George Brown College prof, student volunteer for “AWESOME” music–mental health initiative


Do you have a song that helped you get through a tough time in your life? A new non-profit group aims to highlight the connection between mental health and music and it has a George Brown College connection—a business professor and student provided their project management expertise to help the group launch a campaign that kicks off on World Mental Health Day.

Derek Vigar, a professor and program coordinator at the School of Management, and business student Taylor Murdoch volunteered to help launch the Awesome Music Project Open New Browser Window (AMP), a foundation amplifying and accelerating solutions to mental health through music.

Vigar was brought on to the project by the AMP founders this past summer to plan, organize and track delivery of their ambitious vision. Vigar then recruited Murdoch, who he described as a stand-out student in his project management class, and this fall she took the lead on coordinating the initial book launch.

“We were trying to get this off the ground, so we wore many hats. Part of it was nailing down, from a business point of view, what are our goals, what’s our vision, what are our core values, who are we and what impact can we make?” Vigar said.

The Awesome Music Project book contains stories from a wide range of Canadians—111 in all—including astronaut Chris Hadfield, former hockey player Theo Fleury and singer Sarah McLachlan. People featured in the book were asked what song helped them through a tough time, gave them inspiration or was the soundtrack for a transformative experience.

The book launches on October 10, 2019 Open New Browser Window — World Mental Health Day. All proceeds from the book will go to AMP research initiatives Open New Browser Window in collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Music and Health Collaboratory at the University of Toronto.

Initially the project started as an idea to create a book to raise money and has since expanded into a vision for a foundation. “We can be the next WE Day,” Vigar said, “we can be the next Movember.”

Vigar said he felt compelled to put his professional connections and expertise to use for the greater community.

“We [faculty members] are at the stage in our careers where we have these networks and resources, and there’s an opportunity to be a dual professional,” Vigar said. “We can make an impact at the college and we can make an impact in the community.”