• Good News

    Things Nobody Tells You About Using “Food” as a Motivator

    Back Mountain Music Therapy began working with a boy who was absolutely developmentally stuck. It had been reported to the mother that the client was making gains in “flashcard” academic learning (thinking). We estimated that this was highly unlikely. We had mentioned that our thought was that there was a possible “food” motivator. The food motivator ensured that the professionals had obtained the required data. This resulted in the mother replying “Yes, that is the program on his education plan!” External motivators redirect the learning. What exactly are the kids really learning? The reward did convey a message. I am pretty confident that I could get my dog to “identify”…

  • Good News

    What No One Tells you about Teens Making Music

    Even the typically developing teens with whom I have worked demonstrated they’re very best through music-making play. Their up and down turbulence took a detour but stayed on a path with direction. These teens did so freely and together. When the boys were done, they felt confident and were able to recognize their own accomplishments through their play. These troubled teens were able to develop their identities in the group and individually. Simultaneously,  the teen moods were regulated. Ultimately, they I think our biggest obstacle is often our own, overtaxed, defensive minds. Music helps us to slow down, and de-clutter the fog that the critical, defensive mind creates. In working…

  • Good News

    Developmental-Relational Music Therapy and Self Regulation

    This video is about an 8-year-old client with ASD. We describe how working within a Developmental, Relational model of Music Therapy, this child was able to self regulate and self-initiate using the toilet for bowel movements. BMMT emphasizes that this was not a goal for BMMT, but rather a result of working in this manner.         If you would  like to hear more on Interoception, this video gives a very good explanation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ8rtjHUcNk      I also found this Tedx Talk on the subject is also very good and interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI_gG49sV2s

  • Good News

    Trust, Respect Resistance, But Persist Towards Growth – Part IV

     Resistance, Growth, Persistence, Persist Towards Growth We know that resistance can look like negative behavior sometimes if we don’t look deep enough at the why. We also know that repetitive behavior is remaining stuck. So how do we respect this, yet persist towards growth? We have already spoken about building trust and what that may look like, the process and time it may take. As the trusting relationship unfolds and the client starts into new areas of being, it may be uncomfortable and unfamiliar. The known is often preferable. Unfortunately, remaining with the known often aids a path towards isolating behavior. The familiar, no matter how unpleasant, can often be…

  • Good News

    NEW VIRTUAL SERVICES

    Nothing can be as effective as in-person Music Therapy Services. However, COVID is Hanging on and people are needing relief and services now, more than ever. Back Mountain Music Therapy did not jump into telehealth easily or quickly. We are seeing the need for some adaptions. Back Mountain Music Therapy has taken this time to begin ways to develop working with individuals online. Virtual sessions are often requiring the hand of parents or guardians. Working cooperatively may require an open mind. This may mean working with your dependent in possibly a different means than you have previously. There are some Clients that can work with the therapist with much less…

  • Good News

    Trust, Respect Resistance, But Persist Towards Growth – Part III

    Experience and Respect Resistance, But Persist Towards Growth This is the focus today, Experiencing and Respecting Resistance, yet Persisting towards Growth. Before working with resistance, trust needs to be firmly established(see prior blog post: https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2020/07/trust-respect-resistance-but-persist-towards-growth-part-ii/ . Back Mountain Music Therapy invests time and effort into establishing trust, the foundation of the relationship. A display of momentary discomfort can be a step towards growth. One has to go through to move out of “momentary discomfort” to better health. This is often where we begin to witness resistance. Some clients prefer safety and stability. Change needs to occur to stimulate growth. Change brings discomfort. Some prefer to remain in security, safeness, and…

  • Good News

    Trust, Respect Resistance, But Persist Towards Growth – Part II

       FOCUSING ON TRUST Trust requires predictability and familiarity, things we know we can count on. First focus on Trust. In order for any therapy to be effective, there must be a high level of trust established. We need to listen to our clients. Listen with our ears and our eyes and exclude judgement and comparison.How do we do this with the music? First , lets begin with the client that runs around the room with a big smile. He dmonstrates joyful engagement in the musical play. The engagement however, is breif. The running and his response to the therapist, the play, or the music is quick, breif, and exciteable.…

  • Good News

    BMMT Collaborator Vlog, Part 4

    Jessica Dunleavy has subcontracted in the Lackawanna County Schools for Back Mountain Music Therapy for several years. Jessica received her Music Therapy degree from Marywood University and has always demonstrated her natural ability with children. Ultimately, Jessica’s return to the area to work was a wonderful gift to Back Mountain Music Therapy and the Lackawanna Schools!

