Select Page

Hard Times and Hope Songwriting

Dr. Tracy Richardson walks our community through a songwriting exercise, focused on acknowledgement of hardship and hope. The focus is on how to use repetition and simplicity to create a song together quickly!

  Project Campfire


  • Wellness


  • Emotional


  • Compositional


  • Guitar or Piano
  • Lyric Sheets
Printable Lead Sheet and Lyrics


  1. Song writing principles:
    • Goal: What do you want to acheive?
    • Simplicity and repetition are your friends
      • Simplicity: easy words, melody that has few notes, no big vocal leaps, few chords, piggybacking
      • Repetition: words, melodic motifs, rhythmic motifs
    • Know your “limits”
      • length of session; how many sessions
      • age, diagnoses, and abilities of clients
      • potential difficulties
    • Do some things ahead of time, if possible
      • determine theme
      • decide how you want the song to feel
      • write the chorus
    • Make it memorable and easy to sing along with
      • Know vocal range of client(s)
      • Use pentatonic notes
      • No big leaps in melody
      • Simplicity and repetition
  2. Breaktout Instructions
    • Divide group into 2 smaller groups
      • Determine which group has “hard times” and which group has “hope”
      • If using with individuals, you could have them first come up with a list for one and then a list for the other.
    • Set a designated amount of time for group to complete the task
    • TASK: Choose SEVEN words (or a two-word phrase) to describe either “hard times” or “hope”.
      • Example of Hard times: poverty, break ups, accessibility, injustice
      • Example of Hope: friendship, love, giving, music
    • Reconvene after the designated amount of time and have clients share the words that they came up with or that their group came up with.
  3. Take those words shared and put them into the song!
  4. Repeat as many times as appropriate for the setting.