Authentic Connection

Music, Spirituality, and Wellbeing

by Karin Hendricks (Author) June Boyce-Tillman (Author)
©2021 Edited Collection 382 Pages
Series: Music and Spirituality, Volume 13


This volume focuses on the ways in which mutual musical engagement might play a role in creating healthful, life-giving experiences. Scholarly chapters and reflective interludes illustrate how people use music to forge authentic spiritual and emotional connections with others, including in times of physical isolation and political unrest. Chapters and interludes address topics such as relationship building, community, wellbeing, therapy, education, and ecology. Each describes various ways in which individuals connect authentically with themselves, others, the music they make, and the physical and spiritual world around them. Many authors address current global crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, racism, nationalism, environmental injustice, and associated climate catastrophes. Authors articulate various qualities of authentic human connections, and discuss various ways in which music might be poised to facilitate emotional and spiritual connections in some of the most challenging and physically isolating times.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the authors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Acknowledgments
  • PART I Music and Authenticity in the Contemporary Context: Individualism, Community, and Negotiations of Diversity
  • 1: Music, Connection, and Authenticity (Karin S. Hendricks and June Boyce-Tillman)
  • 2: Music and Spirituality in a Polyphonic Public Sphere (Stephen B. Roberts)
  • 3: Improvisation as Spiritual Exercise: The Improvisational Virtues of Empathy, Humility, and Trust (Bruce Ellis Benson)
  • 4: Popular Music for Religious Authenticity in Israeli Jewish Religious Education (Amira Ehrlich)
  • 5: On Values and Life’s Journey through Music: Reflections on the Eriksons’ Life Stages and Music Education (Estelle R. Jorgensen)
  • PART II Authentic Connection and Wellbeing
  • 6: A Pathway to Wellbeing: Transcending a Compensatory History of Women in Music (Deborah J. Saidel)
  • Interlude 1: The Sacred Space Within Towards Mind-Body Unity through Musical Performance (Jungmin Grace Han)
  • Interlude 2: Music: To Each Their Own When Illness Comes but Rhythm Is Universal (Maria Giulia Marini)
  • 7: Creative Spirit: Conversations that Accompany Creativity in the Lives of Young People Who Are at Risk of Homelessness (Keith D. Thomasson)
  • 8: Exploring Lived Experiences of Relationality during Participatory Performances of Sacred Musics at a Care Home for the Elderly (Liesl Van Der Merwe, Janelize Morelli, and Catrien Wentink)
  • 9: Mud Drums and Magic: Spirituality and Collaborative Improvised Drumming (Gareth Dylan Smith)
  • Interlude 3: A Counselor’s Search to Understand How Her Post-Traumatic Growth and Recovery Were Facilitated by Music (Anne T. Jones)
  • PART III Therapy, Education, and Caring
  • 10: Tracing Spirituality in Everyday Music Therapy Contexts Methodological Reflections (Giorgos Tsiris)
  • Interlude 4: Healing with Shamanic Drums (Jillian Schofield)
  • 11: Music, Meditation, and Mandalas: Re-Enchanting the Care Home (June Boyce-Tillman)
  • 12: Facilitating Relational Spaces of Musicking: A Music Educator’s Practice of Care (Laura Benjamins)
  • 13: Authentic Connection in Music Education: A Chiastic Essay (Karin S. Hendricks)
  • 14: “Only When I Think the Light...” Teaching Religion Inclusively in a Camphill SEND Setting (Fabian Lochner and Michele Keim)
  • 15: Gerotranscendence and Music Therapy Supporting a Transpersonal Dimension to Aging (Faith Halverson-Ramos)
  • PART IV Ecology
  • 16: Recovering Our Humanity: What’s Love (and Music) Got to Do with It? (Dave Camlin)
  • Interlude 5: This Holy Adventure A Meditation in Loving Memory of Paul Robertson (Jennifer Kershaw)
  • 17: Re-Imagining Ritual, Creating Communitas (Chris Roberts)
  • 18 Spiraling to Life: Listening and Sounding toward a Life-Sustaining Society (Tawnya D. Smith)
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

