Press Release: Music for People Opens Way for All to Play – March 7-8 in Montreal

In Blog, Press Releases by jan_mfp


February 7, 2020

Contact: Rob Enslin,

Music for People Opens Way for All to Play: Come See What Community Music-Making Is All About, March 7-8 in Montreal
MfP satellite workshops target teachers, performers, composers, music therapists, wellness practitioners and music enthusiasts

Musicians of all ages and abilities, wanting to expand their craft and experience the joy of community music-making are invited to a weekend of workshops in Montreal.

Music for People (MfP) and McGill University’s Music Education Undergraduate Students’ Association (MEdUSA) will co-present “Live Your Music in Montreal” on Saturday-Sunday, March 7-8. The workshops will take place in the New Music Building of McGill’s Schulich School of Music (527 Sherbrooke St. West, Montreal).

Dr. Irene Feher, who teaches vocal techniques at McGill and classical and contemporary voice at nearby Concordia University, will facilitate the workshops, along with special guest Mary Knysh, a world-renowned music educator, performer and recording artist.

For more information or to register, visit

MfP is a global pioneer in inclusive, experiential music education.

MEdUSA provides services to strengthen the educational, cultural, environmental, political and social conditions of membership, in addition to facilitating interaction between members and professionals in the field of music education.

“Live Your Music in Montreal” is open to singers; string, woodwind and brass players; percussionists; and those who play experimental or multicultural instruments. Students, amateurs, professionals and retirees are welcomed.

Attendees may bring as many acoustic and electric instruments as they want to play. A large assortment of percussion instruments, including hand-pans, djembe drums and a piano, will be provided.

“We will engage in the kinds of playful activities that help foster creativity, encourage self-expression, boost brain function and build community,” says Feher, a Montreal-based MfP facilitator and regional trainer. “Since its development more than 30 years ago, MfP’s inspired approach to teaching music is being used in a growing number of schools, hospitals and nursing homes worldwide.”

Saturday’s workshop is titled “The Music for People Experience,” and runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Activities include guided free improvisations in small- and large-group settings, vocal explorations, and hand drumming.

Those interested in learning how to facilitate MfP activities are encouraged to attend Saturday’s and Sunday’s workshops, the latter of which is called “Opening the Way for All to Play.” Running from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday’s program will further delve into the free improvisation method and provide tools, techniques and games for group facilitation.

Sunday targets current and aspiring teachers, performers, composers, music therapists and wellness practitioners, explains Feher, a mezzo-soprano with more than three decades of teaching and performing experience.

Free improvisation—improvised music without any hard and fast rules—is at the heart of MfP’s humanistic mission.

“Music for People makes free improvisation immediately accessible to any combination of people and instruments, regardless of skill level and background,” she continues. “I recommend every teacher learn how to facilitate Music for People because it enables us to meet our students where they are and then build a program to develop the talents they already have. I learn from my students every day.”

In addition to weekend workshops, MfP offers a three-year training module called the Musicianship and Leadership Program (MLP).

Irene FeherFeher founded Montreal’s first regional MLP in 2018, less than two years after graduating from the program herself. She says MLP training has afforded her myriad opportunities for artistic self-discovery.

“I sing with more ease and expression. I also have discovered that I am full of creative ideas,” Feher says. “As a result, I am more confident in myself, and have become a better listener and problem-solver. I love to think on my feet.”

Feher is passionate about community music, and draws comparisons between “Live Your Music in Montreal” and “Live Your Music at Concordia: Music Health Breaks,” a project she launched last fall, thanks to a $25,000 gift from a Concordia alumnus.

The latter has become a campus favorite, due in part to MfP’s signature pedagogy.

“We lead students through series of accessible musical exercises in a safe and receptive environment. There is no emphasis on a particular style or skill set, and no musical experience is required,” says Feher, adding that the drop-in sessions foster student success and a sense of community. “We’ll take a similar approach but with more instruction at ‘Live Your Music in Montreal.’ This way, people can continue to make music almost anywhere with family, friends and students.”

Mary KnyshKnysh, MfP’s program director, is one of Feher’s mentors. In the world of what ethnomusicologists and socio-musicologists call “musicking,” the self-taught multi-instrumentalist is a bona fide rock star.

Knysh also is founder of Rhythmic Connections, an innovative company that advances education, health and creative development through drum circles and music improvisation. She regularly travels throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, offering music improvisation seminars, drum circle facilitator trainings and genre-bending performances.

She describes music improvisation as “human process in sound.”

“Through the transformative adventure of improvising together, we learn to listen to one another, connect to that which lives deeply within us and to those around us, and communicate with an entirely new language,” Knysh says.

Her fascination with free improvisation is evident in her many books and recordings, the latest of which is Innovative Drum Circles: Beyond Beat into Harmony (Rhythmic Connections Publications, 2017). She credits MfP techniques for cultivating “unlimited potential and joy.”

Feher agrees: “I am always thrilled to work with Mary [because] I learn so much from her. She embodies mastery in community music facilitation. I’ve never seen anyone communicate with and bring together people through music the way she does.”

Co-founded by GRAMMY Award-winning cellist David Darling in 1986, MfP has benefited thousands worldwide with its mindful approach to music making.

“There are no wrong notes. Just as everyone has a unique story to tell, melodies and harmonies can be equally exciting and unexpected,” says Feher, channeling Darling, known for his chart-topping work with Bobby McFerrin, Spyro Gyra and the Paul Winter Consort. “Everything begins with ‘One Quality Sound’—a note or tone that expresses everything we feel in the moment—and goes from there.”

She and Knysh will co-headline another “Live Your Music in Montreal” on June 20-21 at Concordia.

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