Who we are


Music, Spirituality and Wellbeing International Network

MSWInternational was established in 2019 by Reverend Professor June Boyce-Tillman. The multidisciplinary team comprises researchers studying areas including music and dementia; music and pain management and singing and spirituality We believe that performing arts practice is consciously related to personal, social, organisational, environmental and spiritual wellbeing. We are committed to music as wellbeing (sometimes including other art forms) in a community context including working within educational groups, along with hard-to-reach and marginalised people.


                                           STEERING COMMITTEE

Mary Cohen

With a strong interest and practice in peacebuilding, meditation, yoga, group singing, and improvisation, Mary L. Cohen is an Associate Professor of Music Education at the University of Iowa. She researches music-making and well-being, songwriting, and collaborative communities. She has been a keynote for conferences in Germany, Canada, and Portugal. In addition to her work as lead author of Music-Making in U.S. Prisons: Listening to Incarcerated Voices (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2022) with Stuart P. Duncan, she is collaborating on international initiatives to build social movements toward dismantling carceral logics and building caring communities. In 2009, she founded the Oakdale Prison Community Choir (http://oakdalechoir.lib.uiowa.edu/). In 2010 she began the Oakdale Songwriting Workshop where participants have written over 150 songs, and the Oakdale Choir has performed over 75 of these songs, available with the Creative Commons License. She has also written numerous journal articles and book chapters for Community Music at the Boundaries, My Body Was Left on the Street: Music Education and Displacement, Performing Arts in Prisons: Creative Perspectives, The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education, The Oxford Handbook of Community Music, The Oxford Handbook of Music Education, and The Oxford Handbook on Care in Music Education, among others.  


Mike Dines

British musician, writer, scholar and publisher. He founded Itchy Monkey Press (http://itchymonkeypress.com) with the publication of the anarcho-punk novella the darkening light (2014), followed by Tales From the Punkside (2014), Some of Us Scream, Some of Us Shout (2016) and And All Around Was Darkness (2017) with Greg Bull. As a scholar he has written widely on subcultures and popular music, co-editing The Aesthetics of Our Anger: Anarcho-Punk, Politics, Music (Autonomedia/Minor Compositions, 2016), Punk Pedagogies: Music, Culture and Learning (Routledge, 2017), The Punk Reader: Research Transmissions from the Local and the Global (Intellect, 2019), Punk Now!! Contemporary Perspectives on Punk (Intellect, 2020), Trans-Global Punk Scenes: The Punk Reader Vol. 2 (Intellect, 2021) and Punk Identities, Punk Utopias: Global Punk and Media (Intellect 2021). He has also written chapters for The Oxford Handbook of Punk Rock (Oxford University Press, 2021) and The Oxford Handbook of Global Popular Music (Oxford University Press, 2021). His current writing takes him in the direction of popular music and spirituality with the co-edited collection Exploring the Spiritual in Popular Music: Beatified Beats (Bloomsbury, 2021). He is currently Co-Pathway Leader for Popular Music at Middlesex University and is an avid supporter of Portsmouth Football Club. 


Amira Erlich

Dr. Amira Ehrlich is an educator as a music teacher, producer, and researcher. Among other positions, she has served as a member of the national leadership team for the Israel Ministry of Education’s Experiments and Entrepreneurship Division; as a high school music teacher and subject coordinator; and as a lecturer at the Levinsky College of Education. In 2009 Amira opened an independent business as a musical manager/producer, working with ensembles of Prof. Andre Hadju and his students, and producing local and international debuts of their “Raza D’Shabbat” program at the Israel Festival and at SOAS in the University of London. She has  two master’s degrees cum laude, one in English literature and musicology  (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and the other in music education (Levinsky College). In 2017, she received her doctorate in music education from Boston University, and won the departmental honors award. Her published writings explore the cultural aspects of music education, and the interfaces between music, spirituality, education, and leadership. Amira participated as an active researcher in an international research group lead by Sibelus Academy in Finland (2015-2020). Since 2018 she has been working as program, coordinator of the graduate studies in music education in Levinsky College of Education. Since 2020 Amira has been the chair of the International Society of Music Education’s special interest group for spirituality in music education.


Karin Hendricks

Karin Hendricks recently completed a term as Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies for the School of Music at Boston University. She serves regularly as an instrumental music clinician, adjudicator, and workshop presenter throughout the United States and abroad. Dr Hendricks is past-secretary of the American String Teachers Association and serves on several national and international music education committees. She conducts research in music psychology, motivation and social justice, and has published numerous papers in top research journals and books. She was the 2018 recipient of the American String Teachers Association ‘Emergent String Researcher’ Award. Before moving to the collegiate level, Karin enjoyed a successful public school orchestra career for 13 years, where she won local, state and national awards for her teaching. Dr Hendricks has published three books, including Compassionate Music Teaching: A Framework for Motivation and Engagement in the 21st Century.

