Want to Teach Kids Empathy? Try Music.

A new study recently found that children who simultaneously participate in a physically engaging, time-based activity feel more positively towards each and can experience greater empathy for one another.

According to the lead author of the study, “[s]ynchrony is like a glue that brings people together — it’s a magical connector for people.”

synchrony on the drums in Kindermusik class

The word “synchrony” is key.  When people interact together in rhythm (or time), that’s synchrony.  And that’s what happens in every Kindermusik class – we tap sticks together, shake bells together, dance together, clap together, and so much more. Synchrony and the joint-collaboration involved explains why the Kindermusik experience is such a powerful one.

This study specifically references music and dance as two of the types of synchronous activities that bring children closer together – the kind of closeness that results in more cooperation and greater empathy for one another. Music and movement in a classroom are a powerful combination, but it’s not just about the academic and cognitive benefits anymore. It’s about all of those benefits and so many more, including the social and emotional benefits.

Simply put, this study emphasizes that allowing children to make music and dance together promotes the kind of pro-social behavior we need in our classrooms and in our society.

“‘The findings might be applied to formulate new strategies for education in our effort to build a more collaborative and empathic future society,’ she said.

“And studying this phenomenon in children is especially important, Rabinowitch added, since the connection between music and social and emotional attitudes manifests itself so early in life.”

Looking for more ideas on how to use music to support the social-emotional development of children? Try our free e-books.


Contributed by Theresa Case who loves watching the beauty of synchrony unfold in every Kindermusik class she and her teachers teach at Piano Central Studios in beautiful upstate South Carolina.

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