←xi | xii→←xii | xiii→


This volume reflects the minds, hearts, and hands of many scholars and music practitioners around the world who share an interest in music, spirituality, wellbeing, and human connection. It offers a large array of perspectives and approaches, while sharing a broad vision of hope and healing through music. I offer sincere gratitude to the chapter and interlude authors, who have offered us much to contemplate and envision. I also thank the international collective of abstract and manuscript reviewers for their invaluable insights: Bruce Benson, Terry Biddington, Ian Bradley, Liora Bresler, Maria Busen-Smith, Amira Ehrlich, Jane Erricker, Christopher Findlay, Anne-Marie Forbes, John Habron, Graham Harvey, Frank Heuser, Gavin Hopps, Ruth Illman, Brian Inglis, Marian Liebmann, Christo Lombaard, George Lotter, Koji Matsunobu, John Moxon, Hetta Potgieter, Noah Potvin, Susan Quindag, Stephen Roberts, Gareth Dylan Smith, Tawnya Smith, Giorgos Tsiris, Liesl Van der Merwe, Etienne Viviers, and Katherine Zeserson.

I offer heartfelt thanks to research assistants Cheryl Freeze and Delaney Finn for their thoughtful and thorough editing of every manuscript in this volume. Their dedication, time, and attention to detail have been truly remarkable, and their work has made the timely publication of this volume possible. I would like to thank June for inviting her to collaborate on this project, and for sharing generously of her wisdom, energy, and friendship. I am grateful as always to Tawnya for her unfailing patience and support, and for many dear friends and colleagues who have provided much-needed humor. I also acknowledge the unexpected musical gifts of encouragement and direction that were offered by my former student Sarah Huppi, and former choir director Robert Nakea, who – quite serendipitously – each sent me heartfelt videos of themselves playing music within the very hours that I finished this project. Clearly there are angels on earth.

– Karin S. Hendricks, Associate Professor and Chair, Music Education, Boston University

←xiii | xiv→I am very grateful for a group of people around me during the pandemic who have encouraged me and supported me to keep going including Sue Lawes, David McDonald, the Very Rev James Atwell (now sadly deceased), the Rev David Page, Henry Morgan, Penny Toller, Dr. Carol Boulter, Diane Berry MBE, Hannah Stanislaus, Jana Richvalska, Della Edwards, the community of All Saints Church Tooting, the Rev Elizabeth Baxter from Holy Rood House, and Althea de Carteret. Some of these papers came from the last conference of the Tavener Centre and the Centre for the Arts and Wellbeing at the University of Winchester who supported me in my academic life, including especially Professor Simon Jobson, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Professor Joy Carter, the Vice Chancellor, Dr. Terry Biddington, The Dean of Spiritual Life, Professor Inga Bryden Head of Research in the Arts Faculty, Dr. David Walters Convenor of the Centre and Holly Pye, the administrator. The steering group of Music Spirituality and Wellbeing, some of whom are represented in this volume, keep the energy of this series going: The Rev Dr. Stephen Roberts, Dr. Brian Inglis, Dr. Amira Ehrlich, Dr. Giorgos Tsiris, Maria Soriano, Professor Tawnya Smith, my three colleagues from North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa, Professor Chris van Rhyn, Professor Liesl Van der Merwe and Professor Hetta Potgieter, and finally Professor Karin Hendricks, my co-editor, with whom it is wonderful to cooperate. Professional colleagues who have encouraged the idea include Neil Valentine, Dr. Vicky Feldwick, Dr. Olu Taiwo, and Meta Killick. I am also grateful to Petra Griffiths of the Living Spirituality Network and the forming of the group interested in the Spirituality of Music within that organization. The Rev Jonathan Evens from HeartEdge at St. Martins in the Fields has also been very encouraging. Without Lucy Melville at Peter Lang this series would never have happened. Alongside me through the pandemic have been my two sons, Matthew and Richard, and my beautiful granddaughter Scarlett. Without all these people to continue my creative work would have been impossible. I am profoundly grateful.

– The Rev Professor June Boyce-Tillman, Professor Emerita of Applied Music University of Winchester; Extraordinary Professor at North-West University, South Africa; Associate of the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts, St. Andrews University, Scotland

←2 | 3→

karin s. hendricks and june boyce-tillman

1 Music, Connection, and Authenticity

By the end of March 2020, the world’s citizens were fully engaged in a global quarantine to minimize the spread of the respiratory virus COVID-19. Unlike the pandemic of 1918, the COVID-19 “social distancing” exercise was accompanied by technological tools that allowed us to connect virtually, beyond our individual places of shelter and into the living rooms of others anywhere else across the world. Introverts breathed a sigh of relief at the opportunity to stay at and work from home, while extroverts looked for ways to use various technologies to fill their energy repositories through human connection.

