Saturday, November 24, 2012

Obamacare: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Music Therapy, Part Ia

If you haven't read Part I, you can find it here.  

( apologies in advance-- while I am trying to clear away the mud so that we can figure out the essence of what exactly is the ACA, there are so many facets to the proposal that it looks like it will take me more than a three part series to simplify what is going on.  I realize this may be disheartening(!), but I hope you will stick with me through this process as it is an extremely important topic.  I promise to keep things as simple as possible, yet provide links for more in depth study.  I am also trying to steer away from the politics or linking to multiple opinions about projected outcomes.) 

Part I update:

Here is my answer to a reader's question (Please explain #15 further, since this applies to myself and many Music Therapists like me) about item #15 ($716 billion in cuts to Medicare):

Here is a very good explanation from the Washington Post, although I don't think it will necessarily answer your question about how specific therapies might be impacted:

The big chunks are basically taken out of Medicare by lowering the annual increase of payments to hospitals and facilities and eliminating overpayments to the Medicare Advantage program (a private insurance program some seniors can choose to join instead of being served by the Medicare program itself.) 

A little more detail is here:

You will notice that Mr. Frakt is also worried about the large cut to annual increases in Medicare to hospitals and other facilities. I would suspect that this might be the most important one for us to consider since music therapy services are sometimes lumped into the billing of services "per day" for a patient in order to receive a slightly higher reimbursement "per day" for a patient. So, even though music therapy is not often directly billed to Medicare, it can increase the reimbursement amount by a little bit per day if it is included correctly in the billing. Since most facilities don't rely on this reimbursement to fund music therapy, it is unlikely that music therapy would be cut as a result of the decrease in money from the ACA. However, it has been nice to be able to show that music therapy does sometimes contribute to a higher pay out in reimbursement.

And just in case it is not confusing enough, some people say that the cuts are not really "cuts" and that they will save Medicare rather than hurt it:

Let's keep investigating! The scary thing is that nobody seems to know what is really in the law or what is going to happen! Maybe next time they can get this all figured out before passing it into law.

Understanding the "doc fix."  (Don't you just love all the little nicknames for things!  e.g., Obamacare, fiscal cliff, ...doc fix, etc.!  What will they come up with next??!)
The "doc fix" is really a yearly "fix" of the problem created by Medicaid only paying about 34% less than Medicare to doctors and hospitals.  As you can imagine, this would lead to many physicians not wanting to treat patients on Medicaid.  So every year, congress passes a temporary law to increase Medicaid payments to match the levels in Medicare.  (Note: Medicare payments to doctors and hospitals are still generally lower than private insurance payments).  The ACA has put in place a temporary "doc fix" for 2013 and 2014.  After that, individual states would be responsible for the additional cost to keep Medicaid from scaling back its payments.  (For details about the "doc fix" issue you can go here.)  

Incidentally, since I mentioned the so-called "fiscal cliff", we will have to keep an eye on the negotiations between the President and the House of Representatives.  It has been reported that the ACA has been put on the table as a bargaining chip in the process.   

In timely fashion (only 32 months after passing Obamacare!) the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released the guidelines for states to set up the new health care exchanges.   

Basically, these guidelines lay out what insurers will be allowed to charge for people who smoke or who are older.  The guidelines also explain minimum coverage rules and explanations about the new push for preventative healthcare and wellness programs. Specific lists are in links below:

Okay, this should be enough of a groundwork for us to tackle next time what the impact of ACA might be on music therapy.  I'll be back later this week with that analysis! As always, please let me know if I have missed something important, and keep the personal stories and questions coming here and on Facebook.  Thanks for reading and I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! 




Saturday, November 17, 2012

Obamacare: The Effect of the Affordable Care Act on Music Therapy, Part I

This is a huge and scary beast to tackle!  Now that the election is over, however, the ACA (Affordable Care Act) looks like it will begin its inexorable creep into the healthcare system.  I present it like this only because the law is scheduled to be implemented in stages.  The first of these new policies began in 2010. The rest of the new regulations will begin over the next few years.  

I will not necessarily be presenting my point of view, although my bias leans against the government being able to do much of anything with efficiency and receive an A grade (I can think of the U. S. Post Office and Amtrak as good examples of government inefficiency which are in constant need of bailout money!).  My goal is to try and give you a sense of the key points of the law and then break it down into some possible influences on how the changes will affect patients with disabilities as well as their access to services like music therapy.  

