Soundscape Music Therapy – What’s in a Name?

What is a soundscape exactly?

And why did I choose that for the name of my business?

The short (and somewhat embarrassing) version of the story is that the textbook we used for our world music class at the University of Evansville was called Soundscapes. Back in 2004 when I was looking for a musical term to go along with “music therapy” for my business name, this seemed to fit. Actually, it just “felt right.” The longer I’ve had this name for my practice, though, the more I feel that it really is the perfect fit for the work I do.

“Soundscape” fits perfectly with what I believe about music therapy and the role of music in people’s lives. 

Think of a soundscape as analogous to a landscape. A landscape includes the broad view of everything you can see around you. It includes naturally-occurring elements (hills, lakes, trees) and elements structured by humans (flower beds, grass, buildings, lawn furniture). Some features are relatively permanent, and some, like the sunset or a rainbow, are only temporary. We also appreciate a wide variety of landscapes, be they deserts, mountains, oceans, or ice floes. We think of “landscapes” and “landscaping” in aesthetic terms, either appreciating what is already there, or working to create a more pleasing view by changing the landscape itself or changing our own viewpoint.

Now, think of the auditory or “hear-able” elements of an environment. These are the elements that make up a soundscape. They are the sounds of a place, an event, an experience, or a life. Some of the elements are naturally occurring or beyond our control – the sounds of rainfall, laughter, our loved ones’ voices outside the bedroom door. Other elements are those that we choose to add to our environment – music, TV, conversation. Each community, each place, each environment has a different soundscape, depending on the sounds of the weather, the animals, and the people in that place at any given time.

Your soundscape is the sound of your life.

And everyone deserves to have a beautiful soundscape. What does this mean for music therapy? As I’ve been thinking about what this means, I’ve been asking these questions:

What if we choose to accept the elements of our soundscape that are beyond our control?

Your voice doesn’t sound the way it did fifty years ago. Your stroke left you with difficulty playing a steady beat, let alone your guitar. You can’t get out to hear the symphony play anymore. The lady across the drum circle only knows the words to one song (“You Are My Sunshine,” of course.) Maybe you can’t change these things, but you can work within them to experience and express beauty.

What if we choose to work on the elements we can change, for a more aesthetically pleasing, a more musical soundscape?

A music therapist can help you find the music that you need to hear, or the instrument that you helps you to get your music out. You can figure out how to quiet the sounds of clattering tray carts or loud neighbors and bring out more music, more laughter, more conversation.

What if we choose to hear the beauty in our soundscape, regardless of those things we can’t change?

You figure out how to make music with those noisy neighbors. You decide to appreciate our music on the marimba, even if you used to play the piano. That lady in the drum circle singing “You Are My Sunshine” gets a whole new groove going, allowing a entirely new musical beauty to emerge. Sometimes that shift in perspective makes a world of difference, and you can find beauty even in the strangest, most foreign environment.

What if we choose to let that musical beauty spill over into the rest of our lives?

…how we see each other, how we experience day-to-day events, how we handle illness and recovery and death? You learn that your noisy neighbor is an old country boy, too, and you start spending time together playing checkers. Your hands get stronger from all that marimba playing, and you find it’s easier to manage your fork and knife at the dinner table. You spend more time laughing and telling stories with your kids and grandkids, and you know that the love you share is real.

Maybe my job as a music therapist is to help people with soundscaping.

Rather than working to improve the looks of your natural environment through landscaping, I’m helping you improve the sound of your life by bringing out the aural beauty of the elements that are already there. Maybe by beautifying your soundscape, other parts of your life become more beautiful, too.

Soundscape Music Therapy. Yes, I think that name fits perfectly.

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Introducing… the Soundscape Music Therapy newsletter

Last week I brought you news of Music Therapy House Calls, a new service I am providing for adults with long-term care needs and their caregivers, especially for people who are aging in place. Today, I am excited to introduce you to another new (and free!!) informational service – the Soundscape Music Therapy newsletter.

Being out there in the elder care and health care world, I know that it is not always possible to launch the a full, ideally-structured music therapy program as soon as you would like. You might not feel that you have enough information about music therapy to invest time and money into starting a program. I also might guess that you would like to start exploring meaningful music experiences with your loved ones now. 

This newsletter, then, is for you.