At this unprecedented time of virtual connection, two activities in particular began to fill social media networks: storytelling and music, both of which have been mechanisms for human connection since primal times (Boyce-Tillman, 2000; Hendricks, under review; Solórzano & Yosso, 2002). Well-known performers such as Josh Gad, Betty White, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jimmy Fallon read children’s stories to youth – and simultaneously reminded many adults of the need for the children in all of us to be soothed at times of crisis (Cadden, 2020). Meanwhile, countless videos of musicians began to emerge with musical messages of hope, encouragement and humor (Tennessee Performing Arts Center, 2020), and even admonitions to wash our hands regularly and stay at home (Frishberg, 2020). Global virtual music events such as Lady Gaga’s Together at Home fundraiser, which raised over $128 million for the World Health Organization, provided musical artists and fans across the world a space to collectively process the grief and shock of the pandemic, create global solidarity, and honor frontline workers (Watercutter, 2020). Such acts of sharing stories and music remotely helped people continue to connect emotionally and spiritually despite physical separation.←3 | 4→

The difference between authentic versus virtual connection became more apparent than ever during the 2020 pandemic, as sheltered-in-place individuals who had an abundance of technologies for human interaction nevertheless demonstrated an overwhelming need to connect emotionally and spiritually with others – turning en masse to the mechanisms of music to do so. It seems fitting in this unprecedented era of virtual connection to more fully articulate the qualities of authentic connection, and to demonstrate the ways in which music is uniquely poised to facilitate the latter even in some of the most challenging and physically isolating times.

The Essence of Authentic Connection

The essence of authentic connection has been described in the context of compassionate music teaching (Hendricks, 2018a) as a spiritual experience that might occur between co-musickers who have fostered a collective space of trust, empathy, inclusion, and community. It is also present in instances of musical entrainment, where individuals in a group coordinate movement through synchronous musical activity (Boyce-Tillman, 2016; Clayton, 2012; Clayton et al., 2005). Although we acknowledge that rhythmic entrainment has the possibility to lead to either positive or negative group outcomes,1 this volume focuses on the ways in which mutual musical engagement can lead to healthful, life-giving experiences of emotional effervescence (see Collins, 2004; Durkheim, 1912/1995; Emdin, 2016), communitas (Turner, 2012), and eudaimonia (Boyce-Tillman, 2020; Smith & Silverman, 2020).

Furthermore, although it is possible to engage in electrifying musical rituals that connect people in myriad forms of spiritual experience, in this volume we focus specifically on those experiences that also invoke a sense of authenticity. Here, the notion of authentic connection extends beyond connection to others, to include connection within oneself (Boyce-Tillman, ←4 | 5→2016), as an experience of heart/mind coherence (see Childre & Martin, 1999). The authors consider ways in which musickers might look inward and outward with self- and other-awareness, demonstrating a willingness to be vulnerable as their authentic selves are exposed – and challenged – through activities of musical and emotional risk-taking.

Chapters and interludes address topics such as relationship building, community, wellbeing, therapy, education, and ecology, each describing various ways in which individuals connect authentically with themselves, others, the music they make, and the physical and spiritual world around them. Broader concepts that inform this work include:

  • Attunement (Kossack, 2009)
  • Authenticity and integrity (Hendricks, 2018a; Palmer, 2017)
  • Caring and compassion (Hendricks, 2018a; Noddings, 1984, 2012; Silverman, 2012, 2013)
  • Communicative musicality (Malloch & Trevarthen, 2009)
  • Communitas (Turner, 2012)
  • Community and hospitality (Boyce-Tillman, 2000, 2016; Higgins, 2007, 2008; Higgins & Campbell, 2010)
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion (Emdin, 2016; Hendricks, 2018a, 2018b, in press; Smith & Hendricks, 2021; Spellers, 2006)
  • Ecology and ecophilosophy (Boyce-Tillman, 2016, 2020; Macy & Brown, 2014)
  • Empathy (Eisenberg & Strayer, 1990; Hendricks, 2018a)
  • Entrainment (Boyce-Tillman, 2000, 2016; Leonard, 1978; McCraty et al., 1996)
  • Eudaimonia (Boyce-Tillman, 2020; Smith & Silverman, 2020)
  • Emotional effervescence (Collins, 2004; Durkheim, 1912/1995; Emdin, 2016; Williams, 2021)
  • Mindfulness (Boyce-Tillman, 2016; Chödron, 2004, 2007)
  • Musicking (Small, 1998)
  • Pentecostal Pedagogy (Emdin, 2016)
  • Relationality (Buber, 1970)
  • Trust (Hendricks, 2018a; Hoy & Tschannen-Moran, 1999; Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2000)
  • Vulnerability and risk-taking (Boyce-Tillman, 2016; Hendricks, 2018a; Higgins & Campbell, 2010; Palmer, 2017)

←5 | 6→

Chapters and interludes provide nuanced views of the ways in which musicking and authentic connection stimulate and reinforce one another.

