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

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gibson Guitar Company: Still Holding On

I have been following this disturbing story regarding Gibson Guitar since the government raided their factory last year and confiscated millions of dollars in equipment.  This probable government overreach has been ignored by many, but I feel like it is an important story that musicians and every individual should be aware of for several reasons:

1.  Is it possible that the current executive branch of the federal government is using regulation for political purposes?  The current leadership of Gibson Guitar is thought to be pro-Republican.  I also find it fascinating that the generally left-leaning music industry has been eerily silent in its support for Gibson guitar.  

2. Environmentalism gone awry.  Gibson guitar has been attacked by the Obama administration executive department for allegedly not following the environmental laws regarding specialty woods.  But, they are not talking about U. S. law!  They have confiscated Gibson property for not following Indian law that the Indian government didn't even consider was against their own law!  In addition, the law in question was not something that protected an environment impact, but simply a law about the quality of manufacturing (More details here.)  So, basically, you have the federal government using the Justice Department to use a heavy hand against a company that is not even doing anything against the law that has a negative impact on the environment.

3. Timing.  It seems like a strange time for our American president to be putting a U. S. company in financial jeopardy at a time of economic recession.  Gibson guitar company is a long-standing American company that provides many jobs in the U. S and played an important part in our musical heritage.  This certainly does not seem to be smart economic policy, but it does add credence to the idea that the government actions have more to do with politics than the environment or the economy.  

I have included links to help you learn the history of the issue here.  I think that it is important for musicians and non-musicians alike to be aware of the situation.  What do you think about this situation?  Does it seem fair or should other music companies be held to the same standards?  Had you heard about this story?    

The following investigative story sums up the current situation.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

March Declared Music Therapy Month in Oklahoma!

March is "Music Therapy Month" in Oklahoma!  

But, apparently not everyone is happy about that.  It seems that one representative was not happy about taking time to pass such a, "ridiculous and time-consuming resolution."  I imagine that one day this representative will come into contact with live music therapy for a friend or loved one.  Maybe this will help him reconsider his feelings.  

You can read the full story of the legislative squabble here.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Therapy Live from Chicago!

Here is a great video about music therapy out of Chicago!  All of these stories in the news are very valuable in spreading the word about music therapy.  

It was nice to see this news story about music therapy with kids who have disabilities since there have been so many stories recently about medical music therapy.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Birthday Song Secrets Revealed!

Free Clipart Images

I received just a few renditions of the Birthday song today!  It made me think about how useful the song is in music therapy.  Not only is it a very well-known song, even used in France and other countries, but it is full of very clear and motivating cadences.  

A cadence is a musical term describing the resolution of a series of chords.  Basically, it is the way a musical phrase comes to a close or resting point.  This can be very useful in a music therapy assessment to evaluate music skill and music interest that could be important in music therapy activities.

As we all know, the Birthday song goes like this:

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to _________, 
Happy birthday to __________.  

By leaving blanks in the song at the end of phrases, it is possible to find out if a client is motivated to fill in the blanks.  Ending the last phrase on the word "to" leaves the musical feeling in suspense, with an urge to resolve to the tonic chord.  Then, if the client is inclined to sing a response, is it the correct pitch?  

If a client responds to blanks in this song, it is likely that other songs and activities may be similarly successful.  Target information can be placed in key parts of a song to help a client learn.  The motivation to complete a musical phrase can also be used to improve expressive communication skills.

Now, just for fun...go sing the song to someone and stop before you sing the last "you."  How long does it take for them to fill in the blank?  Did you find anyone that it didn't bother?      

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Great Resource for Adapted Guitar Lessons!

Dr. Robert Krout is one of the great professors of music therapy in Texas!  He teaches at Southern Methodist University and has published several books and recordings.  

One of his newest books is a method book aimed at guitar students who have special needs.  The book also looks like it will be very useful for the music therapist or guitar teacher who is facilitating the student.  Not only does Dr. Krout provide great examples on the accompanying CD, but the practice songs have specifically been chosen and written to have a dual role in the lessons. 

One song, for example, has lyrics that provide cues and language to talk to a person about how he or she is doing.  So, not only is the student learning a new chord or guitar technique, but also practicing and learning social skills!  

You really need to check out this great new resource!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Why Music May Move Us to Tears

Many of you may have already seen this, but it deserves a place in the Music Makes Sense archives!  