Brian Inglis

Senior lecturer at Middlesex University and co-programme leader, BA Music. He studied music at the University of Durham and City University, London, gaining the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers’ Prize for masters work in composition and musicology in 1993, and a PhD in composition and analysis in 1999. His music has been heard on numerous radio programs and festivals. A CD of piano music (Living Stones) has been released on the Sargasso label. As a musicologist his overarching interests are in the areas of genre and identity. Book chapters on solo/a cappella opera; on classical music and copyright, and on music and spirituality are found in Music On Stage Volume 2, The Classical Music Industry and Enlivening Faith. His edition (with Barry Smith) of Kaikhosru Sorabji’s Letters to Philip Heseltine (Peter Warlock) is published by Routledge. He is a fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy, and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Royal Musical Association.

Petra Jerling

Dr Petra Jerling is a registered music psychotherapist and positive psychology practitioner in private practice since 2013. With 22 years of teaching music, she has worked with various conditions, including Cerebral Palsy, ADHD, PTSD, HIV, Guillain-Barré Syndrome, Alzheimer’s, autism, dementia, depression, stroke survivors, grief, and substance use disorder. Currently, she works at rehabilitation facilities and mental health clinics where the wellbeing of the patients is her priority. She also has weekly music making sessions at various retirement institutions. Petra holds an M. Mus in music therapy from the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and an MA Positive Psychology (cum laude) from the North-West University.

She is currently completing her PhD at MASARA, focusing on people’s experiences of music and imagery as a therapy method during the pandemic. Petra is a committee member of SA-ACAPAP and an active member of the European Association for Music and Imagery (EAMI) and the South African National Arts Therapists Association (SANATA). She loves conducting the girls’ choir at Rhenish Girls’ High School in Stellenbosch and feels blessed that God has granted her so many opportunities to realise her dream of helping others through music.

Tebogo Moroe Maphosa

The Reverend Tebogo Moroe-Maphosa is a South African-born musician, theologian, and scholar. His passion for music was nurtured at Potchefstroom High School for Boys, as a singer, and later taking up the pipe organ as an instrument of choice. He holds a Bachelor of Theology degree from St. Augustine College of South Africa and serves as an ordained cleric in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

Tebogo is deeply rooted in the Black Church experience of Jesus. Committed to the decolonial project and the liberation of marginalized people. Using the lenses of black liberation theology, womanist theology & environmental theology. He is on the quest for African epistemologies to solve current ethical and moral issues.

He serves as the South African non-executive director of the African Nations United, a think-tank and policy interactive platform, which brings together diverse cultures and traditions, creating a meeting point where Africans create, develop, and access policy and legislation. Music is fundamental to spirituality, culture, and knowledge production in South African ethnic communities; Tebogo wishes to explore these experiences, write about them, and serve his continent with liberation as the goal. He is currently studying for a Bachelor of Health Science Honours in Bioethics and Health law at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.


Laetitia Orlandi

Letitia completed the degree Doctor of Music with Music Performance at North-West University with Prof Liesl van der Merwe as her promotor. Her research focused on the spiritual music-making experiences of pianists. As a graduate of the University of Pretoria, she completed her BMus, BMus (Hons), and MMus degrees in Performing Arts cum laude as well as the UNISA Teacher’s and Performer’s Licentiates in Piano, Chamber Music, and Vocal Accompaniment under the tutelage of Prof Ella Fourie. Laetitia, employed as a full-time lecturer in the Department of Performing Arts, currently fulfills the position of Assistant Dean (Teaching & Learning) in the Faculty of Arts & Design at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). In her role as a repetiteur, she has accompanied staged productions of more than 17 operas. Laetitia frequently serves as an accompanist, chairperson of shadow juries, jury coordinator, and adjudicator of national music competitions and events. She also regularly performs as a collaborative pianist with fellow artists at the Gauteng International Arts Festival, Aardklop, Vryfees, Wakkerstroom Arts Festival, and KKNK. Laetitia resides in Pretoria, South Africa, with her husband and their two teenage sons.


Tawnya Smith

Tawnya Smith is an assistant professor of music education at Boston University. She teaches graduate courses in research, curriculum, arts integration, and undergraduate courses in creating healthy classrooms, and arts and the environment. Dr Smith is an integrative researcher who explores expressive arts principles to promote holistic learning. Her background in music education has led her to experiment with free improvisation and multi-modal art response as a means for learners to explore the self in community settings. Her recent work focuses upen arts integration and social justice. Tawnya has published articles in the Journal of Applied Arts and Health, Music Educators Journal, and Gender and Education. She has contributed book chapters to Art as Research, Key issues in Arts Education, and Queering Freedom: Music, Identity and Spirituality. She is co-auther of the book Performance Anxiety Strategies and co-editor of Narratives and Reflections in Music Education: Listening to Voices Seldom Heard.