I also see the bigger picture as something important to examine.  It seems like most people discuss or highlight the benefits or negatives of the new law, but fail to note that actual implementation will not look like the ideal presented on paper.  This is something we can no longer ignore, or put on the mental backburner for another day.  Unfortunately, the ACA is incredibly complicated and many members of congress who voted it into place haven't even read the full document or claim to not understand it!  

At the 2010 Legislative Conference for the National Association for Counties, then House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi said, "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it...".   

I have nominated myself to bring you as much detail as a primer for your own investigation!  I will attempt to cite a variety of sources from both sides of the ideological aisle.  I hope that you will join me in the discussion and provide a sounding board as we try to figure this out together.

The music therapy profession is really in its infancy in terms of reimbursement and payment from third-party sources.  Some local and regional success stories exist regarding payment for music therapy services through private insurance companies.  There has also been some progress in getting music therapy included in group billing to Medicare for music therapy occurring as part of daily services in certain types of rehabilitation and care for older adults.  
How will this recent success in third-party billing be affected by the ACA?  Good question!  I am not sure anyone knows exactly, but shouldn't we get at the front end of this?  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Across my virtual desk...

Hi everyone!  

So many things going on right now, it is difficult to quantify!  I don't want you to miss several things that are very current.  I will also write more later about the music therapy conference going on in Chicago at the end of this week, so check back soon!

  • If you happen to be one of the lucky ones making it to national conference this year, let's all wish ourselves luck with the transportation to and from the airport to the conference hotel!! :) 
  • Once I make it to the conference, you will be able to find me at the exhibit hall with the Shenandoah University booth, or at the research poster session, or at my concurrent session presentation on Friday from 7:30 - 9:00 am.  Early!
  • Last year, Ben Folds made a big splash at the conference through twitter and by showing up in person!  This year he is out with a new album.  Some of the profits will go to support music education and music therapy!!  

  • You may remember that this year we are doing a sound scape during opening session!  Did you also remember to go and download the sound clips?  Go here and be ready for Christine Stevens, music therapist extraordinaire, and the live experience!
  • Just in time for our national conference, TED talks released a wonderful talk by Robert Gupta regarding music and medicine. I have mentioned Mr. Gupta before, a wonderful violinist and advocate for music therapy!  

  • I also wanted to highlight some great music therapy being done by a friend of mine, Laura Cornelius.  Here is the write-up at the Florida Sun Sentinel.  Hurray Laura!  
Things are really moving fast out there in the world of music therapy!  Get your twitter feeds ready to go!  I haven't even mentioned the big meetings going on this year about moving music therapy to a master's level entry!  I will write more about that later...

I will catch up with you in Chicago!  Music just makes sense!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rock-a-bye Horsey...

There was an interesting new study presented at the Australasian Equine Symposium about horses being weaned while listening to sedative music.  Yes, I said horses!  I was impressed by the researchers out of The University of Queensland who tried to define and use sedative music in the study.  While I am not sure that I agree that it was truly sedative or calming in nature, they found some positive results from a cross-over, quasi-experimental design. 

Twelve weanlings were stabled for 10 days with and without exposure to calming music (Alan Silvestri's main theme music to the movie Forest Gump).  The horses had significantly lower heart rate variability during the music condition and were observed to be more relaxed, spent more time eating and less time walking in the stable.  Also of note, the weanlings had a lower peak heart rate and a decreased duration of peak heart rate while in the music condition when they were exposed to the stress of being near two stallions.  

Many questions can be raised about this study, but I found it fascinating nonetheless.  I am not sure exactly which portions of the movie theme music they used, but when I listened to the opening theme to Forest Gump, it was not as predictable and constant in tempo, dynamics, instrumentation, theme and rhythm as would be best for true sedative music.  I also think the horses must not be very selective about their music preference if they can listen to the same 8-10 minutes music selection over and over for 6 hours every day for five days! Perhaps they were less stressed because they were bored silly!  

I don't know how loud they played the music, but it is possible that the music served as a masking agent for environmental sounds.  Was the music the key to the weanling's positive responses?  There is evidence that heart rate variability responds to music intervention as reported by the emWave biofeedback monitor and the creators of the Heart Math program. Can we make any transfers from this research to an effect of music on humans?  Does this study point to a more physiological, nuero-muscular and autonomic response to music rather than a cognitive response?  

