Written by Erzsi Institorisz and edited by James Schultz

A recent Nature of Things episode, I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song, aired December 1st, 2016 and unleashed our need to post this blog, exploring the subject of how art can teach us empathy (side thought: Art for empathy and sports for resilience?).

Music plays a critical role in building empathy and creating bonds in the community. Back in the ice age days there were flutes! Flutes were found in caves dating back 40,000 years (Nature of Things, 2016). Music is thought to be fundamental to creativity and innovation, and has been seen in every existing society so far. It has helped humans develop critical thinking skills.

The I Got Rhythm episode highlighted the results of LIVELab’s experiment where performers gave a live concert vs. showing of a pre-recorded performance. The results? The audience jived more and got into the music more when it was a live performance. Individuals all over the room had similar movements. There was inter-subject synchronicity (cool word!).

How Music Creates Empathy

Why do we care? Music bonds us to each other

Music is essential to humanity. The Vancouver Sun published an article November 29th 2016, interviewing the writer (Helen Metella) and producer/director (Connie Edwards) of the Nature of Things episode, who focused on and researched the content for over 12 years.

Their findings included that “music is this perfect tool because it triggers so many things in your brain: the motor reflex, the auditory reflex, the cognitive reflex, the language centre, the emotions — all these different things”

“when you’re in sync with somebody that means they’re more like you”

All of this research suggests that music is fundamental to human beings. It would be a tough challenge to find someone on Earth who hasn’t been made to feel better by music.

It could very well be that with more research done into sociology, psychology and history we’ll find that having empathy as an attitude and part of our daily lives can lead to the improvement of the “lives of everyone around us” (Krznaric, 2016). “We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.”

Music creates empathy towards nature and towards human relations, and it encourages teamwork. Even if you’ve never played an instrument before you can still pick up on the language of rhythm without asking too many questions. In some cases, all it takes is grooving to a beat, bobbing your head along to the song. “Music can bring people together, it’s a language and lifestyle…” (TED talk by (Wooten)).

Stay tuned for more on how these topics are fueling our passion for bringing music into education. 


Krause, B. (2013, June). The voice of the natural world. Retrieved 01 04, 2015, from TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/bernie_krause_the_voice_of_the_natural_world

Krznaric, R. (2016, 09 9). Uplift Connect. Retrieved 12 05, 2016, from Six Habits of Highly Empathic People: http://upliftconnect.com/six-habits-highly-empathic-people/

Nature of Things. (2016, 12 01). I Got Rhythm: The Science of Song. Retrieved 12 03, 2016, from CBC: http://www.cbc.ca/natureofthings/episodes/i-got-rhythm-the-science-of-song

Wooten, V. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zvjW9arAZ0&spfreload=10