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Link Post Tue, Aug. 19, 2014 35 notes

Music Therapy Tools of the Trade / DIY Instruments!


Hey, everyone! In this post, I will be throwing it back to April 2014, when I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Annual Music Therapy Conference of the American Music Therapy Association in Buffalo, NY, in which my college music therapy professors were the conference co-hosts! In this post, I will…

Link Post Thu, Aug. 14, 2014 18 notes

If I Were a Music Therapy Student NOW…



Rachel Rambach, MT-BC, shares input in a blog post, answering what many music therapy students have asked her: “If you could be a music therapy student all over again, what would you do differently?”

Love the seventh one, need to work on the sixth one.

(via resilientknee)

Link Post Sat, Aug. 02, 2014 6 notes

Which Came First, the Music or the Musical? A Visual History of MT Language


  • The first reference to “musical therapy” [in the New York Times] occurred in an article published in 1919.
  • “Music therapy” first appeared in 1937; 4 articles included the phrase that year.
  • “Musical therapy” was initially the most commonly used phrase in the paper. “Music therapy” first surpassed it in 1937.
  • Although “music therapy” began to be used more consistently than “musical therapy” beginning in 1954, but it wasn’t until 1984 that this occurred every year.
  • The most articles that referenced “music therapy” were published in 2008. There were 13 that year.

(via Music Therapy Maven)

Text Post Sat, Jul. 19, 2014 35 notes

Music Therapy Tools of the Trade / DIY Instruments!


Hey, everyone! In this post, I will be throwing it back to April 2014, when I attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Annual Music Therapy Conference of the American Music Therapy Association in Buffalo, NY, in which my college music therapy professors were the conference co-hosts! In this post, I will share insight and ideas (with her permission) from Board Certified Music Therapist Ashley Jewell. Ashley received a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Shenandoah University in 2012, while then receiving her board certification in November of 2012. She currently works at A Place To Be in Middleburg, Virginia. A Place To Be’s mission statement is, "to help people face, navigate, and overcome life’s challenges through the therapeutic arts". Check out A Place To Be’s website, along with Ashley’s full bio at http://www.aplacetobeva.org/.

Ashley’s presentation at the MAR-AMTA Conference was titled, Music Therapy Tools of the Trade. In this student-focused presentation, she takes us back to the basics, then moving along to ideas for DIY instruments.

Back to the Basics

  • Portability is key! Make sure you always have your guitar tuner, extra strings, and picks. (My input: There are tons of free apps for tuners on Apple’s app store! My favorite is insTuner.)
  • Have a spare iPod dock and charger, and a wireless speaker. (Personal input again: I recently bought this speaker on Amazon, and it is absolutely incredible for the price point!)
  • Have a back up plan. Music therapists don’t only improvise musically; they must improvise within the session if anything does not go as planned, or if a client has a surprise meltdown!
  • Stock up on Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and a good quality dirty instrument bag. Hand sanitizer is for therapist use only (you don’t want to make your client feel uncomfortable about “being dirty”), and clorox wipes should be used on every used instrument after every session. The dirty instrument bag is a fantastic idea to separate used and unused instruments, so you don’t end up wasting Clorox wipes that you didn’t need to use.
  • And finally, have your session plan and data collection. Those two final things may just be the most important for each session!

And Now for Ideas…Yay!

Nonverbal Communication Tools
If you have a nonverbal client, Ashley offered these ideas to help meet them where they are:

  • Happy and Sad face laminated print-outs. Clients can point, touch, or gaze at one of the faces to make a choice.
  • Add other emotions! Excited, angry, day dreaming, surprised, etc.
  • Add velcro to use with a felt board if you wish.
  • Use the back of the faces for Yes or No questions.

You completed your session, but there are still five minutes on the clock…what do you do?!

  • Bubbles. Bubbles work on many areas on improvement including breath support, turn taking and waiting, oral function, and passing to your neighbor. For lower functioning clients, bubbles work great to work on eye tracking and reaching/gross motor movement. For pre-schoolers, bubbles are a fun and entertaining way to work on counting.
  • Slinky. Slinkies work great for bilateral movements, reaching to touch/gross motor movement, functional hand use, and tactile/auditory stimulation.

And now my favorite part…the DIY instruments that we all got to play!



Materials Needed: zip ties, washers, hot glue, electrical tape (for color)

  1. Add washers to zip tie
  2. Close zip tie to first click and cut off the tail
  3. Add a dab of hot glue
  4. Cover the clasp (or the entire zip tie) with electrical tape of your color choice
  5. To use: Hold in hand or slip on wrist, then shake and enjoy!

Fuzzy Sodas Bottle Shakers


Materials Needed: mini soda bottles (washed and label removed), “shaky stuff” (rice, beads, beans, etc.), hot glue, exciting fabric, elastic, twine

  1. Fill bottles with “shaky stuff” and hot glue the lid back on
  2. Sew a little pouch with a draw string and elastic handle (the pattern is in the back)
  3. Fasten around the bottle
  4. To use: Shake and enjoy!

Wacky Soda Bottle Shakers


Materials Needed: mini soda bottles (washed and label removed), rice, hot glue, Mardi Gras beads, food coloring

  1. Fill bottles with rice, add a few drops of food coloring, shake until evenly colored
  2. Hot glue Mardi Gras beads in a wacky design (this also gives children with lesser fine motor movement something easier to grip on to!)
  3. To use: Shake and enjoy!

