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AUMI is a group effort. For more than ten years researchers, programmers, therapists, artists, and musicians have been working on making community through inclusive musical improvisation.

Research Team (Core)

Pauline Oliveros

(Principal Investigator and Coordinator of AUMI, 2006-2016)

Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016) influenced American music extensively in her career spanning more than 60 years as a composer, performer, author and philosopher. She pioneered the concept of Deep Listening, her practice based upon principles of improvisation, electronic music, ritual, teaching and meditation, designed to inspire both trained and untrained musicians to practice the art of listening and responding to environmental conditions in solo and ensemble situations. During the mid-'60s she served as the first director of the Tape Music Center at Mills College, aka Center for Contemporary Music followed by 14-years as Professor of Music and 3 years as Director of the Center for Music Experiment at the University of California at San Diego. From 2001 until her passing in November 2016, she served as Distinguished Research Professor of Music in the Arts department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) where she engaged in research on a National Science Foundation CreativeIT project. Her research interests included improvisation, special needs interfaces and telepresence teaching and performing. She also served as Darius Milhaud Composer in Residence at Mills College doing telepresence teaching and was the executive director of Deep Listening Institute, Ltd. (which until where she leads projects in Deep Listening, Adaptive Use Interface. She is the recipient of the 2009 William Schuman Award from Columbia University for lifetime achievement. A retrospective from 1960 to 2010 was performed at Miller Theater, Columbia University in New York March 27, 2010 in conjunction with the Schuman award. She received a third honorary degree from DeMontort University, Leicester, UK July 23, 2010. Recent recordings include Pauline Oliveros & Miya Masaoka and Pauline Oliveros & Chris Brown on Deep Listening.

Leaf Miller

Leaf Miller is a professional musician, teacher and instrument builder, playing drums and percussion in the World Music Tradition for over 40 years. She was an occupational therapist at Abilities First School in Poughkeepsie, NY, where she piloted the AUMI( Adaptive Use Musical Instrument) prototype in 2007, and led an inclusive weekly improvisational drum circle using AUMI. She is the musical director of Women Who Drum, a multi-media project dedicated to women’s world drumming traditions. Leaf has been an occupational therapist since 1988. In her work with children with special needs, she strives to incorporate the healing benefits of drumming with her clinical training in human movement and development. She has been a primary collaborator with Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Institute and RPI from the beginning of the AUMI Project, with the goal of developing and providing alternative musical instruments for people with physical challenges. Leaf leads AUMI Trainings, hands-on workshops and Soundlabs nationally and internationally which focus on using AUMI to improvise across abilities, in variety of community, school, and arts settings.

Jonas Braasch

(Director of the Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture, where AUMI is Headquartered)

Jonas Braasch, Associate Professor in the School of Architecture and Director of the Center for Cognition, Communication, and Culture, is a psychoacoustician, aural architect, and experimental musician. His research work focuses on functional models of the auditory system, large-scale immersive and interactive virtual reality systems, and intelligent music systems. Currently, he is interested in binaural models that can handle room reflections and simulate head movements. He is also working on an intelligent music agent, Caira, to understand and simulate human creativity in the context of Free Music improvisation. His publications and recordings include: "A cybernetic model approach for Free Jazz improvisations," Kybernetes 40/7–8 (2011), 984–994 and the recording, Quartet for the End of Space (Pogus Records 2011), with Pauline Oliveros, digital accordion; Francisco López (electronics), Doug Van Nort (electronics), Jonas Braasch (soprano saxophone), which contains 8 electroacoustic compositions (2 from each composer) based on improvised session material with the ensemble.

Thomas Ciufo

(Technical Support and Programming)

Thomas Ciufo (Assistant Professor of Music, Mount Holyoke College) is a sound artist, composer, improviser, and researcher working at the intersections of electroacoustic performance, interactive instrument design, sonic art and emerging digital technologies. Additional research interests include audio recording and production, acoustic ecology and listening practices, and innovative approaches to teaching, learning, and career development. International festival presentations or performances include Visiones Sonoras in Mexico City, the Enaction in Arts Conference in France, the New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference (Vancouver, Genoa, Montreal and Ann Arbor) as well as numerous conference presentations for the International Computer Music Society and International Society for Improvised Music. As a Faculty Innovation Hire in Digital Music and Music Entrepreneurship at Mount Holyoke College, Thomas is currently developing new courses and facilities to support student explorations in creative music technology. He is also a faculty affiliate in the MHC Makerspace.

