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: 

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