In this newsletter, I will share tips, stories, and ideas on music and music therapy with older adults and other people with long-term care needs. This newsletter is a work-in-progress, so I would love any feedback that you have for me about what you would like to see covered in this newsletter.

You can check out the first edition of the newsletter here, then subscribe here. Enjoy!

Introducing… Music Therapy House Calls

Today I am pleased to announce the official launch of a new service from Soundscape Music Therapy. I’m calling it Music Therapy House Calls, after the old-fashioned practice of medical and healthcare professionals coming to your home to provide services. (These days, we also call it “home care.”)

With this service, I hope to reach some of the growing population of seniors in the Kansas City area who are aging in place – trying to stay in their own homes as long as possible. Music therapy can help those seniors who have emotional, social, and spiritual needs from dealing with long-term illnesses and aging processes that may be detracting from their quality of life. In particular, this service may be most beneficial to seniors who are dealing with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, depression or anxiety, bereavement/grief issues, or chronic pain.

Music therapy can also help caregivers. If you are living as a full-time caregiver with your loved one, music therapy can help reduce your stress level and strengthen and normalize your relationship with your loved one, especially if it has changed significantly because of health concerns. If you are caring for someone from a distance, you can take comfort in having a music therapist contributing to your loved one’s quality of life and being an extra friendly set of eyes and ears monitoring how your loved one is doing.

Although I have already had the privilege of working with a handful of seniors on a private basis, I am very excited to be launching this service in a formal way. Please check out the Music Therapy House Calls page for more information on this service, or contact me with any questions you may have.

Networking resource: Twitter chats

Here’s my confession of the day: I love Twitter. This micro-blogging, social media platform may seem confusing to some, but I have found it to be a great resource for connecting with other like-minded people from my city and across the world, including music therapists, musicians, and healthcare professionals. If you’re not already on Twitter, check out this post from JoAnn Jordan on getting started with Twitter.

One special use of Twitter is for chats. I’ve found these are a great way to meet and get to know other people who are interested in similar topics. They then make great people to follow on Twitter all the time.

Each chat is run slightly differently, but here are the basic steps to getting involved. (I am assuming you already have a Twitter account.)

1. Find a chat. If you’re already following people who are interested in a similar topic, chances are you’ll get invited to participate in a chat. Invitations are definitely not necessary, though! This Google doc has a list of Twitter chats, including scheduling info and who hosts the chat. The host would be a great person to contact if you aren’t sure how to join in.

2. Take note of the hashtag for the chat. Besides the date and time of the chat, you’ll definitely need to know the hashtag, as this will help you find other participants’ tweets and let them know that you are participating in the chat, too. A hashtag is simply a word preceded by this symbol: #. (For example, I have participated in #eldercarechat and #hcsm.) These hashtags are listed on the Google doc schedule mentioned above. 

3. Choose a chat platform, if desired. You could follow chats using whatever method you normally use to access Twitter, but some services exist to make chats easier. I use TweetDeck if I’m on my phone, and TweetChat if I’m at my computer. TweetDeck allows you to set up a column for a particular hashtag, so only the tweets with that hashtag will show up. This is handy if you’re participating in a chat and don’t want to be distracted by unrelated tweets for that hour. TweetChat has this same functionality with an added bonus – it will automatically add the hashtag for you, so that you can keep participating in the chat without having to remember the hashtag each time.

4. Look for topics/questions. Once you have your eyes peeled for the chat hashtag at the scheduled time, you’ll want to look for questions or topics given by the moderator. In fact, the first one might be, “introduce yourself.” (Easy, right?) Typically, the moderator will give the questions one at a time, and it helps to reply with the question number in your reply so other people know what you’re responding to (e.g. “Q1 Here’s my brilliant answer #appropriatehashtag”).

5. Don’t forget the hashtag! You do need to put that hashtag on every tweet meant for the chat; otherwise, some of the other participants might miss what you have to say.

6. Interact, interact, interact. Retweets (RTs) are welcome, as are replies to other users asking questions or giving feedback (@username). The very cool thing about Twitter chats (in my opinion) is that they draw a broad audience – for example, #eldercarechat draws family caregivers, people in the legal or consulting worlds, and direct care professionals like me. I love the variety in perspectives that these chats offer.

7. Follow people you find interesting. This is the best use of Twitter, right? Once you’ve found these great people, you can certainly follow them outside of the scheduled chat time.