Music and Authenticity in the Contemporary Context: Individualism, Community, and Negotiations of Diversity

In our current global world, the polarity of individualism/community (Boyce-Tillman, 2000) regularly appears at the forefront of lived experience. Technological connections bring individuals together in community from all parts of the world, including as we make music together in new and innovative ways (Boyce-Tillman, in press). The COVID-19 pandemic offered a distinctive opportunity for individual and collective self-reflection:

[It] was a unique global situation in which every human being was forced to take pause – for safety and health – because much of the world was on lockdown. We were all forced to share a new reality, one that created a new global community. (Williams, 2021, p. 121)

This new global community has brought a novel set of challenges, however, as we have had to rely on the actions of strangers to keep us healthy and safe – yet as opinions about how to accomplish this are as diverse as is the global population. Pandemic life is illustrated poignantly by the experience of virtual choirs and instrumental ensembles, where a viewer (separated in time and space from the performance) watches numerous boxes of individuals with varied backdrops, each striving to do their part with a hope to not only survive, but thrive through virtual music-making. These act of vicarious musicking – while critical for maintaining a sense of community – nevertheless act as a painful reminder of our present physical isolation.

Not only is separation particularly tangible at this time, but also our awareness of our diversity as humans (Smith & Hendricks, 2021; Spellers, ←6 | 7→2016). Several authors in this volume address simultaneous global crises of racism, nationalism, environmental injustice, and associated climate catastrophes. Although we share a natural drive toward human connection, efforts toward inclusion in a pluralistic world cannot happen without a fair amount of negotiation (Spellers, 2016). In this volume, Stephen Roberts addresses the negotiation of difference in “Music and Spirituality in a Polyphonic Public Sphere,” using religious diversity and music as a starting point to envision creative interactions that might forge new and authentic understandings. Bruce Benson’s chapter “Improvisation as Spiritual Exercise” further deepens the discourse surrounding negotiation, by articulating how attunement in musical improvisation requires empathy, which in turn requires humility and trust.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (August)
Music spirituality community Authentic Connection Karin Hendricks
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2021. XIV, 382 pp., 12 fig. b/w, 3 tables.

Biographical notes

Karin Hendricks (Author) June Boyce-Tillman (Author)

Karin S. Hendricks is Associate Professor of Music and Chair of Music Education at Boston University. She has served as an instrumental music clinician, adjudicator, and workshop presenter throughout the United States and abroad. Karin Hendricks has served in state, national, and international music education leadership positions, including as national secretary and research committee chair for the American String Teachers Association, and on the Editorial Committee for the Journal of Research in Music Education. Her research interests include music psychology, motivation, and social justice in music learning settings, with a particular focus on positive student-teacher relationships. She publishes regularly in leading research journals and edited books, and makes a particular effort to present research findings to music teachers in meaningful and approachable ways. She was the 2018 recipient of the American String Teachers Association «Emerging String Researcher» Award. Before moving to the university level, Karin enjoyed a successful public school orchestra career for 13 years, where she received local, state, and national awards for her teaching. Karin Hendricks has published six books, including Compassionate Music Teaching. June Boyce-Tillman read music at Oxford University and is Professor Emerita of Applied Music at the University of Winchester. She has published widely in the area of education and music, often on spirituality/liminality and eudaimonia. Her doctoral research into children’s musical development has been translated into five languages and supported the development of improvisatory activities in the classroom. She has written about and organised events in the area of interfaith dialogue using music, currently the international improvising Peace Choir on ZOOM. She has held visiting fellowships at Indiana University and the Episcopal Divinity School in Massachusetts, US. She is an international performer, especially in the work of Hildegard of Bingen. Her large-scale works for cathedrals such as Winchester, Southwark and Norwich UK involve professional musicians, community choirs, people with disabilities and school children. She is the convenor of Music, Spirituality and Wellbeing international (www.mswinternational.org). She is series editor of the Music and Spirituality series of Peter Lang, to which she has contributed 3 single-authored books and several co-authored or co-edited books. She is an Extra-ordinary Professor at North West University, South Africa. She is an ordained Anglican priest and serves All Saints Church in South London.


Title: Authentic Connection