I am an existential-phenomenological psychologist, composer, pianist, and trombonist based in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I was classically trained in orchestral trombone performance at The Mannes School of Music (The New School) in NYC and at The Royal Conservatory of Brussels in Belgium. Composing contemporary solo piano music and playing improvisational trombone are some of my greatest pleasures. My primary teachers have been Paul Schocker (piano & composition), Timmothy Soberick, Per Brevig, and Ivan Meylemans (trombone). I have also been fortunate to study theory with Carl Schachter as well as occasional trombone coachings with Dave Taylor, Joe Alessi, and Dave Finlayson.
I received a primary Montessori education, which continues to influence my thinking and teaching today. In my twenties I served as a trombonist with the Orquesta Filarmonica de Lima, in Peru, under Maestro Miguel Harth-Bedoya. In my younger years I enjoyed being principal trombonist of Carnegie Hall’s New York Youth Symphony. That was an exciting time in my life as I was able to perform with Gary Graffman, Joshua Bell, and Kurt Masur. Throughout my twenties touring with symphony orchestras in China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, and throughout Europe was a great way to see the world.
In 1998 I published my first album Collected Songs. In 2018 I wrote & recorded a collection of contemporary solo piano pieces entitled Ode. Currently I am writing and recording my second album of contemporary solo piano pieces.
In 1999 I discovered an interest in psychology and philosophy. I went on to do graduate work in both areas and have worked as a psychotherapist and as a college professor for the past twenty years. Since 2013 I have devoted myself to the study of Buddhist psychology, existential-phenomenology, as well as performing/creative artist’s issues.
As an independent scholar who holds a master’s degree in psychodynamic psychology and a doctorate in interdisciplinary studies from The New School for Social Research and the EGS in Switzerland, I have lectured in the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University at Newark since 2006. I teach undergraduate courses in the history and philosophy of psychology, media psychology, abnormal & advanced abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology, human development, critical psychology, and the psychology of religion. My first book, A Postcognitive Negation: The Sadomasochistic Dialectic of American Psychology, was published by Atropos Press in 2010.
I consider my two greatest accomplishments of my time as a professor to be the successful nomination of Newark native, saxophonist, Wayne Shorter being awarded an honorary doctorate from Rutgers University, as well as the design and adoption of the first undergraduate media psychology course to be part of the Rutgers Newark curriculum.
Writing is an important part of my life. I have written five books on psychology, philosophy, and music. I am fortunate to have studied creative process with Helene Cixous, Judith Butler, Antony Gormley, Bracha Ettinger, Peter Greenaway, Claire Denis, and Wolfgang Schirmacher.
Muse & Psyche, LLC is the combination of two worlds: music and psychology. Muse & Psyche is a company providing musical services, books, recordings, videos, articles, and a podcast to foster creativity & well-being through creative music-making. Muse is the Ancient Greek to think, to inspire and refers to the inspiration of music. Psyche (pronounced psy-key) is the animating spirit or the soul. Services include individual instruction, artist’s counseling/ coaching, & workshops to cultivate self-actualization through creative music-making and psychological principles. I write a monthly expert blog for Psychology Today called Mindfulness & Music.
“My desire is for the student to see the world, yet again -as if for the first time.”
G.K. Chesterton, that British paradoxicalist, famously declared “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”. This soul that Chesterton spoke of is not limited to the cultural artifacts, ideologies, and “knowledge” that often fills textbooks, notebooks, and lectures, but rather, that immeasurable and unobservable phenomenon that somehow ignites curiosity, passion, and fills one with the sense of possibility.
Education (from the Latin educere “bring out, lead forth,” from ex– “out”
(ex) + ducere “to lead,”) is a bringing out from within. We speak here not of knowledge but rather of information. The intention is to bring out of others, those we call students, that thing within themselves that they have not recognized. Namely, we seek to introduce the student to their ability to evaluate, challenge, criticize, champion, and contribute to the information that makes up that very soul of a society that Chesterton spoke of. The pupil, in this way, is guided in the ability to think critically for themselves rather than being quelled into passive recipients of facts. Quite suddenly the scholar is introduced to the world of intelligent appraisal and not knowledge commodification. The information becomes the workable material with which they now do something with.
Critical thought is not a strict adherence to logic alone, but also, an exploration of the illogical. The limitations of the Enlightenment fixation of the rational is contrasted with the human dialectic of the very real irrational. And the method of criticism, which is the hallmark of so much of what our systems of knowing are built on today, are folded back on themselves in an attempt towards commentary on the method of critique itself. Put plainly, the student becomes a self-reliant thinker rather than a dependent warehouse of “facts.
In the Eastern (oftentimes Buddhist) tradition teachers are reminded that each pupil has mastered something that the teacher themselves struggles with. Although the role of the teacher is to bring forth the student towards mastery it is not the role of the teacher to dominate. Maria Montessori advised the teacher to remain awake, when teaching, to the way we view our students. If we take a one-dimensional view of the student-teacher relationship we risk shaping the student into a submissive, obedientconsumer of knowledge, rather than what Erich Fromm called a biophilic, authentic, Being of knowledge. As educators we are not only leveraging on what a student has to think about, but also, how they go about thinking.
In the tradition of Renaissance thinkers such as Leonardo & Spinoza and the Postmodern dwellers Derrida & Heidegger, we take an interdisciplinary approach to thinking. Interdisciplinary thinking does not satisfy itself with artificial distinctions between this system of knowledge and that, or between this academic division or that, rather it considers the systems of distinction themselves. In this way connections between the systems of sciences and arts are explored as new territories typically viewed as borders now considered as frontiers. The classroom is a place to model exploration and boundary challenging -not boundary setting.