Maria Soriano

Trained as a classical singer, graduated in History and director of Singing4Health CIC, Maria specializes in Singing for Health and Wellbeing, having trained in Singing for Breathing for people living with COPD, Singing for the Brain for people living with Parkinsons and Dementia, mental health awareness and Public Health. Maria has delivered training sessions for music teachers and occasional lectures for Kingston University Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, and is an Associate Member of the Royal Society for Public Health. Maria is director of Singing4Health CIC and promotes voice and communication workshops through Voice Magic. She has been the lead advisor for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea “Sing to Live, Live to Sing” programme, for which she wrote its Framework document.
She currently develops work around Primal Singing Integrative, offers workshops centred on Mindful Singing and Wellbeing and has also led some innovative group singing experience like Positive Voices, a choir for people living with HIV.

Giorgos Tsiris

Giorgos Tsiris PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Music Therapy at Queen Margaret University and Arts Lead at St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh, UK. He is the editor-in-chief of ‘Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy’ and co-author of two books on service evaluation and research ethics in the arts therapies and the broader arts and health field. Focusing on the performance of spirituality in everyday music therapy contexts, his doctoral research has been the first ethnographic study in the field. He currently serves as the Chair of the ISME Commission on Special Music Education and Music Therapy, while in 2017 he co-chaired with Prof Gary Ansdell the international conference ‘Exploring the Spiritual in Music: Interdisciplinary Dialogues in Music, Wellbeing and Education’. This conference led to the publication of a same-titled special journal issue exploring theoretical, methodological as well as practice-based perspectives on spirituality and music across different disciplines and cultures.

Stephen Roberts

Stephen Roberts is an academic theologian, Anglican priest and amateur musician based in Cardiff (Wales, UK). He worked as a parish priest and university chaplain in London before moving into theological education (St Michael’s College, Llandaff, Cardiff) and then academic theology (University of Chichester). He is now Tutor in Practical Theology and Mission at the South Wales Baptist College and Honorary Lecturer at Cardiff University. Rooted in the inter-related disciplines of practical and public theology, he has particular interests in chaplaincy, inter-faith relations, liturgy, and the relationship between music, spirituality and theology. He has published in each of these areas, including co-editing and contributing to Enlivening Faith: Music, Spirituality and Christian Theology (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2019). He is a proud member of the Cardiff-based community big band, Wonderbrass.

Liesl van der Merwe

Liesl van der Merwe was awarded the degrees DMus in bassoon performance, MMus (cum laude), BMus Honours (cum laude) and BMus (cum laude) at the North-West University. From 2013-2017 Liesl was the director of the research niche area MASARA (Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Application). Currently, she is an associate professor in the School of Music at the North-West University and a NRF-rated researcher. Her research interests lie in the fields of music and wellbeing, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, spirituality and lived musical experiences. She supervises postgraduate studies in the field of music education and also teaches research methodology, music education and bassoon. She has published articles in high impact journals such as Psychology of Music, Journal of Research in Music Education, International Journal of Research in Music Education, Music Education Research and International Journal of Children’s Spirituality. She also performs in chamber music ensembles and is the conductor of the North-West Youth Orchestra.


David Allinson, Independent scholar and conductor

Dr Bruce Ellis Benson, University of St Andrews, UK

The Revd Dr Terry Biddington, Winchester Institute for Contemplative Education & Practice, UK

Dr Amira Ehrlich, Levinsky College of Education, Israel

Professor Peter Fribbins, Middlesex University, UK

Professor Anne-Marie Forbes, University of Tasmania, Australia

Dr John Habron, Royal Northen College of Music, Manchester

Dr Frank Heuser, Professor, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

Professor Ruth Illman, Uppsala University, Åbo Akademi University, Finland

Dr Karin Hendricks, Boston University, US

Dr Brian Inglis, Middlesex University, UK

Dr Christo Lombaard, Professor of Christian Spirituality, University of South Africa

Professor Dr George A. Lotter, Faculty of Theology, North West University, South Africa

Dr Koji Matsunobu, University of Hong Kong, China

Dr Noah Potvin, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, US

 Revd Dr Stephen Roberts, South Wales Baptist College and Cardiff University, UK

Tawnya D. Smith, PhD, Boston University, US

Dr Olu Taiwo, Winchester University, UK

Giorgos Tsiris PhD, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK

Dr Liesl van der Merwe,  Skool vir Musiek & MASARA/School of Music & MASARA, South Africa

Dr Etienne Viviers, MASARA niche entity, North-West University, South Africa

Katherine Zezerson , Independent, UK