The Wall Street Journal piece breaks down emotional music into the parts that really affect us.  Very interesting and well worth thinking about.  They also point to research that seems to back up the theories.  Adele may have been an unwitting purveyor of some sad songs that turned into hits because they fit the formula, or maybe good song writers and singers just naturally create what science is only now figuring out!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apps-omania! Where do we go from here?

First of all, my bias is that apps for iPad and other platforms are probably going to prove a great benefit for people with special needs.  Unfortunately, the technology is so new and expanding so rapidly, there is virtually no research to draw upon for evidence-based practice.

Some initial research has already cautioned us that many people with Autism Spectrum Disorder are drawn to iPad and iPad-like technology, but that they spend the majority of time using non-social apps.  

CIO magazine  has a story that points out the lack of research and expertise behind many of the apps aimed at people with ASD.  I think that we will really need to pursue research in the area of music apps for use in music therapy.  Many music therapists have found them very useful, but perhaps we can develop some guidelines for their use?  

Maybe the music therapy research journals need to also include a tech review section in their publications every issue?  What do you think?  Where is a good place to start in tackling the expanding apps market as it relates to music therapy?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Speak up! Older Adults Avoid Hearing Aids.

John Hopkins just completed some new research into the prevalence of hearing aid use.  The findings were more somewhat disturbing for music therapists.  

The researchers found that only 4.3% of individuals between the ages of 50 - 59 who have more than 25 dB of hearing loss are using a hearing aid.  The percentage only increases to 22% for individuals over 80 years old!  

The study estimates that 22.9 million older Americans with significant hearing loss are not using a hearing aid! 

As the baby boomer generation begins consuming more and more health services, we need to be aware of the impacts this will have as we try to provide music therapy.  It may affect their music preference, motivation to listen to music, and ability to respond to musical cues.  At the very least, we will have to be more cognizant of hearing problems in our assessment protocols.  

The abstract and story descriptions are here and here.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Side Notes: Impressions of the Grammy Awards 2012

The Grammy Awards 2012

~ Hurray for Lady Antebellum!  (Best Country Album)...I just really like their sound...

~ So good to see Adele back singing!  I want her vocal doctor's number!

~ Very classy of them to have Glen Campbell perform! 

~ Nice job Carrie Underwood for a break out performance in a new style!  Tony Bennett sounded pretty good and it is awesome that he is still on stage singing.  What a career!  Carrie did a fantastic job holding this duet together.  

~ Now, if only that performance with all the light tubes had been with Boomwhackers!...

What did  you think?  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Some Practice is all about Efficiency!

"Practice makes perfect and continued practice makes you more perfect?"

Some new research out of Colorado has indicated that even after learning and mastering an action, continued practice can make you more efficient at that action.  So there is apparently continued benefit from extra practice above and beyond just learning the action!

This is important because many music therapy clients are re-learning motor function or learning new motor functions during adapted music lessons.  So even after a client sufficiently masters walking, playing a scale, hitting a target on a drum, etc., there still may be a good reason to continuing that practice.  

Since extra practice has now been determined to be a valuable way to become more efficient, we also need to remember that music is a great way to promote repetition without losing motivation.  See how far you can ride in your next spin class without music as a foundation!   

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Music Makes Sense: The Essentials!

Here are some of the essential materials you may have missed over the last four years of Music Makes Sense.  

If you are a new reader/subscriber or don't always get to see every post, these are some of the blog entries you will definitely want to go back and save for future reference!

Music For Relaxation: A Flow-chart for decision-making.  
This is an important new tool to help therapists and others choose the right kind of music to help in relaxation.  I created this flowchart mostly from experience in the field, so please let me know if you see any areas that need to be updated!

Ten Tips for a Successful Drum Circle.
I have created and currently teach a new drumming curriculum for undergraduate music therapy students.  These are some basic ideas that I developed during my own clinical practice and from training with other legendary music therapy drummers.  Print these out and keep them handy for the next time you want to do a drumming activity in your group!

Top Ten Behavior Management Strategies for a Successful Music Therapy Group.
These are hard-learned lessons and tips from my time as a music therapist in the public schools.  Learn them, live them, love them!

Five Ways to Successful Drumming with Older Adults!
Drumming with older adults can be intimidating and a challenge.  But it can also be one of the most rewarding and successful therapy interventions!  Kat Fulton, another music therapist, is an expert on drumming with older adults.  I offer you five tips that can really make a difference.  If you want more, then head on over to Rhythm for Good and check out Kat's advice too!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Have You Written a Hit Song? Find Out Now!