I still have more questions than answers, but please take a look for yourself at the details and let me know what you think!

Wilson, M. E., Phillips, C. J., Lisle, A. T., Anderson, S. T., Bryden, W. L., & Cawdell-Smith, A. J. (2012).  Stress responses in young, stabled horses can be modified by music.  Proceedings of Australian Equine Science Symposium, 4, 45.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Playing Catch Up!

Things are off to a sprinter's start here in Virginia!

The national conference for the American Music Therapy Association is happening much earlier this year in the middle of October!  That moves up all the timelines for final preparations for presentations and travel arrangements.  This year, the conference is in St. Charles, IL, at the Pheasant Run Resort.  I will be presenting a concurrent session on Friday, October, 12 from 7:30 - 9:00am:  Arts Ensemble: A Palette for Success in Combined Music and Art Therapy. I hope you will join me if you are coming to Chicago!

Here are a couple of other things that have come across my virtual table the last few months:

  • Terra Rising Records contacted me in hopes of broadening their network and getting the word out about their efforts to promote music in education and therapy.  They seem like a commendable group and support many different projects for creating music and raising money to fund music and healing.  You can follow them on Facebook
  • Jennifer Buchanan also reached out to me to announce her new book about music and wellness.  Her group of music therapists, The JB Music Therapy Team, includes a highly qualified list of credentialed music therapists.  You can find out more about her new book here.   
Stay tuned for more links and news as I try to get back into the groove!  Thanks for sticking with me over the summer!      

Monday, August 20, 2012

On The Banks of the Shenandoah...

I'm Back!

Sorry for the long hiatus, but I finally managed to get my family moved to Virginia for the start of a grand new adventure!  This involved packing up a 27 foot trailer and sending it off into the unknown with only a tracking number in hand.  After a couple of months in Texas visiting family, we headed out for Virginia.  So the big news is...

I have officially started as a new music therapy professor at Shenandoah University!  I am very honored to be here with such a vibrant and well-respected music therapy program and I look forward to many great things to come!...(Now if I can only figure out how to use my new Macbook, things will be splendid!...)

The first order of business is that things will be changing here at Music Makes Sense.  The "Daily Muse" feature will be put on the back burner while I settle in here for my new gig.  That will leave room for 1-2 quality posts a week and time to correspond with all of you via comments, twitter and the Facebook page.  I hope you will continue to spend some time here each week and join in the conversation.

There should be much to talk about as I explore music therapy in this new part of the country!  And stay tuned for more information about the upcoming AMTA national conference!  I will be presenting a concurrent session as well as participating in the research poster session.  So don't miss out!  If you haven't already, subscribe to MMS by email or Like it on Facebook.  I hope everyone had  great summer and that you feel refreshed for the fall!

Let's go!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

State License for Music Therapy in Georgia

The governor of Georgia finally signed into law the SB 414 providing a state license for music therapists!  

Here are the details form Kimberly Sena Moore (with the Certification Board for Music Therapists):

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) and the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) are excited to announce that, on Tuesday, May 1, 2012, Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia signed into law SB 414. This legislation creates a music therapy license in Georgia through the Secretary of State. Many thanks to the members of the Georgia Task Force (Rachel Coon-Arnott, Jamie George, Kirby Smith, Chelsey Mercado, Pat Coates, and Ellen Ritchey) and to all the music therapists in Georgia for their work, dedication, and advocacy for this legislation.

Great job!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Story Time: Can Be So Much More!

One of the most important things I have learned lately is that be you a teacher or therapist, it is imperative that you "teach for transfer."  

This means that we have to explain why we are doing something, (e.g., a song, instrument activity, etc.) and how it will help outside of the therapeutic setting or class.    

A new study just came out that showed how parents and teachers can significantly improve preschoolers' future reading abilities simply by pointing out features in print as they read the stories!  This might simply be showing the differences between capital and lowercase letters on the page or demonstrating how to read from left to right and top to bottom on a page.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

GA Music Therapy Licensure Bill Still Awaits Signature

The Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, still has not signed the bill into law regarding state licensure for music therapy.  Here are the details as provided by Nelson Mullins:

SB 414 was authored by Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and deals with licensing individuals who are engaging in the practice of music therapy.  There are currently about 125 individuals in Georgia who are "music therapists."  The legislation creates this new licensure under the Secretary of State in Chapter 25A of Title 43.  

