A&ECampus NewsUsing music in education could improve students self-esteem, empathy

ETC StaffNovember 22, 20195 min

Melanie Valente-Leite, News Reporter

Music is a learning tool that can teach students and communities about peace-making and love, says Olivier Urbain, director-general at Min-On Music Research Institute.

“I’m a researcher in the potential application of music in human life and in society for peace-building and I base most of my theories on music and peace-building on the values and principles of Soka Education,” Urbain said.  Soka, which means “value-creating” in Japanese, is an educational theory presented by Japanese educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi. 

Olivier Urbain, director of the Min-On Music Research Institute, explained to faculty how music can help shape the minds of future generations. (Melanie Valente-Leite)

Urbain, general director at Min-On Music Research Institute, believes music has enthralled potential for use in schools and communities to teach growing children and help them to learn about peace and love through music. 

“I’m a researcher in the potential application of music in human life and society for peace-building and I base most of my theories on music and peace-building on the values and principles of Soka Education,” Urbain said. 

Music is thought to have various elements that can help contribute to a child’s education and brain development.

The philosophy behind this is to connect empathy with global justice. The goal is to teach, not only children but for anyone interested in learning how to grow as a human being but also learn how to be a welcoming neighbour in society, Urbain said.

Paul Sherman, director of the Soka Education Research Initiative on Global Citizenship at the University of Guelph-Humber, has worked towards bringing this initiative to Guelph-Humber and hopes to spread more awareness. 

“This initiative is only two years old, but has had such amazing success already, that the funder has given us additional funding for five years which allows us to enhance what we are going to do, which will also allow us to give more opportunities to students to get involved,” Sherman said.  

Soka Education’s goal is not to create professional music artists but to help with student’s self-esteem and to improve their social skills. By doing this, it prepares students for future careers and life issues, Urbain said. Music influences people’s emotions, therefore, it can influence their actions, he said. If a child is introduced to a certain type of music at a young age, it can shape the way they view life and different cultures, Urbain said. 

Not only does that give the child a view on different cultures but it also expands their empathy towards things they do not fully understand, he said. “I never really thought about how something like music could globally affect everybody and how it can relate to peace-building,” said Heba Elgharbawy, a third-year psychology student at Guelph-Humber. 

“I’ve always been interested in art and music, so to see it like applied to something so important is amazing.”