This month, I have been reminded of how powerful it can be for clients to experience music that matches some part of their emotional aesthetic environment (Lee, 2006), be it by listening to pre-recorded music, making music themselves, and/or listening to the therapist create the music for them. In this post, I share this concept of an emotional aesthetic environment, and some of the ways that I have been exploring it.

What is the emotional aesthetic environment?

The emotional environment, or landscape, can be either:

  • Internal: within someone, or
  • External: existing between and/or among people, and/or within a particular space (e.g. therapy room, classroom, home).

The aesthetic component refers to the idea that this emotional landscape can be represented by, and/or carries, aesthetic qualities. 

In my professional work, clients who participate in sounding their emotional aesthetic environment often report feeling:

  • Connected to others (e.g., the therapist, the therapy group, the musicians on the recording),
  • Less isolated,
  • Heard, and/or
  • Accepted.

Sounding the emotional aesthetic environment in community.

As a musician, I also enjoy bringing the experience of sounding the emotional aesthetic environment to performance spaces. One way I do this is with an improvised piece, called “Sounding the Emotional Aesthetic Environment”. In this piece, the ensemble improvises music based upon emotions and/or feelings suggested by the audience. 



“In playing these emotions, I felt a sense of connection with the audience that was returned both tangibly (e.g. when an audience member cheered when their emotion was selected) and intangibly (e.g. the energy in the space)” (Seabrook, 2017, p. 6). I also received written and verbal feedback from some audience members whose emotions were sounded about how powerful the experience was for them.

The emotional aesthetic environment in everyday life.

I continue to consider what the emotional aesthetic environment is in the spaces I move through and ask myself:

  • What aspects of the emotional aesthetic environment do I most readily attend to or avoid? 
  • What do I bring to the emotional aesthetic environment? 
  • What is spoken and unspoken? 
  • How can music bring the unspoken forward? 
  • How can music transform what is there? 

I have created a short Workbook (available on my Free Resources Page) that offers guidance for you to explore sounding the emotional aesthetic environment. There are options for people with all levels of musical experience and comfort.

May you and yours be safe and well.




Lee (personal communication, September 2006 – August 2007) discussed the concept of the emotional aesthetic environment as part of his Aesthetic Music Therapy approach.

Seabrook, D. (2017). Performing wellness: Playing in the spaces between music therapy and music performance improvisation practices. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 17(3).



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Please note that this blog is intended for:
-Mental health practitioners interested in integrating music into their clinical work
-Mental health practitioners who love music
-Mental health practitioners trained in Music-Integrated Therapy

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