8. Look for transcripts if you miss a chat. I’ve caught up on chats for #hpm (hospice and palliative medicine) and #eldercarechat when I couldn’t participate at the scheduled time. The moderator will most likely send a tweet with the link when the chat transcript is ready.

It has been my experience that people participating in Twitter chats are always welcoming to newcomers, so I hope you will decide to try one on for size. Here are the chats that I participate in at least some of the time – consider this your invitation to join us!

#hpm – Hospice and palliative medicine – Wednesdays at 8 pm CST

#eldercarechat – For caregivers and professionals working with seniors – Every other Wednesday at noon CST

#homecarechat – On topics about home health care – 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month at noon CST

Thank you to Michelle Erfurt of the Music Therapy Tween for suggesting this post! Do any of you participate in Twitter chats? What do you think?

When NOT to Hire a Music Therapist in Long-Term Care: Maximizing the Resources You Have

GUITAR BOY © Paul Moore | Dreamstime.com

This post is the last in my series on hiring a music therapist in long-term care. In this series, I have described the various ways music therapists work in special care, skilled nursing and assisted living settings – including one-on-one visits, music therapy groups, and specialized music-making groups – and the particular reasons why each of these services would benefit your facility and the residents that live there.

After reading these posts, you could be thinking a few different things. You might think, “Great! I have to get me one of those music therapists right now!” In that case, please contact me about arranging music therapy services for your facility!

You just might be thinking, though, “Wow. I’d love to have a music therapist here, but I’m not sure what we can afford.” Of course, maximally efficient use of the budget must be your priority, especially as health care costs continue to rise. (An activity director I know says she has been “squeezing a dollar out of a dime for twenty years.”) To help you stay cost-effective, many music therapy agencies, including Soundscape Music Therapy, will help you to design a music therapy program that will address the most resident needs for the budget you have, as well as consulting with you on music activity programming other than music therapy.

In fact, even when you can’t have a music therapist, you can still do a lot to serve your residents through music. In fact, there are times when the people you’ve already got might even be more effective than a music therapist, especially if they already have a special relationship with your residents. Here are some resources to draw on:

Recorded music

Of course, recorded music is the easiest way to bring high-quality music to your residents at any time of day, and you’re probably using it already. These days it is pretty easy to find digital downloads of the specific songs you want on sites like iTunes and Amazon.com. (I include links to Amazon.com that will take you directly to digital downloads of the songs I discuss on this website.) You can easily build playlists of resident favorites to fit the season, the activity, or the time of day (high-energy songs vs. sentimental songs, for example) and play these back on computer speakers or by burning CDs to play on boomboxes.* One caveat with recorded music is that it is possible – and easy – to go a bit overboard with playing music all the time. Sometimes silence is okay, too – just ask your residents what they prefer and observe their reactions to hearing recorded music at various times of the day.

TV broadcasts

PBS stations frequently broadcast music programs, including performance by the Metropolitan Opera and the recent Motown Tribute at the White House. These would be great additions to an activity calendar, especially if you have a good quality TV and sound system available. (I can imagine a wine and cheese reception to go along with an opera broadcast. How sophisticated!) It would also be a good idea to keep these broadcasts in mind for residents who might enjoy watching these on their own in their room.

Volunteer musicians

Churches and schools are both great places to find people who might want to perform music for your residents, and not just during Christmas caroling season. I have been part of a church bell choir that performed Easter music at several nursing homes, and in high school, I participated in a group of students from the National Honor Society performing at area long-term care facilities. In fact, both of these experiences reinforced my desire to become a music therapist. There are so many possibilities for volunteer musicians – church musicians could lead hymn sings, or high school students could perform the music they are preparing for the regional and state solo and ensemble competitions that happen each spring. While it might take some time and effort on your part to recruit volunteers, I think the effort would pay off.

Residents’ family members and friends

Yet another group of people to draw from are the friends and family of your residents. Do grandkids want to perform before the dinner hour? Do residents’ children have ideas on who could volunteer to lead sing-alongs? I once worked at a facility that had a resident’s family perform each Christmas – this family included about a dozen people of all ages, and everyone in the facility looked forward to this performance each year. There might be people willing to share their musical talents, if only someone would ask.

Other staff members

Speaking of people who are just waiting to be asked to share their musical talents, don’t forget to draw on the musical talents of the staff members at your facility. Another facility I served had a talent show each year featuring residents and staff members. I saw one young CNA perform a rap for the audience of residents and staff members – they all loved it! Plus, when staff members get to share their music with residents, it helps to build rapport among all the members of the community.