The Bill, as it passed the House, is the negotiated agreement worked out by the various groups who had raised concerns (including speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists and others) about the Bill because it lacked a true scope of practice for these folks.  It is still viewed as an unfunded mandate to the Secretary of State which has the responsibility of licensing this new group.  It passed the House by a vote of 116 to 49.  The Senate, upon a motion made by Sen. Unterman, agreed to the House version of SB 414 by a vote of 45 to five and that action now moves the legislation to the Governor's desk.

Governor Deal has 40 days in which to take action on Bills passed this Session; that time expires on May 8, 2012.  The Governor's office keeps an updated webpage for signed bills here.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ashley Lundquist Doing 30 apps in 30 days for April!

You really need to check out Ashley Lundquist's series on iPad/iPhone apps!  She is doing a review of one app a day all through the month of April!

You can find her at Music Therapy = Love.  I really like the "Box" app that she pointed out offers much more storage than dropbox!  Thanks Ashley! 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Music Lifting Spirits Among Patients with Cancer

This story is not about a music therapist, but definitely about someone who is using music in a therapeutic and uplifting way.

Charlie Lustman is a cancer survivor who is giving back to others some of the care and spirit that helped him get through his own illness.  I love his colorful guitar and commitment to visiting so many cancer centers around the country to help inspire patients!  He has written an entire album of songs about his fight with cancer and you would never know that he lost half of his jaw due to Osteo Sarcoma.  

You can read the story or watch the video news story here.     

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Text alert! Danger of Impaired Learning

I currently teach a couple of college courses for music therapy students.  I try to keep the students very engaged and active in class by alternating lecture, discussion, role-play and simulations.  

But I have wondered about the proliferation of cell phones and the effect of streaming information in the form of Facebook, Twitter and text messaging on class participation.  Even with an engaging curriculum and motivating topics, there are still cell phones in pockets and purses or sitting on desktops, buzzing away, even on silent.  

I think my fears are starting to be verified by some new research.  It seems that lack of attention in class as a result of in-class texting does seem to have an effect on student performance.

What do you think?  Can you remain totally focused in class or in a meeting while engaged in a text conversation?

What about texting while you are on the phone with someone else?  Texting while performing in a concert??  Are we beginning to see signs of a sort of societal ADD? 


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

More Cool SER-AMTA Stuff!

Natalie Mullis is a music therapist in private practice and author of the blog: Key Changes Music Therapy.  She is definitely a rising star in the music therapy field and has jumped into the profession with lots of excitement!  

I was not able to attend her conference presentation at the Southeastern Regional American Music Therapy Conference 2012 this past weekend, but several of my students and colleagues were able to listen to her speak.  I heard many good comments about the information she shared, so if you would like a copy of her presentation handout, Natalie has posted one on her blog.  Check it out here, and don't miss the opportunity to get her e-book about being successful as a young professional!  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Music Therapy is Not Just a "Frill Service"

According to the Health Sciences Association of British Columbia, a large public union in Canada, there are over 40 music therapists listed as being members of their organization.  Unfortunately, healthcare downsizing is often resulting in the loss of music therapy jobs held by these union members.  

Although there are some expansions of music therapy into the hospitals and healthcare taking place in the U. S., there is still the idea out there that music therapy can be cut since it is not an "essential service."

In response to this lack of understanding regarding music therapy, the Music Therapy Association of British Columbia has released a video called, "The Gift of Music: Stories of Music Therapy."  The creators talk about the documentary: 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Artur Rubenstein On the Power of Music

"I am tired before the concert, not afterward."

~ Artur Rubinstein

Music therapy makes sense!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Tie Dye Duet: Successful Approaches for Combining Music and Art in Therapy

Here is the handout from my presentation at the 2012 South Eastern Regional conference for the American Music Therapy Association in Charlotte, NC.  I had many visuals and music samples that I shared at the presentation, but this outline still has some valuable information if you were not able to make it to the conference.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to talk about the possibilities.  The conference attendees participated in a Scribble Chase drawing activity during the session and I encouraged them to send me pictures of their final pictures once they have filled in the images that they find.  Hopefully I will have images to share! (*the picture above is my own scribble art creation with a student in art therapy as a partner.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GA State Bill for Music Therapy Licensure Passes Both House and Senate!