  • Good News

    Trust , Respect Resistance, but Persist towards Growth – Part 1

    Essential considerations in good therapy, establishing trust first, respect the resistance yet continue to proceed towards growth. “Change is inevitable, Growth is optional.” A quote relevent for todays’ life altering enviornment. If we choose, change can be a wonderful, unknown possibility. This quote has remained forever with me,stated by a principal in a school I once worked. The quote is quite relevent to our practice. In the Back Mountain Music Therapy Clinic, this is the path we take. What does this mean? How does this look? Why does this affect clients? Trust first. Back Mountain Music Therapy has not been shy about our bottom up approach in our work. When…

  • Good News

    BMMT Collaborator Vlog, Part 3

    This week we hear from Aidan Morad about his experiences at Back Mountain Music Therapy – The Heyward Rooms. Although Aidan completed his internship almost a year ago, his video is part of a team internship progject. After finishing his internship, Aidan went on to do some sub-contract work for Back Mountain Music Therapy. Aidan has now begun his Masters degree with Loyola University. COVID 19 has made things very unpredictable for everyone, however Aidan has adapted and is continuing to move forward. Lets hear what Aidan has to say:

  • Good News

    Veiws on Music Therapy, Bottom Up and Many Populations

      In every scenario of music therapy, music therapists are working towards bettering our clients. Music therapy services a wide range of population including mental health, hospice, individuals with autism, trauma issues, traumatic brain injury, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In many cases, we (as a profession) are working from a bottom-up approach meaning we are assessing the client’s capabilities and formulating goals and interventions based on the client’s basic brain development, and then building upwards from there. The bottom-up approach uses the intrinsic “iso-principle;” the “iso-principle” technique matches a client’s disposition and gradually adjusts it using musical ideas and stimuli which can be achieved by increasing or…

  • Good News

    Seeing a Person and Their Abilities, Strengths, Parts of the Whole

    My students know that, if I see a client goal starting out stating “Decrease……”, there will probably be a lecture to follow. I make a very big deal to the students about writing goals in the positive. I personally belive that it affects how you see your client and where the emphaisis will be in your sessions. Diminishing symptoms is not working towards growth and healing. The word diminsh means “to make or become less”. Growth is forward, upward movement, the ability to see the potential. I have often pointed my students towards the movie “The Giver”. Wikipedia states “The novel follows a 12-year-old boy named Jonas. The society has…

  • Good News

    BMMT Collaborator Vlog, Part 2

    Let’s hear from her former partner in BMMT Music Therapy learning,  Madison. Madison had gained employment in a New Jersey School before leaving her internship. She promptly took her exam, and due to COVID 19, is waiting to start her employment. However Madison, again, wasted no time and has begun to add to her website (https://gsmts.org/) Garden State Music Therapy, youtube posts, Instagram posts, and Facebook posts with blogging, songwriting, and a mid-week jam (Wednesdays at 1:00 E.T)  of music and movement for kids. Listen to what Madison had to say about BMMT before beginning her own Music Therapy journey.

  • Good News

    BMMT Collaborator Vlog, Part 1

    BMMT interns have worked together as their internships pleasently overlapped. Bridget and Madison worked with me and came up with the idea for this vlog highlighting the BMMT team’s  thoughts and experiences working with BMMT. This week, hear what Bridget has to say.  

  • Good News

    Music Therapy’s Universal Truths

           Adaptions have to be made with COVID 19. Alongside Back Mountain Music Therapy, I also am the Music Therapy Clinic Supervisor at Maywood University. When Music Therapy students finish their course- work for their bachelor degree, they then have to do an internship supervised by a certified Music Therapist. Some students intern with private Music Therapy companies, others go to larger companies where Music Therapists are employed as health team members. Back Mountain Music Therapy has been training interns since 2016. COVID 19 has made all of us have to think outside the box. I was approached by our program director when one of our former students…

  • Good News

    The Secret Ingredient to Child Engagement

    Does your child have difficulty staying engaged with you? Do they not interact with you at all? Or maybe your child does interact with you, but the interaction is very short? Well, you are not alone! There is a vital step that your child has to take before they can leap into an interaction with you. This secret ingredient is grabbing their attention. Your child will not be capable of interaction until they are available and ready. Let’s take a look at Mary’s journey.   When Mary first began her session at Back Mountain Music Therapy, she wandered around the room in her own world and did not appear to…

  • Good News

    Great Lessons learned from BMMT Intern

    Back Mountain Music Therapy has continued to grow in it’s practice. We have been very fortunate to have a number of interns to work and learn with. Bridget McCormick is out current intern.Bridget has been with us for a little while and is coming upon the last 1/3rd of her internship. Learn a little about Bridget, ask questions, and in the coming months, we can hear about the aspects of Music Therapy that Bridget is exceles in and is finding to be of interest:   From a young age, I have always been connected to music. I have memories of myself sitting at my piano with dad as he helped…

