Divergent Musicalities: Teaching, Learning, Sharing and Making Music Across the Autism Spectrum

Schedule of Events

October 16
7:00 - 8:30pm


PNC Recital Hall
Mary Pappert School of Music
Duquesne University

Presentations and performances

October 17
10:00am - 3:00pm


Thomas D. Pappert Center for Performance and Innovation
Mary Pappert School of Music
Duquesne University

A series of workshops led by our speakers, musicians, and consultants


Since this event is open to the public we ask that all attendees provide proof of vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of the event as well as comply with all current Duquesne University policies regarding masks and indoor spaces.  Information on the University's policies can be found at duq.edu/COVID-19.

Music is an important part of life for many people on the autism spectrum. However, music teachers and other creative collaborators sometimes feel uncertain about how to teach, learn, and share music with people on the spectrum.

At the two-day Divergent Musicalities symposium, we will gain experience with sharing music across neurological difference. Through presentations, performances, and workshops, attendees will learn from musicians on the autism spectrum, music educators, and researchers studying the connections between autism and music. Through working with these consultants, attendees will gain greater confidence in their ability to co-create inclusive spaces where musicians across the spectrum of neurological difference can participate, learn, and grow in their creative practice.


Michael Bakan photo

Michael Bakan, Ph.D.
Michael Bakan is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the World Music Ensembles Program in the College of Music at Florida State University. His more than 70 publications include the books Music & Autism: Speaking for Ourselves (Oxford, 2021), World Music: Traditions and Transformations (McGraw-Hill, 3rd ed., 2019), and Music of Death and New Creation: Experiences in the World of Balinese Gamelan Beleganjur (Chicago, 1999). He serves as series editor of the Routledge Focus on World Music Series and on the International Advisory Board of Ethnomusicology Forum, formerly served on the Board of Directors of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Central Fellowships Committee of the American Council of Learned Societies, and has performed and recorded as a percussionist with George Clinton and the legendary funk band Parliament, John Cage, Tito Puente, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and several leading gamelan ensembles in Bali, Indonesia.

Jennifer Msumba photo

Jennifer Msumba
Jennifer Msumba is an author, songwriter, musician and award winning filmmaker. She is a Sundance Institute fellow, as well as a member of American Mensa. Her debut book is titled Shouting At Leaves. Jennifer lives in Florida with her best canine friend Lemonade, where they enjoy outdoor music, fishing, and late-night ice cream runs.  Learn more at https://www.jennifermsumba.com.

Lina Horwitz photo

Lina Horwitz
Born in South Korea, Lina was adopted at five months old by a Jewish family in Rochester, NY. She began violin studies at the age of five, starting with the Suzuki Method. She was in the studio of Mikhail Kopelman at one of the top music conservatories in the country, Eastman School of Music. Lina now lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her toddler son, and enjoys teaching violin as well as playing in musicals, chamber music, at churches, with a band, and in orchestras.

photo of john vento

John Vento
Band Together Pittsburgh was founded in early 2016 by John Vento & Ron "Moondog" Esser

John Vento, a successful Pittsburgh businessman, returned to music to front The Nied's Hotel Band, voted Pittsburgh's Best Bar Band - 2016. Through his performances, he has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for charity. His leadership, generosity and work ethic are well known throughout the Pittsburgh music scene. John loves to perform and wants to share that experience with those on the Autism spectrum.

photo of tom georgio Thomas Georgi
After studies at Cornell University and State University of New York at Stony Brook, Thomas Georgi moved to Australia to become a violinist in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. After ten years in the sunshine, he moved back to North America to play with Tafelmusik. In 2017 he was honoured for his work on the viola d'amore when Anatoma georgii, a new species of Alaskan marine snail, was named for "naturalist and viola d'amore virtuoso, scholar, and teacher Thomas (Tom) Georgi for his masterful and nuanced interpretation of early music, particularly his tasteful gestures and ornamentation, and for generously sharing his wealth of knowledge with players around the world." Tom's solo recordings for the Bis label may be heard for free at bis.se. His website, violadamore.com promotes the wider understanding of the viola d'amore.
Tammy Hughes smiles for a photo Tammy Hughes, Ph.D.
Tammy L. Hughes, Ph.D. is a Pastā€President of both the Division of School Psychology (16) of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Trainers of School Psychologists (TSP). A fellow of the American Psychological Association, she served as the Chair of the APA's Board of Education Affairs (BEA), Chair of the Child, Adolescent and Family caucus as a Representative to the APA Council (CoR), 2019 APA Task Force to Develop a Blueprint for APA Accreditation of Master's Programs in Health Service Psychology, 2017 APA Summit on High School Psychology Education, and 2009 APA Presidential Task Force on the Future of Psychology Practice. At present, she is active in APA's Coalition for Psychology in the Schools and Interdivisional Task Force on Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Dr. Hughes is a licensed psychologist, certified school psychologist and Board Certified in School Psychology.
Joe Hnath headshot

Joe Hnath 
Joe Hnath has been singing and acting on stage since he was 9 and in local films for about 4 years. Joe has been with Band Together Pittsburgh for 2 years and is loving the opportunity to grow as an entertainer.

Patrick lah sitting near a floor piano

Patrick Lah
Patrick Lah is a multi-genre pianist, vocalist and impressionist who performs throughout the Pittsburgh area and speaks on the topics of anti-bullying and acceptance of the differently-abled. For videos and booking information, visit patricklah.com.

Justin Capozzoli smiles for a photo

Justin Cappozzoli

"I'm here; I'm alive; I exist. I was born in Warsaw, Poland, 1994. I was adopted at 11-months-old and couldn't have asked for better parents!

I am on the autism spectrum. Musically, I've been a singer since ever, a song-writer since age 8, a music producer since age 11, a DJ since age 18, and a live sound engineer since age 24. I earned my bachelor's degree in Music Industry from York College of PA, 2016."


Sponsored by Duquesne University Department of Psychology and the Mary Pappert School of Music.

Contact Elizabeth Fein at feine@duq.edu with any questions or for more information.