Congratulations Georgia MTs!

The Georgia state bill to establish a music therapy license passed the Georgia State House of Representatives yesterday.  It has now passed both the House and the Senate and I assume awaits signing by the Governor.  Hopefully, he does not have a problem with this idea!  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Mood-Music Conundrum

Judith Pinkerton is a music therapist who also hosts the Music 4 Life Radio Show on iTunes. She recently authored a blog post at Corporate Wellness Magazine highlighting music to help with anxiety and mood.  

I really liked her discussion about how people tend to reinforce their current mood, even if it is an unhealthy mood.  This makes sense, since we often tend to listen to music that matches our mood.  Pinkerton is advocating for more of a mood music "diet", where you intentionally listen to music that reflects different moods in order to expand your mood "palate."  This may help to break the cycle of reinforcing the way you feel with music and then listening to more of the same type of music because that is the way you feel!  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Two Friday Faves: Presidents and Apps

Friday Faves are usually part of the Twitterverse, but I want to highlight two awesome blog posts I saw this week:

1. JoAnn Jordan at Music Sparks came up with a great list of songs associated with past American presidents.  I want to link to in part to return the favor, but also because her song ideas area  great resource.  The songs on her list can be used  all year long up until the election!  There are many populations that can work on current events and reminiscing as appropriate goals.  Thanks JoAnn!

2.  Kimberly Sena Moore at Music Therapy Maven had a guest blogger on this week to talk about iPad apps.  I thought the list of apps was great!  There are so many apps out there right now, that it really helps to have a list of apps that have been tested a little bit out in the real world of music therapy!    

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Music Therapy at Children's Medical Center of Dallas

I love highlighting music therapy from my home state!  This news story out of Dallas played yesterday on FOX.  It has been really nice to see music therapy grow at Children's Medical Center of Dallas!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Huffington Post Highlights Medical Music Therapy

Today I want to recommend that you visit Ronna Kaplan's latest article over at the Huffington Post.  Ms. Kaplan has been a music therapist for over thirty years and writes an excellent series of articles for the Huffington Post!  

Her latest article is all about music therapy in the hospital setting.  This is a rapidly expanding area for music therapy and Ms. Kaplan's examples are well written and easy to understand.  I really encourage you to send this article to friends and family!  You can find the entire article here.    

Monday, March 19, 2012

With a Little Help From The Beatles!

If you ever need a little dose of the Beatles, here is a nice little webpage that can get you through the moment!  It is a fun little, old-school, online tape player packed with Beatles tunes!

Beatles songs are great for music therapy.  I use them all the time for teenagers and young adults who have developmental disabilities.  The songs are easy to play and have catchy tunes that are often somewhat familiar just because they have been used in so many different types of media.  

I also just used the song, "With a Little Help From My Friends" (...with a slight word edit in the chorus since I was working with psychiatric patients who might have dual-diagnosis...!), to talk about being helpful and friendly with other patients and their treatment team.  

Go to the Beatles player here

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Music and Memory: In the Words of Sir Thomas Beecham

"Great music is that which penetrates the ear with facility and leaves the memory with difficulty.  Magical music never leaves the memory."

~ Sir Thomas Beecham

Sir Beecham eloquently posits one of the powers of music that enables music therapy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

After all, a Music Therapist Can Be Replaced by Turning on the Radio...

Wow!  I must admit my heart was pounding a little bit after reading this.  Hold on to your blood pressure!

This is the first comment on a story posted at the Augusta Chronicle regarding the recent debate in the Georgia Senate about the music licensure bill.  Unfortunately, this is the first thing people see after reading the news story.  I have not posted a response and really don't intend to.  (Honestly, I think it will take a life experience with music therapy, and not just words, to bring a change of hear to this person.)  I just wanted you to know that we have a lot of work left to do in educating people about music therapy. 

"Little Lamb" posted this on March 7th, 2012

"Sen. Renee Unterman’s gut instincts were trying to lead her in the correct direction when she initially asked herself, “When the music therapists brought this to me, I thought why do we have to license music therapists?”
She should have listened to that little voice in her head saying, “All they have to do is turn on the radio.”
The reason that music therapists do not need to be licensed is that the only risk they are bringing to society is taking their money for nothing. They are not peddling medicine or medical devices or medical procedures.
You can take it to the bank that licensure is a mechanism to limit the number of people entering a profession by those already in the profession holding said licenses. It limits availablility of the service and drives up the price.
I say no to state licensure of music therapists.
Oh, and while we're at it, let's go ahead and repeal licensure of speech therapists as well." 

