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Music Enables Kids to Learn & Express Emotion

Mon, 07/02/2018 - 12:02pm
Last updated
6 months ago
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Boys playing conga drums

Music can be a constructive way to express who you are and what you're feeling, especially in young children. Some children find it difficult to say how they're feeling, primarily because they don’t know the name of the feeling they’re experiencing. Instead, they may show it by crying, throwing temper tantrums, or having meltdowns. Effective emotional expression must be learned. The good news is that young children can be taught basic emotions such as happy, mad, sad, and scared as early as two years old and more as they get older. Adding music to the playground can facilitate this.

Expression of Emotion in Music

Music and play are very effective ways for children to learn about and explore feelings, and then practice how to express and manage them. For instance, a ‘Music and Feelings’ lesson plan can encourage children to recognize and talk about different feelings and emotions through a variety of musical fun activities.

Music can help children to ‘hear’ what certain feelings sound like, and they can learn to tell what emotion is evoked by a piece of music.  

Music can help a child get in touch with and/or express a feeling he or she may be experiencing such as happy, sad, scared, or mad. Musical instruments can be ‘gates’ for their emotions and playing them allows their emotions to come through. Appropriate self-expression springs from a sense of self and music can help immensely with this.

Music can give children a way to express themselves, to unleash their creativity, to be inspired and uplifted, to relax, and to relieve stress and tension.

Making music with other people improves children’s social and emotional skills. They learn to work together as a team and develop their sense of empathy with others. Researchers have found that when children play music together – from simple rhythms to larger group performances – they are better able to tune into other people’s emotions.

Music has been reported to evoke a full range of human emotion including:

  • Happy or Sad – Music can lift a child’s mood, make them smile or laugh or feel melancholy and even make them cry.
  • Energetic – Rhythms in music can make us move faster and aid physical exercise.
  • Scared – Music can make children feel scared or tense, for example during some ‘dark’ moment in a movie.
  • Calm - Certain music can help the mind slow down and initiate the relaxation response.
  • Nostalgic – Music can remind children of the past, both good times and not so good times.
  • Love – Music can be used to express love and as a sign of affection


Most of all though, playing music makes people happy! There are few pleasures in this world that can be compared to the high you feel from letting your soul flow through your body and out through improvisation and music making. Discover the stress-relieving power of playing your own song.

At Percussion Play, we are passionate about helping you add harmony, soul, and energy to outdoor play environments. Learn more about The Expression of Emotion in Music.

Children playing a cadenza

Robin Ashfield, Sales & Marketing Director, is the co-founder of Percussion Play, the world's...