Your residents

To name just one more group of people who might just need an invitation to play music for everyone else, don’t forget the residents themselves! I have known residents that just needed a bit of encouragement or adaptation from the music therapist or other staff members, then they were able and willing to play music in the nursing home. I have a client in his late 90s who leads sing-alongs from the piano a couple of times a month! I think it is always worth showcasing a resident’s skills, and if everyone else can benefit from that musical performance, all the better.

You can do a lot to bring music to your residents by maximizing the resources you have, and sometimes these end up being the most special music experiences of all. When have you had a particularly great music experience in your facility? Please leave your comment below!

*There are some restrictions on copying and distributing copyrighted material, including music. Many healthcare facilities should already have a license that allows them to play copyrighted recorded music in public areas. For more information, visit copyright.gov or read my blog post on the subject.

Hiring a music therapist in long-term care: Specialized music-making groups

This is the third post in my series on hiring a music therapist in long-term care. For an introduction to this series and links to previous posts, click here.

In my last post, I described the music therapy groups that I provide in long-term care. By my definition (which does not necessarily match other music therapists’ descriptions), these music therapy groups are small, focused on the individual residents’ needs, and centered on being adaptive and in-the-moment.

I contrast this with what I call specialized music-making groups. These are the groups that are focused on a particular music-making activity, such as:

  • Resident bell choirs
  • Sing-alongs
  • Drum circles
  • Kitchen bands
  • Chair dancing classes

As you may notice, what people do in these groups overlaps with what people do in music therapy groups (e.g. playing instruments, singing, drumming, dancing). The main differences (as I see them) are:

  • More focus is on the musical product/experience than on non-musical therapeutic goals.
  • The primary purpose is often recreation or “having fun.”
  • More residents can participate, since less adaptation takes place in the moment.
  • Experiences may be more public, especially if a group performs. The public may include just the long-term care center or the wider community.

Since this type of group is not defined as therapy and is not centered on a therapeutic process, it does not need to be facilitated by a music therapist. (Drum circle facilitators, music educators, church choir directors, teen volunteers and activity professionals could all be great with leading music-making groups.)

Still, a music therapist would be an excellent person to hire to facilitate these kinds of groups. Why? Because music therapists have the musical skills, group leadership skills, and experience in working with older adults to be effective facilitators for this kind of experience. We also are familiar with arranging music and adapting musical experiences to meet the needs of residents. This means a music therapist might be able to help residents participate successfully in a music-making group with their peers when they might not have been able to do so otherwise.

Over the years I have worked with seniors, I have been in and out of many long-term care facilities and have seen a variety of resident music-making groups. One thing that I have observed is that many groups have a season – they are successful while the right mix of residents is participating, but they come to an end as residents leave the group. I think this could be a great time to introduce a new musical experience to engage the veteran music-makers and newer residents alike.

What are the favorite groups in your facility? Music therapists and other musicians, what music-making groups have you facilitated in long-term care facilities?

P.S. I hope you’ve had a chance to see the movie “Young@Heart,” which shares the story of a group of senior citizens who perform a wide range of music, including contemporary popular songs. It is at once hilarious and uplifting – the perfect example of a specialized music-making group!

Latest News from Soundscape Music Therapy

So many exciting things have been happening for Soundscape Music Therapy in the last couple of months, I wanted to write a quick update to let you know what’s going on!

I am back at full-steam after my maternity leave and a deliberately slow entry back into clinical work. (Our little one is sleeping better, which means I am, too!) I have plenty of openings for new clients at this time, so please contact me about getting music therapy services started.

This coming weekend, I will be participating in the first ever Online Conference for Music Therapists. I am looking forward to this conference as a great opportunity to connect with other music therapists from around the world. I am excited to gather new ideas to bring back to my cinical work. I will also be giving a presentation on how music therapists use music for self-care, based on the research I conducted for my master’s thesis.

I am also looking forward to attending the American Music Therapy Association’s Midwestern Regional Conference, being held April 8-10 here in Overland Park, Kansas. I will also be giving a presentation at this conference in my role as our region’s representative to the government relations committee, along with the chairs of the state advocacy task forces in our region. We will be giving an update on the State Recognition Operational Plan, which is aimed to have the MT-BC credential recognized as the credential necessary to provide music therapy in each state.