Friday, March 16, 2012

That Bird Has the Beat!

Researches have discovered that some birds really do have the ability to match their movement to a rhythmic beat!  Maybe this can help explain some of the dancing bird videos that have been so popular!

One of the interesting things found in the research was that birds with vocal learning abilities are the ones that may have the rhythmic synchronization necessary to pick up a beat.  

For the full story, flap on over to   

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kyle Coleman Debut Album To Be Released on World Autism Day

World Autism Day will occur this coming April 2.  Kyle Coleman, a 25 year old who has autism, will release his first vocal album to coincide with the events on that day.  

Kyle's story is pretty amazing.  He has a really nice voice for singing, but did not tap into this hidden talent until 2009 when he began some music therapy!  Since then, his singing has allowed him to express feelings and thoughts that he had never been able to share.  He went from only ever having said a few words in his lifetime to producing an entire album!  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Possible Changes to Georgia Legislation to Gain Music Therapy Licensure

The Georgia state senate bill to establish a music therapy license passed by a vote of 33-17 in the beginning of March.  The sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Renee Unterman, recently provided some insight into the surprisingly divided vote.  

She explained that other therapies were engaged in a little bit of a turf war over insurance billing codes, but made assurances that music therapists were not trying to take the place of speech therapists or any other therapies.  She went on to say that she will amend the wording in the bill as it makes its way through the house of representatives to limit the scope of practice of music therapy and any overlapping of other therapies.  

So we need to keep our attention to future developments.  This could be a battle that gets fought more than once as other states seek out licensure.  The interview with Sen. Unterman is here.    

Monday, March 12, 2012

Kat Fulton Gives a Primer on Drum Circle Facilitation!

Today I have to promote Kat Fulton's latest entry about being a drum circle facilitator!  Her blog post has a short video packed with good ideas to get you started learning how to facilitate your own drum circle in therapy!  

Check it out here and be sure to sign up for Kat's newsletter and updates.  She often has great ideas for Boomwhackers and drumming with older adults!  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Music Makes Sense: 500 Posts and Still Rockin'!

500th Post!!!

I have been posting since 2007, so this may not seem like a big deal, but I consider it a huge milestone.  Most experts are of the opinion that blogs really begin to shine after 500 posts.  

To help us all celebrate, I have linked to the most popular blog posts of all time on Music Makes Sense.  I hope you enjoy a little stroll down memory lane, and thanks for reading!  

I don't know about you, but I find it very interesting that my post about using music with a parachute is the second most read post!  I love using a parachute, but had no idea that it was such a sought after activity topic!  

If you have enjoyed the ride with Music Makes Sense over the last few years, please consider sharing your favorite posts on Facebook and Twitter.  I think we need to reach a wider audience.  I don't mind at all if you share things that you find interesting here at MMS.  

Spamming friends and family is horrible, but selectively sharing quality and accurate information about music and music therapy is essential if we are to be successful in spreading the influence of music therapy!  The easiest way to start right now is by clicking on the share buttons at the end of this post.  And don't forget to "Like" MMS on Facebook!  

Thank you and I look forward to connecting with you as we go for post 1000! 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rock Band Therapy!

Rock bands are great therapy!  Either listening to rock music or, in this case, playing in a rock band offers great therapeutic value!

We have a patient rock band at the psychiatric hospital where I sometimes do music therapy groups.  The rock band therapy group is one of the most popular and sought after groups in the psycho-social rehabilitation program!

The following news story out of Australia truly demonstrates the value of rock band type music therapy groups.    

Music - Tonic for the brain from ABC Open Ballarat on Vimeo.
The band 'Not Quiet Right' were formed during a music therapy program run by St Laurence Community Services in Ballarat.

Each member of the band suffers from either an acquired brain injury or a neurological disease.

Check out there music video clip here:

Drummer John Benson contributed his Moment Behind the Photo story for ABC Open. Watch it here:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Today's Recap From The Music Therapy Show!