Flowers (Springtime activity)

  • Preschool: Each child gets two different colored paper laminated flowers. Music therapist sings a song, asking for a different color each time. (Goals: color identification, discriminating between two objects, following directions)
  • Middle or High School: Each child gets one paper laminated flower and a dry erase marker. Have them each write down or draw a picture of what they like to do in the Spring. Sing the song and have each child plug in their answers. (Goals: original thought)

Laughing Symphony

  • This is an activity for higher functioning individuals.
  • Everyone picks an instrument and “plays” it using laughter (“ha ha ha!”)
  • Goals: Fine and gross motor movement, creativity, self-esteem, proprioception

I hope you all gained some great ideas, enjoyed this post, and maybe even became inspired to create some of your own DIY instruments…this post may be fun and creative enough as is, but the effect was multiplied tenfold while actually attending the session! Special thanks to Ashley Jewell for being so fabulous and giving me permission to share her ideas!

Link Post Fri, Jul. 11, 2014 14 notes

Parkinson’s Patients Groove to Music


“In general, the elements of music travel in the brain differently than just verbal commands,” she said. “But when you pair things with rhythm, rhythm cues your motor cortex in your brain to fire more efficiently, so that your muscles fire more efficiently and appropriately, and it has the ability to bypass disease and injury.”

-Carolyn Dobson, MT-BC

Link Post Tue, Jul. 08, 2014 11 notes

5 Ways to Handle Misrepresentation of Music Therapy

(Source: thrivemusictherapy)

Text Post Mon, Jun. 23, 2014 21 notes

Three Reasons Salary Negotiation is Critical to Music Therapists


As the season of commencements comes to a close, job searching for new graduates is revving up. As a new music therapy professional, just securing a position can seem daunting. While on the job hunt, don’t be intimidated by negotiating! Here are three important reasons all music therapists should be negotiating their salaries and/or rates.

1. Your future depends on it.

Our income carries major influence over our lifestyle. Whether you can afford to travel for a friend’s wedding across the country, deal with an unexpected medical bill, or pay off your student loans faster will be determined by your pay. Many music therapists (including yours truly) depend on second and even third jobs to cushion their bank accounts each month and pay off student debts. This means extra hours each week are being spent earning money instead of pursuing activities that are meaningful to you including relationships with friends/family, creative pursuits, or self-care.

Past the immediate month-to-month direct deposits into your bank account, your salary may determine your pay at future positions. If you’re recruited for an awesome job a few years from now, they may want to know your salary at your previous position. If the new company had promised you a 20% raise over your previous salary, there’s a $1,250 difference if your salary is $30k vs. $35k. Your salary today has a rippling effect for your tomorrow.

2. Music therapists are routinely under-valued.

The average salary for all music therapists is $52,000. It’s not awful, but it could be a lot better for the skill set we carry. As a comparison, the median salary for an occupational therapy aide (requiring only an associate’s degree) is $53,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To me, this is unacceptable. There is debate about whether requiring Master’s-level entry would raise music therapists’ pay to be closer to that of OTs and PTs which both require Master’s degrees to practice. While that discussion will continue, music therapists ultimately need to advocate for better compensation today.

3. The majority of music therapists are women.

It’s a fact: women are less likely to negotiate their salaries (26% of women vs. 37% of men). According to the 2013 AMTA Workforce Analysis, 88% of music therapists are women. This means that the average music therapist is not giving herself the opportunity to earn more and positively influence her future. The wage gap between between men and women is apparent, and female music therapists should not let themselves become a statistic.


Click HERE for tips on negotiating your compensation from LearnVest.com, a great website for financial literacy. For the most up-to-date information about music therapy pay by state, population, and years of experience, check out the 2013 American Music Therapy Association Workforce Analysis HERE. It’s free to current AMTA Members!

Although my own negotiations didn’t result in higher pay, the confidence I gained in voicing my value to my employer will serve me well in future negotiations and advocacy. Bottom line: if you don’t ask, there’s a 100% chance you won’t get a better compensation package. Music therapists, we need to be communicating our value to employers.

Link Post Mon, Jun. 23, 2014 12 notes

My Worst Fear About Music Therapy’s Future | Music Therapy Ed


More on the importance of salary negotiation from Kat Fulton, MT-BC. 

Quote Post Tue, Jun. 17, 2014 23 notes

“If we use the word music therapy generically the way we use Kleenex to refer to any tissue, we’re not being precise. So, a number of us in the field have opted for the word reserved music therapy for things that fit that definition that involves a licensed music therapist and to use musical intervention just to mean anything else.”

Daniel Levitin, PhD

Read/hear the full interview ” Music and Your Health” by the American Psychological Association here.

(Source: thrivemusictherapy)

Quote Post Mon, May. 19, 2014 24 notes

I believe we’ve reached a point of clinical practice and theoretical development to move beyond music preference. Speaking frankly, any trained musician with average empathic abilities can assess for music preference and provide a live music experience using those preferences. Only a music therapist, however, is trained to assess a music relationship developed from lived experiences informed by cultural, religious, and personal contexts, and to integrate that relationship into a therapeutic process that safely challenges patients to optimize their wellness.

It’s time we planted our flag in that unique therapeutic experience and claimed it as our own.

Noah Potvin, MMT, MT-BC, LPC

(Source: thrivemusictherapy)

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