Exploring Emotions Through Music

Music is everywhere! We hear it playing alongside our favorite movies. We hear it as a soundtrack in our cars or at the grocery store. If we’re having a bad day or a really good day, we’ll even blast it loudly and escape into another world.

People holding recordsFor many of us music is so essential to our daily lives. It helps us explore ideas and emotions in a safe way and allows us to express ourselves without using words. It can connect us to new groups of friends and give us a sense of belonging. Depending on the artist, music can even expose us to positive influences and help us learn coping mechanisms to process our feelings in productive and meaningful ways. Though sounds have changed throughout the years, that feeling is what remains the most important to me: feeling like you have someone on your side that “gets it,” whatever ‘it’ may be.

But this sometimes makes music a tricky subject between parents and teens. What is positive or negative? What is appropriate or inappropriate? How do we decide that? Language is often a good indicator, but language has also changed throughout time. Words we said years ago may be inappropriate now and vice versa. Subjects that were seen as ‘taboo’ may now be openly discussed among all ages. Artists could be discussing complex and dark topics, but encouraging us to overcome or stay away from that lifestyle. If they’re performing a sad or angry song, maybe we can relate to them like a friend, helping us to think about feelings we otherwise may have ignored and let build up. Just like our world changes every day, our music often reflects that change too and talks about it, inviting us to join in on the conversation.

So how do we decide what’s appropriate? The short answer is: we don’t. If you hear something that makes you uncomfortable, talk about it with someone (your friends or an adult). Music can sometimes challenge us, but it can also help us grow and learn new things about ourselves. In the context of music that may be seen as “heavy” or “too dark,” we can learn from those artists by using their songs to explore our negative emotions in a healthy way. Above all else, I believe all music should be explored to find out who you are and what you like, especially as a teenager when it’s so important to establish your own identity and who you will be moving forward.

With that said, here are a few albums I think are worth your time. Happy listening!

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Kody is a Youth Librarian at TSCPL who primarily works with teens. He enjoys music, writing, photography, and lots of coffee in his spare time. Don't hesitate to say hello!