Henry Lowengard

(AUMI for iOS Designer/Programmer)

Kingston NY based composer and programmer Henry Lowengard has been creating experimental computer music, and the programs to create it, since the early 70s.
He has performed with Nancy O. Graham in some of Ione's Deep Listening Dream Festivals, and Dr. Oliveros used his droning iOS apps in her piece DroniPhonia (2009). He is currently in the band Mamalama, playing hammered dulcimer, glockenspiel, melodica, and tenor recorder, and plays with the Catskill Mountain Gamelan, playing various instruments.
He is also the developer of the related AUMI Sings project, and the webmaster for this site!
Look for him online by searching for "jhhl", and reading and .

John Sullivan

(AUMI Desktop Developer)

John Sullivan is a musician, music technology researcher and Ph.D. candidate at McGill University whose work focuses on the design of new instruments and technologies for music and multimedia performance. His current research includes projects in motion capture and movement analysis of live performance, development and testing of of haptic interfaces, and user-driven methodologies for the design and evaluation of digital musical instruments. As a musician, Sullivan has been a part of several indie rock groups from the northeastern US. He has released several albums under various names, and toured extensively in the US, Canada, and Europe.


(Founding Consultant & AUMI Dream Facilitator)

Ione is an author/playwright/director and an improvising text/sound artist. Her works include her memoire. Pride of Family; Four Generations of American Women of Color, a NY Time Notable book on its publication. Nile Night, Remembered Texts from The Deep, Listening in Dreams & This is a Dream! And Spell Breaking Anthologies of Women’s Mysteries #1 and 2. She is playwright and director of Njinga the Queen King (BAM's Next Wave Festival), the dance opera Io and Her and the Trouble with Him (Union Theater, Wisconsin), The Lunar Opera; Deep Listening For_Tunes, (Lincoln Center Out of Doors) and the experimental narrative film Dreams of the Jungfrau, shot high in the Swiss Alps. All feature music and sound design by Pauline Oliveros. Their opera, The Nubian Word for Flowers, A Phantom Opera, Inspired by the Nubian Diaspora and the life of Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener of Khartoum, will premiere at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn, NY on November 30, 2017. A specialist in dreams and the creative process, Ione conducts retreats throughout the world. Ione is the Founding Director of the Ministry of Maåt, Inc ( MoM, Inc) and ​Former ​Artistic Director of Deep Listening Institute, Ltd. ​She is ​a Deep Listening Certification Instructor, Center for Deep Listening, Rensse​laer, Troy, NY

Ellen Waterman (Coordinator, AUMI-Memorial)

Ellen Waterman is an ethnomusicologist and a flutist specializing in creative improvisation. Waterman’s interdisciplinary research interests range across improvisation, contemporary performance, gender, technology, ecomusicology, and acoustic ecology. With Gillian Siddall, she is co-editor of Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity (Duke 2016). Her work on gender, sound, and technology includes a special issue of the journal Intersections: Journal of Canadian Music 26.2 (2006), co-edited with Andra McCartney. Her books on acoustic ecology and sound art include Sonic Geography Imagined and Remembered (2002) and The Art of Immersive Soundscapes (with Pauline Minevich, 2013). She has been a member of the AUMI Research Team since 2009. From 2010 to 2015 Waterman was dean of the School of Music at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2015-16 she was Bye Fellow at Robinson College, University of Cambridge.

Gillian Siddall (Coordinator, AUMI-OCAD)

Gillian Siddall, Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Ontario College of Art and Design, She is the author of several publications on bodies and improvisation: “A Musical Interface for People with Severe Physical Disabilities (co-authored with Pauline Oliveros, Leaf Miller, Jaclyn Heyen, and Sergio Hazard). Music and Medicine (2011); "'I want to live in that music': Blues, Bessie Smith and Improvised Identities in Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees. " Critical Studies in Improvisation (2005); and "Nice Work if You Can Get It: Women in Jazz" (co-authored with Ajay Heble), Landing on the Wrong Note: Jazz, Dissonance and Critical Practice (2000). With Ellen Waterman, she co-edited Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound, and Subjectivity (Duke University Press, 2016). Siddall is a jazz vocalist, a co-founder of the legendary Guelph Jazz Festival, and a member of the SSHRC-MCRI Improvisation Community and Social Practice project.