It was my great pleasure to be on with Janice Lindstrom today with The Music Therapy Show on blogtalk radio.  I had a great time visiting with Janice and I think we talked about some interesting topics.  

If you have not listened to her show before, you are missing out on some fantastic interviews with music therapists and other professionals that have an impact on what we do.  I usually listen to the show through pod casts in iTunes, but it is live every week on Fridays.  I hope you will sign up for the pod casts or tune in next week!  If you missed today's show, here it is:


Listen to internet radio with Janice Lindstrom on Blog Talk Radio

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Music Makes Sense Live from Blogtalk Radio March 9th!

Be there or be Square!  I am on live with Janice Lindstrom and The Music Therapy Show!

When: Friday, Noon Eastern time.
What to do: Call in to (646) 652-2850 to ask questions and join in the conversation!

You can help guide the show conversation by submitting your questions now through the comments section right here on Music Makes Sense!  I will make sure to cover topics or answer any questions you submit between now and tomorrow morning.  

See you on the air!  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Second Call for Reimbursement Stories!

After the national conference for music therapy in November 2011, I sent out a call for stories about reimbursement.  In response, I received several inquiries from therapists about how to obtain information about reimbursement, but not many stories about how music therapists have been successful in obtaining reimbursement.  

I will be attending the Southeastern Regional Music Therapy Conference at the end of the month and will meet again with the reimbursement committee.  I am re-posting my call to action in hopes that you have been thinking over that last few months about stories to share.  You can send in your stores by posting a comment to this blog or contacting me through MMS on Facebook.  The full call to action follows after the break:

Monday, March 5, 2012

GA State Senate Passes Music Therapy Licensure!

Therapy News on Twitter posted an update on the Georgia state music therapy licensure bill.  It passed the Senate hearing by a vote of 33 to 17!  

That is great news, but it still needs to pass the state House of Representatives.  The full story is here.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Detailed Analysis of GA State Licensure Bill for Music Therapy

GA Senate Bill 414

This bill will effectively establish a license to practice music therapy in the state of Georgia.  In response to efforts by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association to oppose this bill, I invite you to read the bill for yourself here.  

Although I am no fan of state by state licensure for music therapy, I have come to appreciate the inevitable need for such action or similar state recognition in order to protect our professional standards and improve prospects for third party reimbursement.  

The SB 414 is fairly straight forward as I read it.  It seems to me that ASHA is injecting some "red herrings" into the situation in order to derail the bill:

1.  ASHA  correctly points out the bill does not contain a description of the music therapy scope of practice.  But this really is a non-issue because the bill requires that only Board Certified music therapists can obtain licensure.  Scope of practice guidelines are easily available in the CBMT guidelines and therefore part of the license.  If a music therapist was to fail to follow the CBMT scope of practice, then he or she would lose certification and also licensure. 

2. ASHA implies that it is a problem that music therapists include assessing communication in their scope of practice.  --  Yes, as a music therapist, I assess communication skills.  So do teachers, parents, doctors, diagnosticians, and the list goes on.  In the same way that music therapists do not have a monopoly on the therapeutic use of music, speech therapists are not the sole practitioners of helping people with communication skills.  As with music therapists and music, however, I recognize that speech therapists certainly have expertise and training in using evidence-based practice in assessing and treating speech and hearing deficiencies.

3. ASHA accuses music therapists of using "speech therapy codes" to bill for services.  I do not have any personal knowledge or evidence to support or refute this claim.  Perhaps some of you reading this can clarify this or provide examples?  Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think there are technically "speech therapy" codes.  Perhaps there are codes that speech therapy typically uses, but I don't think these codes have ever been restricted for use by only one kind of health care provider.  

This whole situation seems to be a lot of misplaced opposition.  I hope that the national leaders now involved in this from AMTA and CBMT are able to meet with the people from ASHA and help resolve these issues.  I am on very good professional terms with all of the speech therapists I have ever worked with and I would like to keep it that way.   

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Update: GA License for Music Therapy

Here is an update about the legislative situation in GA regarding efforts to obtain state licensure for music therapy (click here for the original story).  AMTA and CBMT are quickly trying to assess the situation and provide some support to the Georgia music therapists.  