  • Good News

    Music Therapy, Bottom Up Method, Feeding the Senses

    One of the many areas of need worked on during Music Therapy sessions at Back Mountain Music Therapy are sensory processing issues. These issues are often found in people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder, Smith-Magennis Syndrome, Rubinstein-Tayebi Syndrome, Cornelia De Lange Syndrome, Auditory Processing disorder and a host of other developmental syndromes.  Sensory processing disorders affect many basic systems such as visual, auditory, tactile, smell, taste, vestibular, proprioception.  One common symptom of these disorders is the inability to regulate incoming stimuli, to the point which an induvial is totally overwhelmed.   The symptoms vary from person to person, and sometimes from situation to situation within the same individual. Sometimes we…

  • Good News

    The Buisness Grows, Others Speak

    Back Mountain Music Therapy, The Heyward Rooms has moved and grown. We are hosting our 4th intern now and have had 4 subcontractors in the last 3-4 years. The business has stretched its wings, and although we have written mostly about autism, we have always worked with populations with needs beyond the spectrum. It has been very difficult to continue to write and work as both the business and I have continued to grow and educate itself and others. However, now there are more to help. This week, we will be introducing our new Intern Madison Indyk, a graduate from Marywood University. You will be hearing more from Madison throughout…

  • Good News

    Goal Attainment Scaling: A Method for Evaluating Progress toward Developmentally Based Music-Centered Treatment Goals for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder JOHN A. CARPENTE,

    Often people think Music Therapy is not “Evidenced Based.” Here is some research on evaluating developmentally-based, music centered treatment goals. I often refer to Dr. Carpente’s website, “Developmental Music Health Services” (http://dmhmusictherapy.com/) for information. Currently, I am being supervised by Dr. Carpente to learn even more. Here is his research on writing and attaining Music Therapy goals for children on the spectrum. Last week you were able to view an interview with Dr. Carpente on how this works, now see the research! “Goal Attainment Scaling: A Method for Evaluating Progress toward Developmentally Based Music-Centered Treatment Goals for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” – Dr. John Carpente, PH.D., MT-BC, LCAT, DIR-C Associate…

  • Good News

    “The Evolution of a Music Therapist” by Kimber Batzel

    Once again, Back Mountain Music Therapy is taking to the internet. The business has been busy and is looking to update. The owner (myself, Antoinette Morrison) has been busy working in schools, seeing private clientele, supervising at Marywood University and mentoring interns that have completed their academic work and are doing their mandatory internship hours before they can sit for their Board Certification exam. My current intern, Kimber Batzel, had an interview assignment for one of her therapy classes and asked to interview me. I kept this paper and thought I would use it on my blog. It is in some ways of a brief biography on myself and Music…

  • Good News

    Allowing Clients to Wander

    As business has been expanding and the academic year is well established, an issue that is initially hard for students to understand in a productivity-oriented society, is allowing clients to “wander” in therapy.  There have been times my students have referred to this as clients “being bored”.  My reply is:  “Perhaps, but this is a necessary part of the therapy process.” Often, even our most well-behaved and compliant clients need to wander.  They have learned well to robotically do what they have been instructed to do. On the other hand, our “behavioral clients” have learned that to retain any of their uniqueness,  they must behave in a way contrary to what…

  • Good News

    Welcome

    Welcome to the exciting re-opening of backmountainmusictherapy.com!  As you can see, I have not completely figured out the new website builder yet, however, I will be taking a new class to learn the intricacies of blogging/website building! Please feel free to click any of the links above for information regarding music therapy.

  • Good News

    Attention, Attention! Updates to BMMT Website

    Dear Readers, We are pleased to announce the first of our new changes and additions to Back Mountain Music Therapy. The first is our new email contact address: Antoinette.Morrison@BackMountainMusicTherapy.com.  Additionally, we will be soon adding new profile pages to our website including new additions to our team.. Back Mountain Music Therapy is growing and we want to thank all our faithful followers who have stayed patiently with us through this process! Please feel free to contact us at out new address to find out more!

  • Good News

    Resistance and the ‘Why’ Propelling It

    This week, I had to catch up on a couple of weeks’ worth of notes (not my typical routine) for one of my clients, an adult with intellectual disabilities. Fortunately, I had been video-recording his sessions and could replay them back. I have a little break right now in-between contracts, and it was a rainy day at home anyway. The nice things about watching a recording of a session later is that one really gets the time to process everything. This particular client goes through growth cycles. At the start of each cycle, there is a tremendous amount of resistance. By the end of the cycle, he demonstrates the most…

  • Good News

    The Importance of Rhythm in Life and Development

    I have been working with a client who whose parents called me to inform me of his needs: he was unable to concentrate well or make any close friends or belong to any groups despite a friendly disposition. When the boy came to see me, I could tell he was a very friendly, outgoing, happy boy. However, although he spoke in complete sentences, I had difficulty understanding him because his speech was so rapid and unclear. At his first session, he came in and began to explore my instruments. He enjoyed making music with me and stayed connected to the rhythm, but was totally unable to synchronize with the beat.…