Eric Lewis (McGill University)

Eric Lewis is the director of the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas at McGill University, where he is a professor of philosophy. His research focuses on the philosophy of improvised arts. He is also an active improviser on brass and electronics. His AUMI work includes a long-time collaboration with the MacKay Centre School in Montreal and the occupational therapy program at McGill.

Jesse Stewart (AUMI-Carleton)

Jesse Stewart is an award-winning composer, percussionist, artist, researcher, writer, and educator dedicated to re-imagining the spaces between artistic and academic disciplines. His music has been documented on over twenty recordings including Stretch Orchestra’s self-titled debut album, which received the 2012 "Instrumental Album of the Year" Juno award. He has been widely commissioned as a composer and artist, and has performed and exhibited internationally. In 2012, he founded the We Are All Musicians (WAAM) project, through which he uses various adaptive use musical instruments to enable people who have experienced barriers to making music historically (because of disability, poverty, and/or a lack of musical training) to make music in a supportive, inclusive setting. He is a music professor at Carleton University and an adjunct professor in the Visual Arts program at the University of Ottawa.

Sherrie Tucker (Coordinator, AUMI-KU InterArts)

Sherrie Tucker (Professor, American Studies, University of Kansas) is the author of Dance Floor Democracy: the Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen (Duke, 2014), Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s (Duke, 2000) and co-editor, with Nichole T. Rustin, of Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies (Duke, 2008). She is a member of two major collaborative research initiatives: International Institute of Critical Improvisation Studies and Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (for which she served as facilitator for the Improvisation, Gender, and the Body research area) both funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. She is a founding member of the Melba Liston Research Collective, a member of the AUMI (Adaptive Use Musical Instrument) research team of the Deep Listening Institute, and founding member of AUMI-KU InterArts, one of six member institutions of the AUMI Research Consortium. She was the Louis Armstrong Visiting Professor at the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University in 2004-2005, where she was a member of the Columbia Jazz Study Group. With Randal M. Jelks, she co-edits the journal American Studies. She serves with Deborah Wong and Jeremy Wallach as Series Editors for the Music/Culture Series at Wesleyan University Press.

Sergio Hazard

Sergio Hazard, is a teacher, music therapist, biodynamic craniosacral therapist, and director of the Biosintonización® project in Santiago, Chile, where his focus is the development and creation of programs for the well‐being and health of people and the community. His areas of specialization are Personal Development and Neurorehabilitation with children, youth and adults. He joined the AUMI Research team in 2008, and was a co-author on the first scholarly publication on the AUMI, "A Musical Improvisation Interface for People with Severe Physical Disabilities," Music and Medicine, July 2011. Between 2011 and 2012, he taught on "Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders", Faculty of Medicine ‐ Graduate School and MEDICHI ‐ Distance Education Program of the Universidad de Chile. From 2009 to 2011, he held a position in the Sound Arts program of the Department of Music and Sonology at the Universidad de Chile, while also working on the creation of the Assistive Technology Unit and the start‐up, development and operation of the "Music Therapy and Music Technology Program" in patients with spinal cord injury, brain injury, special needs and multiple challenges at the National Institute of Children's Rehabilitation ‐ TELETÓN, Santiago.

Researchers (On-Site)

Abbey Dvorak (AUMI-KU InterArts)

Abbey Dvorak, PhD, MT-BC, Assistant Professor of Music Education and Music Therapy at the University of Kansas is a member of AUMI-KU InterArts since 2014, co-facilitator of "Do You AUMI?" community jams and recording sessions, and a member of a research team using the AUMI to work with people who have profound intellectual and multiple disabilities. She received her PhD in Music Education/Music Therapy and MA and Equivalency in Music Therapy from the University of Iowa, and her BA in Music Education from Briar Cliff University. Dvorak worked as a music therapist in the Department of Rehabilitation Therapies at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics from 2004-2011 and received the Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Grant Award from the American Music Therapy Association for her work with cancer patients and caregivers. Dvorak serves on the Editorial Board for Music Therapy Perspectives.