On this blog in the coming weeks, you can look forward to the last two installments in my series on hiring a music therapist in long-term care, as well as more song spotlights, which are aimed to help caregivers connect with their clients and loved ones through music.

As always, please feel free to contact me directly with any questions you have about music therapy or topics you’d like to see addressed on this blog. Thank you for your continued interest!

Hiring a Music Therapist in Long-Term Care: Music Therapy Groups

This is the third article in a series about hiring a music therapist in long-term care. For an introduction to the series and links to other posts, please click here.

Most of the clients I see in long-term care are in music therapy groups. By my definition, these groups are smaller – usually no more than 12 people – and they are built around a variety of experiences that are meant to engage the group members in music, with group and individual goals guiding the group process. Some music therapy groups in long-term care may be designed with a focus on physical rehabilitation/exercise or deeper psychological processing, but for the majority of my groups, the focus is on residents sharing their lives with one another through music. That means our primary group goals are often social interaction, creative emotional expression, and life review.

Advantages of music therapy groups

Cost-effectiveness

Perhaps the most obvious advantage, music therapy groups can involve more residents at a lesser expense. Although some people truly need one-on-one intervention, many people can be successful – and perhaps even more fully engaged – in a music therapy group. This may be true even if they are not successful in other group activities.

Emphasis on social interaction

Music really is something that we experience in community, so music therapy groups are perfect for encouraging interaction and relationship-building among residents and staff. This is probably different than with performers who come to entertain the residents with a musical performance, since listening to a performance is often a more passive experience.

Group process encourages life review

Even as the communal experience of music-making leads to social interaction in general, the music experiences and verbal discussions can be structured to encourage life review. As residents share their memories, others’ memories can also be triggered, which can draw residents into sharing who might not do so in a 1:1 setting.

Variety of experiences

The music therapy groups that I facilitate integrate many different kinds of music and a variety of music experiences. For a list of music experiences that I use frequently in music therapy groups, click here. This variety means that I can meet the needs, strengths, and interests of many different people in the same session.

Flexibility

In contrast to music groups focused on a particular activity (e.g. sing-alongs) or a particular outcome (e.g. handbell choir), my primary focus in music therapy groups is to respond to residents in the moment, with both verbal and musical interactions. If that changes the course of the experiences I had planned, that is perfectly fine.

Adaptation as the group evolves

In addition to flexibility in the moment of music-making, I am also flexible to adapt the flow of music-making experiences as the group changes over time. As residents enter and exit the music therapy group, we may shift to more singing, or more drumming, or more movement experiences. We may bring a focus to the music of different cultures or genres or time periods to suit the members of a group at a particular time. This process of adaptation is completely centered on the needs of the residents rather than any idea of what should be accomplished during a particular group session.

What group music therapy is not

Primarily focused on entertainment

While music therapy is often entertaining (and probably should be in this setting), the goal is not merely to keep the residents busy and happy.

Overly serious

Again, there are exceptions, but most of the groups I facilitate do not focus on deep issues or require a lot of hard work on the part of the resident. Sometimes I even discourage labeling a group “music therapy” on a calendar or when inviting residents to attend, because the label of “therapy” just might be too intimidating for what these groups involve.

Product-oriented

In music therapy groups, we are not preparing for a performance, not expecting clients to reach a particular standard. While I do believe that the aesthetic value of the music made by clients is an indication of the health of the group process (that is, I want to help clients move from random banging on drums to a steadier rhythmic pulse), I am not trying to get residents ready to perform on a stage. (Performance-based groups do have a role in long-term care – that will be addressed in the next post in this series.)

Activity-oriented

Music therapy groups are also not focused on one musical activity (e.g. sing-along, chair dancing, rhythm band). Since these groups are resident-centered, integrating a variety of experiences in each session allows me as the music therapist to adapt the experiences in the session to meet the residents’ needs on a given day.

Of course, other music therapists will have their own way of structuring group music therapy to meet the needs of the residents and agencies they serve, but these ideas do apply to all of the group music therapy sessions I provide. How do the music therapy groups in your facility or practice compare?

In the meantime, stay tuned for the next post in this series on specialized music-making groups!

Long-Term Care: When Should I Hire a Music Therapist?

When should a long-term care facility hire a music therapist? We know that people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities can have a wide range of physical and emotional needs: declines in motor functioning, social isolation, depression, anxiety, confusion, physical pain. We also know that music can be an effective way of caring for many of these needs.

