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


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.

hetta potgieter

Retired as an Associate Professor in Music Education at North-West University, Potchefstroom. In 2008 she has founded and was the organiser of the first international conference of MASARA. She was also the editor of the conference proceedings that were published in the The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa. During November 2012 she was a guest of Rev Prof June Boyce-Tillman and attended the première of her community composition that led to another international conference that was presented in April 2015, “Spirituality and Music Education” (SAME).

From 2006 Hetta was also the contact person for an exchange programme between the University of Jyväskylä and North-West University and the College of Music (RCM) in Stockholm. During March to June 2014 she conducted research at the Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherland, on spirituality. This research culminated in several publications.

She has also composed music for church choir, organ and children’s songs. Currently she is committed to community ecumenical and meditative services, and renewal in the church.


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.

giorgios tsiris

Giorgios 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.

rev. dr 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.

chris van rhyn

BMus, BMus (Honours), MMus and PhD from Stellenbosch University. He is the Director of the research entity MASARA (Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications) at North-West University, South Africa. Chris is also a Senior Lecturer in the School of Music at NWU. His research focus is on the works of South African and African composers of art music (score analysis, critical theory and philosophy), with a special interest in the British-South African composer Priaulx Rainier.

Chris has presented research papers at conferences in South Africa, Serbia the USA, Ireland and Chile, and has published articles and reviews in South African Music Studies, Musicus, Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies, Österreichische Musikzeitschrift, the World New Music Magazine, Musicology Australia, and Perspectives of New Music. He was a board member of NewMusicSA, the South African section of the International Society for Contemporary Music, from 2009-2016, during which time he was also their journal editor. In 2011 Chris won the North-West University Chancellor’s Trust Prize for Composition.  He is currently an Associate Editor for the US-based journal Perspectives of New Music.


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

Giorgios 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