Chant. Lead. Serve.


If you want to learn, we are here to teach you.

Kirtan Leader Institute was born from a desire to bring students together to engage with the practice of sacred chant, from chanting at home, to making albums, touring, and playing at festivals. Launched in 2010, KLI is now a full-service school providing extensive, comprehensive, and supportive education in Western Kirtan to students of all levels in both live and online settings. Our simple, intuitive teaching methodology reaches everyone from the vibrant chant fan who doesn’t yet have their own harmonium, to the Kirtan Leader who holds a passion for this practice but needs expert guidance to go deeper. We shepherd our students on a path of diverse discovery through the study of musicianship, leadership, community building, entrepreneurship and spirituality... all of which are vital to participating in, and sharing, sacred chant.

Here at Kirtan Leader Institute, we aim to make the exquisite practice of sacred chant available to everyone, so we can all access the heart opening beauty of this practice. As we say, come for the music, stay for the transformation.

The KLI Difference

You can access chant experiences from many different sources, but Kirtan Leader Institute was built to meet you where you are and guide you on your Kirtan journey as deep, as far, and as full as you wish to go. More than merely a Kirtan teacher, KLI is a school and a community. We truly care about each of our students and place high value on fostering long-lasting relationships marked by trust, respect and dedication to your personal transformation.

As a full-service school, we offer support at every level and stage of your Kirtan journey. What truly sets us apart from other Kirtan programs is our personal touch, and our easy-to-follow methodology that teaches you how to embody playing harmonium and chanting without having to learn to read or understand Western Music or Indian Classical Music.

 As a Student You Will Enjoy:

  • Small class sizes that get smaller as class complexity increases
  • Library containing nearly 200 songs created in our easy-to-learn format
  • Real-time feedback from KLI Founder Mike Cohen in each class
  • Kirtan events to allow for practice with professional musicians (in our Level 2, 3, and 4 intensives)
  • Clear, comprehensive curriculum to guide you through each stage with ease and confidence

Meet Mike Cohen

Mike Cohen, MA is founder of Kirtan Leader Institute. Since 2010 he has trained and apprenticed thousands of aspiring and emerging Kirtan Leaders across the globe, from total beginners to dozens he has guided to create/release Kirtan albums, play at festivals and tour nationally.

A life-long musician with two decades experience developing and coaching leaders, Mike has created a curriculum that supports total newbies in quickly and easily learning to play chants from their favorite Kirtan artists (like Krishna Das and Snatam Kaur) without needing to understand or learn Western or Indian Classical music (Sargam). Training for advanced students expands beyond Musicianship into important domains such as Psycho-Spiritual Leadership, Community Building, Entrepreneurship, and Minimizing Spiritual Bypassing. Advanced training is rooted in the principles of Waking Up (Spiritual Practice), Growing Up (Psychological Practice), Cleaning Up (Shadow Work) and Opening Up (Multiple Intelligences) so we can Show Up fully; and includes teachings and practices from discourses such as Somatics, the Enneagram of Personality, Integral Theory, Ontology, Integral Unfolding, the Dattatreya lineage of Sri Kaleshwar, and more.

Mike has released four critically-acclaimed full length Kirtan albums, the most recent two with Grammy Award-nominated producer Ben Leinbach (Jai Uttal, Krishna Das, Deva Premal). Mike has articulated a cutting edge Integral Approach to Kirtan and is in the processing of writing and sharing this rich body of material.

For well over a decade, Mike has toured North America, offering accessible and potent Kirtan events in yoga studios, healing centers and at yoga/chant festivals. In 2014 he had the honor of opening up for Krishna Das at Bhakti Fest Midwest. Mike lives in Boulder, CO where he leads Kirtan and trains Kirtan Leaders to share the exquisite practice of sacred chant. More at

The KLI Team

All that we offer is made possible by an amazing team of musicians and Kirtan artists

Dawnia Dresser

Lead Instructor

Since 2017 Dawnia Dresser has taught at KLI (vocals, harmonium and guitar) and served asĀ lead singer with Mike Cohen & the Shakti Groove. Based in Boulder, CO, Dawnia is an Anusara inspired yoga teacher and lifelong vocalist/musician who released her debut Kirtan album (From the Soul) in 2019. During her 19 years in Los Angeles, CA Dawnia co-created three albums of original folk-rock music and contributed extensively on albums and movies as a vocalist and voiceover artist.

MicheleĀ Heaphy

LeadĀ Instructor

Michele Heaphyā€™s deeply moving and inspiring original chants have been delighting chant audiences in person since 2015 and globally since the release of a series of singles beginning in 2022. She is a heart centered musician who loves to share diverse original sacred chant music with western grooves and powerful mantras. She has been a member of Mike Cohen & the Shakti Groove since 2021. Prior to moving to Boulder, she had careers as a music educator and business owner.

Ken Matarazzo

Lead Drummer

Since 2017, Ken Matarazzo has taught at Kirtan Leader Institute, and been a core member of Mike Cohen & The Shakti Groove. Ken is a Boulder, CO based percussionist and teacher who has studied and performed on frame drums and afro cuban percussion since the mid 90ā€™s. Some of his teachers include master drummers Glen Velez, Layne Redmond, John Amira and Jamey Haddad.

James Hoskins

Cellist & Percussionist

Since 2017, James Hoskins has been a core member of Mike Cohen & The Shakti Groove. James is a multi-instrumentalist primarily known for his use of the cello in a wide variety of genres. In addition to singing in Greek, Arabic, Japanese, and Turkish, James has been a modern-dance accompanist for 24 years, utilizing piano, cello, all manner of drums, and percussion as available.

David Hinojosa

Lead Drummer

David Hinojosa, a world hand percussionist specializing in Middle Eastern drums and rhythms. His passion for teaching shines through in his engagement with music students, where he not only shares his expertise in hand percussion through residency programs and masterclasses at universities across the United States but also fosters a nurturing environment for aspiring musicians to explore and grow. David's approach to music and teaching underscores the unifying power of rhythm and sound, making him a dedicated figure in the landscape of music education and cross-cultural collaboration.

Issa Noor

Lead Drummer

Since 2016, Issa Noor has taught in the Kirtan Leader Institute and performed with Mike Cohen & The Shakti Groove. Issa is a Palestinian-American percussionist and is a highly skilled and internationally recognized specialist in Middle Eastern, Arabic, and North African percussion. A natural teacher, Issa has instructed and inspired all levels of drummers locally and as a guest instructor at Yale and the Chicago School of Music.Ā 

Want to Learn More?

Explore the four levels of immersive and comprehensive Kirtan educationĀ we offer here at KLI

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