I provide this information only as an update and not necessarily as a call to action because the letters need to be delivered tomorrow.  Janice Lindstrom of The Music Therapy Show shared the following letter she received from the CBMT state recognition task force:   

You may have heard through the "grapevine" or read information about the
push back we are receiving in Georgia from the state speech therapy
organization. AMTA and CBMT are working to address this issue from a
national level and the GA task force is reaching out to the state speech
association and is in contact with their legislators. One such legislator
recommended we try to verify that this push back is specific to Georgia by
gathering letters of support from speech-language pathologists and speech
therapists outside the state.

Call to Action 
Please reach out to any speech and language colleagues and associates you
know who support music therapy and ask them to write a one-page letter of
support. Talking points can be geared towards how music and speech
therapists can work collaboratively and how they support the music
therapists' efforts to seek state recognition through licensure and
registration. Georgia has another committee meeting next Monday, so we will
need these letters BEFORE Monday, March 5th.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Positive Results Reported From Gluten-Free Diet

So many of our young clients with autism are on special diets that we hope are helping improve social behaviors and communication skills.  The research literature has been back and forth in supporting the effectiveness of diets like gluten and casein-free programs.  

The most recent research looked at a large sample of surveys given to parents of children on gluten and casein-free diets.  The results of this study showed that there was improvement in social behaviors and communication for those children who had also had gastrointestinal problems before the diet.  

All music therapists working with children need to keep up with the research in this area.  Parents often ask us our opinion and we should be prepared to offer a response based on the research rather than anecdotal evidence.  We should also be observant of our own clients who start or stop special diets so that we can be part of the team that tries to determine the risks or benefits of the treatment.  

You can find the full story about the new research in Science Daily.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Music for a Taxing Day

I just spent two days and several bags of M&Ms doing my tax returns!  

Hurray!--I'm finished!  But what a waste of time that could have otherwise been spent on making music or creating great blog posts!  

Here is my new theme song for the day: 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Speech Therapists Unite Against Music Therapy??

Suddenly the American Speech-Language Hearing Association has come out against the state licensure bill for music therapy in the state of Georgia.  

You can read their call to action here.

I am not sure why this friction between AMTA and ASHA is bubbling up, but I think we should be active in trying to quell the notion that music therapy and speech therapy are somehow in competition with each other.  I have worked with speech therapists for many years and have the utmost respect for them!  I also feel like many of them have been pleased with my use of music to co-treat on targeted goals and objectives. 

Please talk to your colleagues in speech therapy and help them understand that we certainly do have a scope of practice and it does not infringe upon the scope of practice endorsed by ASHA.  Our friends in speech therapy will have to be informed so that they can battle the misconceptions from within their own organization.  

Is ASHA only concerned about their monetary turf and status?  What about the needs of the clients?  If the client will clearly benefit from music therapy, then why should music therapy not bill using appropriate insurance and medical codes?

Speech therapy is a large and well-respected profession.  There is no need for them to feel threatened by music therapy.  Perhaps the legislation before the Georgia lawmakers can be amicably revised instead of being rushed into open conflict?  


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Get Ready to Shuffle!

Today I want to highlight a post from Music Moves!  Natasha Thomas, the author of this blog, is a music therapist in North Dakota.  She works with some clients with visual and auditory impairments and recently shared a great post about incorporating dancing into music therapy.

Natasha provides some great ideas about what works and doesn't work when trying to do dancing with people who are deaf and/or blind.  I think her insight is extremely valuable and much of her advice can be transferred to other settings and therapeutic populations.  You can read her post here:

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blogtalk Radio Here I Come!

***********News Alert****************

Don't forget that I will be on the Music Therapy Show with Janice Lindstrom on March 9th!  I am very excited about being on her show.  We actually talked about me being on the show years ago and just never got our schedules lined up. 

Janice is awesome and her blogtalk radio show has an impressive history of interviews with some amazing people! I will be honored to be part of her show.  

When: Noon Eastern time.
What to do: Call in to (646) 652-2850 to ask questions and join in the conversation!

You can help guide the show conversation by submitting your questions now through the comments section right here on Music Makes Sense!  I will make sure to cover topics or answer any questions you submit between now and next Friday.  

I am sure we will talk about the blog as well as some of the fun research I am into right now.  Maybe there is a topic I haven't covered yet on the blog that you would like me to comment about? 

I hope some people will also call in at the time of the show!  That will be terrific to have a live conversation!  Thanks to all of you and talk to you soon!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wadsworth: Let Music Cleanse the Day

"And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from The Day is Done

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