You know that new days of the week song you recently made up that your early childhood clients love!?  Well, now you can find out if it truly has hit potential!  

Go to and sign up for their free app that scores songs to see how popular they might be.  This outfit claims a 60% success rate in guessing new hit songs.  Who knows, your song might be the next big thing!

One of the British researchers that developed the program discusses the app and other findings here.  

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Musical Twilight Zone

I have to admit up front that this post is mostly just for fun!  But it did make me think about music preferences of different groups or clients.  Luckily, I don't think music therapy has made it yet to North Korea or else I would seriously have to brush up on my accordion repertoire!  

But there are things to learn in this interesting tidbit from behind the North Korean "iron curtain."  What non-verbal behaviors do you pick up?  I don't think I saw a single smile during the performance, even at the end!  And why in the world would a communist nation want to promote a pop culture song from the West?  


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sarah Palin Shares Her Thoughts on Raising Trig

The Daily Muse  

 Welcome to the Daily Muse feature of Music Makes Sense!  This daily update brings you up to the minute news about music and music therapy as it relates to our professions, events and individual lives.  You can follow the daily entries by subscribing to Music Makes Sense on Twitter or by "Liking" the Facebook page for Music Makes Sense.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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If you can put aside your political bias for a few minutes, Sarah Palin shares some loving thoughts and stories about her son Trig.  Those of us who work with children who have special needs can warmly relate to her feelings and wish that more people get the chance to know someone like Trig.    

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Music Therapy Maven Wraps up the Music Therapy Advocacy Project for 2012!

The Daily Muse  

 Welcome to the Daily Muse feature of Music Makes Sense!  This daily update brings you up to the minute news about music and music therapy as it relates to our professions, events and individual lives.  You can follow the daily entries by subscribing to Music Makes Sense on Twitter or by "Liking" the Facebook page for Music Makes Sense.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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Don't miss Kimberly Sena Moore's wrap up of the Music Therapy Advocacy month!  You can find all the numbers and a list of participating blogs on her website, The Music Therapy Maven.

Great work Kimberly!  Thanks for including all of us!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Kids With ASD More Likely to Use Non-Social Media Tech

The Daily Muse  

 Welcome to the Daily Muse feature of Music Makes Sense!  This daily update brings you up to the minute news about music and music therapy as it relates to our professions, events and individual lives.  You can follow the daily entries by subscribing to Music Makes Sense on Twitter or by "Liking" the Facebook page for Music Makes Sense.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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The iPad is rapidly taking the world by storm!  Not only is it changing the way we operate and communicate, but many music therapists can  tell you how it is changing the way they practice music therapy.

There are many apps that provide access to songs and recordings so that music therapists can carry less stuff!  If you have ever seen a music therapist, then you know they can often look like a musical pack mule!

Other apps are very useful in therapy.  Apps for communication and on-screen music-making are easy to access and program for individual clients.  These apps are much more user-friendly than the old-school augmentative communication devices.  

Children with autism are one group of clients that really seem to enjoy using touch-screen devices.  I know many music therapists who are using iPads very successfully with their clients who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). 

While I think that the iPad can be very useful in a therapy setting, there is some new research that might give us pause in thinking about promoting the unsupervised use of iPad and iPad-like technology.

A group of researchers from Missouri found that individuals with ASD spent over 60% of their free time using non-social media such as videos and games rather than social media such as chatting or e-mail.  You can find the research abstract here.  

Have you seen this phenomenon in your work?  Either as a music therapist, parent, or teacher?  

Do you think this is something we need to be concerned about?  And what do you think we can do to encourage more social media use with those clients who have ASD?  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Piano Stairs! Forget the Escalator!

The Daily Muse

 Welcome to the Daily Muse feature of Music Makes Sense!  This daily update brings you up to the minute news about music and music therapy as it relates to our professions, events and individual lives.  You can follow the daily entries by subscribing to Music Makes Sense on Twitter or by "Liking" the Facebook page for Music Makes Sense.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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Music makes sense because its motivating and fun!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mabye We Can Get Bono as Keynote Speaker...

The Daily Muse  

 Welcome to the Daily Muse feature of Music Makes Sense!  This daily update brings you up to the minute news about music and music therapy as it relates to our professions, events and individual lives.  You can follow the daily entries by subscribing to Music Makes Sense on Twitter or by "Liking" the Facebook page for Music Makes Sense.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

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"Music can change the world because it can change people." 
 ~ Bono

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