job goals.  I decided to use the song “I Want to Be a Billionaire” by Travie McCoy.  I knew it was a familiar song to most of my students, and would be fun to rework the lyrics to make it more appropriate for the activity.  I selected certain lines in the song to become fill-in-the-blank sections.  Since many of my students have expressing language deficits, I always make sure to provide a word bank for every fill-in-the-blank section.  Here is one example of a finished project, the BOLD words are the words selected by one student:

I wanna be a VOLUNTEER, so, so bad.

I BELIEVE it’s the best job to have.

I wanna spend my days HELPING OTHER PEOPLE.

Smiling each and every day.


Oh, every time I close my eyes.

I see my name in shining lights.

Come home late every night, oh I, I swear.

The world better prepare,

When I become a VOLUNTEER.


I accompanied each student on the ukulele and they took turns singing their song.  We sang most of the chorus together as a group and each soloist sang the last line by themselves.  The student who wrote the example above then started her own rap to go along with the song in her private lesson.  Here it is:

I would walk beside you

Sing a song to you

Make your day better

Help you with whatever.

I would cheer for you

Anything for you

I would lend a hand

A Zumba dance band.

Cuz I’m a volunteer,

I’m a volunteer.

Get your silverware,

Help you with your hair.

Cuz I’m a volunteer, I’m a volunteer

Take away your fear cuz I will be right here.

Become a Song Shop member and download the 40 Job Skill cards and “I Want to Be A ____” songwriting worksheet.





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