Perhaps ideally, every facility would have a board-certified music therapist available to assess and work with every resident, but this is just not practical for many agencies. It is possible, though, for you to have a music therapy program that reaches residents in need in the most effective manner, while staying within your budget.

Long-term care facilities have several options to consider when planning a music therapy program. These include options for large and small group sessions as well as one-on-one sessions. It is my hope that this series will help you to determine which services will best meet the needs of your residents.

In the posts to come in this series, we will consider these options:

I hope you stay tuned for the posts in this series, but in the meantime I would love to hear any questions that you might have about the services a music therapist can provide. Please comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer your questions in the upcoming posts!

Music Therapy Advocacy: Potent Presentations

This month, I am joining a group of music therapy bloggers and podcasters in the effort to encourage music therapy advocacy. In my last post, I asked you, as someone who cares about music therapy, to share your story with others. This can be done in many ways, both impromptu and planned. One of my favorite ways of advocating for music therapy is to speak to various groups about our profession and the work that I do.

If you are caregiver or a music lover, I would LOVE to speak to your group about music therapy! Please contact me if you are interested in scheduling a presentation – I can promise an engaging, enjoyable experience with plenty of music-making as we talk about how music therapy makes a difference.

The rest of this post is primarily aimed towards music therapists who are planning presentations of their own, although if you are not a music therapist, this will give you an idea of what to expect from me if I am presenting to your group!

So, music therapists, I want to encourage you to take every opportunity to speak about music therapy. Not only will this help more people understand what we do, but it also has the potential to open up doors for employment opportunities, and it will help you solidify your own perspective on music therapy and how it works. This prepares you for those more impromptu advocacy opportunities. (Elevator speech, anyone?)

Here are my top suggestions for planning a great introductory music therapy presentation:

Start with music

I have given presentations to groups ranging from physicians in a hospital to retired ladies in a church group, and with every presentation I have started with some sort of music-making experience. Of course, we music therapists know how useful music is for engaging a group, so it should be natural for us to start presentations this way. I think of this opening experience as one for the group members, not necessarily about the clinical population they might be interested in, so the music experience is adult and usually requiring a higher functioning level than some client populations may have. These experiences never fail to get the group alert and engaged in the subject matter.

Know your audience

You may be speaking to a group interested in a particular client population (e.g. a hospice interdisciplinary team) or you may be addressing folks who are interested in music therapy in general. Tailor your presentation to fit the group’s interests. When I speak to a general-interest group, I try to include anecdotes from various client populations as well as a wider range of music-making experiences. For a group interested in a particular client population, I keep anecdotes and experiences more narrowly-focused.

Cover the basics

No matter who I am speaking to, I always try to include several points: a brief definition of music therapy, a description of the entry-level music therapy education and the MT-BC credential, an overview of the various populations we serve and settings we work in, and a brief description of the domains/goal areas that can be addressed in music therapy. I have found that some people have an idea of what music therapy is, but that idea might be vague or rather narrow. I want my audience to understand the depth and breadth of education and experience that credentialed music therapists have, and I don’t want to leave the impression that what I do from day-to-day is what all music therapists do. Still, I try to keep this section of my presentation brief, as it can be less engaging than the story-sharing and music-making parts of the presentation.

Share stories

Nothing makes music therapy more real than hearing about how it worked for a particular person or group. Of course, it is vital that we keep confidentiality in mind before sharing any client’s story, but with the appropriate permissions and safeguards, clinical anecdotes can help your audience understand how music therapy really works. I choose different anecdotes based on the audience’s interests, and I try to include at least a couple of contrasting stories to give a better picture of how I work. Photos, videos, and sound recordings definitely add to this part of the presentation, so add these in whenever you have the chance.

Make lots of music

Even if your group doesn’t remember the definition of music therapy or the fabulous clinical anecdotes you shared, they will probably remember the music. The music experiences you plan are a chance for your audience members to reconnect with the value of music in their own lives as a way to understand how music can work clinically. I always open and close the presentation with music, and I try to include as many musical experiences in the middle that we have time for. Singing, playing drums, doing rhythmic movement – all of these are ways to help your audience members engage with the material you are presenting.

As you seek to advocate for music therapy, I encourage you to find opportunities to give presentations about your work. Get out there, and good luck!