Program Director

Mary Knysh

Mary KnyshMary 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 international 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.  She is endorsed by Rhythm Band Instruments and Remo corporations.  Mary travels throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia offering music improvisation seminars, drum circle facilitator trainings and performances.

Facilitators and Regional MLP Trainers

Dr. David Rudge

David RudgeDr. David Rudge teaches Free Improvisation at the State University of New York at Fredonia where he leads the Improv. Collective, a performing ensemble dedicated to free improvisation for self-expression. ( As an improvising violinist, he has performed with Paul Winter, Paul Horn, Arthur Hull, Don Campbell and David Darling. He has also served as conductor for David Darling and Jon-Luc Ponty. Involved with Music for People since its inception, David also now teaches at the Music for People workshops. ( David has taught Free Improvisation in such diverse settings as Oklahoma State University, the Connecticut and New York Public Schools, the Kiental Center in Switzerland, the Tenri Cultural Center in NY City, Strings without Boundaries, Brian Wicklund’s American Fiddle Camp, Charles Castleman’s Quartet Program, the North Carolina School of the Arts and the Omega Institute of Holistic Studies, where he was part of the summer staff. Dr. Rudge is also the Director of Orchestras and Opera at SUNY – Fredonia. He has conducted symphony orchestras and operas in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South and Central America to critical acclaim. (

Dr. Irene Feher

Irene FeherA 2017 graduate of Music For People’s MLP Training, Irene Feher 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.

Alina Plourde

Alina Plourde — Music for People’s Regional MLP Trainer in Syracuse, NY — performs frequently with Symphoria, Syracuse’s professional orchestra, and is a founding member of the New Leaf Ensemble, an improvising chamber music group. She teaches oboe at Syracuse University and at Onondaga Community College, where she also teaches an MfP-style improvisation class. She has a studio of private oboe students, and works with younger students at the Montessori School of Syracuse, weaving improvisation into classes that include Orff instruments, recorder, and world music.


David Darling 1941-2021

David Darling was born in Elkhart, Indiana, was tutored on piano from the age of four and began to study cello at ten. David’s career began as an elementary and secondary school teacher and conductor of band and orchestra, specializing in cello and bass. He later taught music and served as orchestra conductor and faculty cellist at Western Kentucky University. While at Indiana State College he began to consider the potential of the cello in improvised music.

In 1969 David joined the Grammy Award-winning Paul Winter Consort, a progressive band for its time whose sound blended jazz with Brazilian, African, Indian and other world music. During his eight-year stint as soloist, composer and vocalist with the Consort, Darling was exposed at length to ensemble and solo improvisation.

Since leaving the Consort in 1978, he has dedicated himself to a solo performing and recording career, and to teaching music and improvisation. David’s solo albums and recording collaborations represent a worldview of musical genres.

In 1986 he co-founded with Bonnie Insull, Music for People, a non-profit educational network dedicated to teaching and fostering improvisation as a means of creative self-expression. David Darling’s unconventional, playful teaching style has helped open the world of music and improvisation to thousands.

Darling worked for Young Audiences, Inc., a National Medal of the Arts award-winning organization dedicated to enriching children’s lives by providing in-school programs, classroom workshops, artists’ residencies and performances. David Darling was presented with the 1995 Artist of the Year Award in recognition of his hard work, innovations and creativity in the service of arts-in-education.

Darling has collaborated on performances and recordings with more than three dozen other musicians, among them: Paul Winter Consort, Bobby McFerrin, Spyro Gyra, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Kater and R. Carlos Nakai — also including Peter, Paul and Mary; Tai Ji master Chungliang Al Huang; Ralph Towner; Jon Christensen; Jan Garbarek; Dino Saluzzi; Terje Rypdal; Ketil Bjornstad; the Nickolais-Louis Dance Theater, and the innovative dance ensemble, Pilobolus. His collaboration with Nakai and Kater, an album entitled “Migration,” was named 1992 New Age Album of the Year by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors (NAIRD).

Darling contributed to the musical score of German director Wim Wenders’ film “Until the End of the World” and was a featured solo improvisor on the Wenders film “Far Away, So Close.” Other film credits include music for Jean-Luc Godard’s classic “Nouvelle Vague,” the 1996 movies “Heat” and “Mostly Mozart,” and recently a US National Park Service film “Canyonlands.”

David has worked with Peter Kater, Patrick Leonard, Coleman Barks, the Bunon tribe of Taiwan, Hearts of Space, Wind Over The Earth, The Relaxation Company and numerous musicians in his home studio. He created Blue Adagio Music where he produces CDs for other artists.

His 2001 CD Release “Cello Blue” was nominated for a Grammy in the “Best New Age Album” category, and David’s release “Prayer for Compassion” won the 2009 Grammy for Best New Age Album of the Year! He can be reached at[/columnize]

Faculty and Staff – Europe

Find out more about the Faculty and Staff for Europe Workshops.

Former Music for People Faculty and Staff

Music for People is grateful to all of the former faculty and staff members who have contributed to the organization.
Arianna Rose
Betsy Bevan
Bonnie Darling
Bonnie Insull, Co-Founder with David Darling
Emily Metcalf
Eric Miller
Jan Hittle
Joëlle Danant
Julie Weber
Lynn Miller
Jim Oshinsky
Peter Hawes