Laurel Forshaw

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, ON, Laurel Forshaw now calls Toronto home. Laurel holds a Master of Arts in Music Education (Choral Conducting) and Kodaly and Orff-Schulwerk certification from the University of St. Thomas, MN. She is currently a PhD in Music Education candidate at the University of Toronto and conductor of the Strata Vocal Ensemble in Hamilton, ON, a mixed voice chamber choir. In Thunder Bay, Laurel was the Artistic Director of the Dulcisono Women’s Choir, and founder and AD of the Rafiki Youth Choir. She was a contract lecturer at Lakehead University, teaching conducting courses for the Department of Music. Dedicated to providing singing opportunities for all, Laurel created a Kodaly-based program for adult women to learn music literacy and vocal skills in a choral setting. She also provided professional development and facilitated learning labs for the itinerant music teachers of the Lakehead Public School Board.

Kip Haaheim (AUMI-KU InterArts)

Kip Haaheim, Professor, Music Theory and Music Composition, University of Kansas, is a composer, musician, and digital artist focused on electro-acoustic music involving multi-media. He is a founding member of AUMI-KU InterArts (2012) and co-facilitator of "Do You AUMI?" community jams and recording sessions. His body of work includes experimental videos, chamber music, audio installations, and various electro-acoustic compositions; he also composed and produced the score for Ryan Jones's documentary film Fall from Grace and Kevin Wilmott's feature film The Only Good Indian. In his electro-acoustic music he often mixes live musicians with computer-processed sounds and tends to favor live performance over fixed-media. Haaheim's most recent work often features improvisation and the use of non-traditional methods of controlling audio playback and processing.

Michelle Heffner Hayes (AUMI-KU InterArts)

Michelle Heffner-Hayes, Professor and Chair, Department of Dance, The University of Kansas is a dancer, choreographer, theorist, and flamenco studies scholar, whose work is steeped in postmodern dance improvisation and improvisation studies. Heffner-Hayes is a founding member of AUMI-KU InterArts (2012). The Kansas Arts Commission awarded Hayes the 2009 Mid-Career Artist Fellowship in Choreography. Select publications by Hayes include parallels in postmodern dance improvisation and flamenco (Taken By Surprise: An Improvisational Reader, 2003) and discussions of contemporary flamenco on film (Dancing Bodies, Living Histories: New Writings on Dance and Culture, 2000). Her book Flamenco: Conflicting Histories of the Dance was published by McFarland in 2009. Most recently, Hayes contributed to and co-edited Flamenco on the Global Stage: New Writings in Flamenco Dance Studies with K. Meira Goldberg and Ninotchka Bennahum (McFarland, 2015).

Nicole Hodges Persley (AUMI-KU InterArts)

Nicole Hodges Persley, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre, The University of Kansas. She was a founding member of AUMI-KU InterArts (2012) and director of the improvisation, multimedia, AUMI-inspired community performance, "UnRolling the Boulder: Improvising New Communities," in October 2013. Her research interests include race and performance, African American theater, transnationalism, Hip-hop studies, improvisation, intermediality and black popular culture. Hodges Persley is an active member of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), the American Studies Association (ASA) and American Society for Theatre Research(ASTR). She serves as the member-at-large of the Black Theatre Association and is the former chair of the American Studies Association's Women's Committee (2013-2014). She is an actress, director, producer and member of SAG/AFTRA and AEA.

Keiko Shikako-Thomas (AUMI-McGill)

Keiko Shikako-Thomas is an Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, McGill University, whose research focuses on "the promotion of healthy living and participation for children with disabilities." Her research program uses a "a participatory methodology to engage different stakeholders, including policymakers, children and their families, in finding solutions to change the environment, inform policymaking and promote participation of children with disabilities in different life roles and activities."

Lise Vaugeois

bio forthcoming


Former AUMI Developers

Former Trainer/Teacher