Music for People Workshop: Music Creates Pathways - Music Improvisation with the Brain in Mind

Saturday, March 13, 2021

2:00pm - 3:30pm

The Brown University Department of Music welcomes Music for People for this free workshop to be hosted via Zoom. Please register for the event here:

Science-based research continues to shape our understanding of how active engagement in music can promote transformation for both body, mind and community. In this accessible participatory workshop participants will engage in active musical sound creation and experientially gain understanding of the profound effect that music has on well-being and neuroplasticity. The Music for People team will demonstrate the potential that music improvisation has to tie together the four key components for rewiring the brain: making music; movement; creative play; and numinous experience, those moments when our sense of self is absorbed into something bigger than we are. Spontaneous musical creations are born out of emergent self organizing systems.

Mary Knysh, Irene Feher and Alina Plourde, international Music for People teachers, team-teach this workshop in musical spontaneity. With the perennial belief that everyone is inherently musical, able to “return to child” and find the joy in moment-to-moment music making, we offer this experience of flow through music. Authentic presence is discovered in deep listening, and fearlessness is accessed in a safe-space of trust, encouraging heartfelt soloing, silence, playfulness, soulfulness, rhythmic grooving, chanting, drumming, and singing — all as joyful musicianship.

Sounds from all over the planet are honored as we find a deeper understanding of music as a means of self expression and cultural expression of who we are as humans. The process is nurturing and experiential, bypassing the critical mind; going into the unknown and making music without a plan. These fundamentals of expressivity have played a vital role in opening up people all over the world to more self-esteem, joy, open listening and deeper music making.

All styles of music and musicians are welcome, from beginner to professional. Bring your own instruments, found sounds and voice to this virtual workshop.

About Music for People

Founded by cellist David Darling and flautist Bonnie Insull in 1986, Music for People promotes a humanistic approach to the way music is taught, performed, and appreciated. For 30 years we have been helping people return to their natural childlike curiosity about music as it promotes music improvisation as a means of self-expression. Thousands of lives have been touched as people transform fear into a love of making music, rarely experienced in traditional music teaching. Offering quarterly weekend workshops throughout the year and a longer workshop once each summer, its four-year training program has graduated 100’s of Certified Facilitators from its Musicianship and Leadership training program in the US and in Switzerland, bringing Music For People’s inclusive music making to schools, concerts, health care settings and the workplace.

Mary Knysh is the founder of Rhythmic Connections, an innovative company advancing education, health, and creative development through drum circles and music improvisation. Mary is a cutting edge workshop facilitator, trainer and consultant who uses music as a means for personal and organizational transformation through creativity, leadership and non‐verbal communications. She is a professional musician, recording artist, and author. An international teacher/trainer with the Music for People organization, Mary is also an Orff Schulwerk clinician and teaching artist for the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, Young Audiences of NJ, and New York BOCES. Mary travels throughout the United States, Europe and Asia offering drum circle facilitator trainings, performances, and workshops.

Dr. Alina Plourde, oboe and English horn, performs frequently with Symphoria, Syracuse’s professional orchestra. She has also played recently with Tri-Cities Opera, the Society for New Music, the Binghamton Symphony, and the Buffalo Philharmonic, and has commissioned and premiered several new chamber music works. She teaches oboe at Syracuse University and at Onondaga Community College, where she also teaches improvisation. Alina has a private studio of oboe students based in Dewitt, and teaches music for grades 1-6 at the Montessori School of Syracuse. She has completed Level II Orff training, is a registered Music Together teacher, and is a graduate of the Music for People program, where she now serves as a regional trainer. Alina studied with Richard Killmer at the Eastman School of Music and with Nancy Ambrose King at the University of Illinois, where she received a doctorate degree in oboe performance. She is a founding member of the New Leaf Ensemble, a professional chamber music group specializing in improvisation.

Irene Feher is a 2017 graduate of Music For People’s MLP Training. ( She facilitates Music for People improvisation workshops and MLP training in Montreal (Canada). She also runs the Concordia University initiative “Live Your Music at Concordia – Music Health Breaks.” Irene teaches classical/contemporary voice at Concordia University, vocal techniques at McGill University (Music ed.) and voice lessons at her private studio in Montreal. Known for her sincere expressivity and warm mezzo-soprano voice, Irene Feher performs regularly as a soloist and recitalist. With over 25 years of teaching experience, 30 years of performing experience, and a passion for healthy vocal production, Irene teaches musicians and singers of all ages and levels. Her approach is holistic combining formal classical training, classical and popular performance experience, somatic awareness, and MfP improvisation techniques. A devoted pedagogue, Irene Feher completed her doctoral degree at The Schulich School of Music/McGill University.