  • Good News

    Pause Before the Climb

    Hello once again to those of you who have been patient and persistent enough not to unsubscribe me from your mailbox despite my long silence. The Marywood Music Therapy Department has continued to grow and amidst its growth, it’s wonderfully progressive Music Therapy Director, Dr. Anita Gadberry, has moved on to University of North Dakota. Such a loss for the Music Therapy students and faculty, but what a gain for UND! I have truly enjoyed working with such an empowering professional. The loss for me is heartfelt, but as the door closes, I am waiting to see what a new open window will bring. Also amidst the ongoing changes, Summit…

  • Good News

    The Process, Having a Keen Eye

    Hello to all my faithful readers!  It has been almost a year since my last blog writing and reflecting on the many months, I thought that this was the most appropriate subject to come back with. Last fall, an unexpected job opened up which I applied for and subsequently filled as Coordinator and Supervisor of the Music Therapy clinic at Marywood University.  Literally the same week that I got the job, a couple other contract jobs that I hadn’t expected nor went looking for also came looking for Back Mountain Music Therapy.  Being a small business and because all of this was unexpected nor planned for, major readjustments needed to…

  • Good News

    The Importance of Clear and Specific Documentation

          Sometimes we need to be patient with ourselves and then extend this virtue to our clientele in order for progress to develop. In the midst of this, our documentation and education of those we work with and their families needs to be very specific and clear. If everyone has a clear expectation, not only does progress occur more quickly and clearly, but this also lessens frustration and bewilderment. It is difficult with goals, dates, funding, and state or facility requirements to do this, but it is needed. In order to encourage consistent progress we either need to be able to document, explain, or break steps down in…

  • Good News

    Do You Have to Go Back to Work Now?

      Previously, I have focused my writings on actually enjoying what one does and how important that is in therapy. This week I thought I would go back to one of my own daily stories about this. I very recently began a new summer contract with preschool children with special needs. I knew before arriving that this age and population would be fun and familiar. I had so much fun that I took up twice the amount of time I was originally supposed to and had no idea until I went back to my car. I was completely in the moment, the kids were very attentive, and the staff enjoyed…

  • Good News

    The “Just Right Challenge” and Building Trust

    In last week’s blog, I wrote about the importance of active participation. When an individual is actively participating in an activity, something that is done by their choosing, and is motivated, not only is their enthusiasm and focus increased, but also their motivation and control. An individual will continue to engage in this way if the activity challenges them just enough. What is just enough is that it is challenge that is intriguing and do-able, but yet a step up from what they have previously done. When an individual experiences success in challenge, the cycle of intrigue, engagement, and focus continues. Whether this challenge occurs with a group of others…

  • Good News

    The Importance of “Active Participation”, “Whistle While You Work”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE1LsYATBRY   Last week I spoke about the significance of intrinsic motivation. This is important not just for children on the spectrum, but for all. This week, I would like to write about the significance of “active participation.”  Lets begin with a definition of “active participation.” When I looked up the definition, this is what I found: the involvement, either by an individual or a group of individuals, in their own governance or other activities, with the purpose of exerting influence. (Source: RHW http://www.eionet.europa.eu/gemet/2004/06/concept?langcode=en&cp=77&ns=1)  One can watch a child do the same activity under different circumstances, and each one is not active participation. For instance, if a child is promised…

  • Good News

    Why Intrinsic Motivation is Important?

      I think on an intuitive level, all can agree on the importance of an activity being intrinsically motivating. But why, why is it important? To begin, we all know, that it is almost effortless to engage in an activity that we truly enjoy. We seek out those activities, healthy activities, that we are good at, that make us feel good, .When we actively participate in a purposeful activity that we are inwardly driven to do, we are in control,, we are clear and able to translate information.. We are then able to adapt, or meet the new needs of a particular project. When we are successful at what we…

  • Good News

    Connecting the Dots

      I recently read a post on differing approaches to working with autism that is not exposed to parents and caretakers. As I commented on the post, it got me thinking about the fact that autism, like anything else in a family, affects the whole family.  Autism by its nature not only isolates the child, but also many times the family. Although the last statistic I read stated one in every 68 children would be diagnosed with autism, I am not seeing the social acceptance and understanding that you would think a ratio like that would bring. The absolute worst issue I see with this is that families are not…

  • Good News

    Using What Already Exists to Facilitate Growth and Development

      I spotted an article written by another Music Therapist entitled “Music Therapists Do It Differently,” by Rachel Norman (http://soundscapemusictherapy.com/2013/10/14/music-therapists-do-it-differently/ )  The article is about how when walking by a Music Therapy room it may only look like people are having fun, playing, or singing along with the music, but there is much more going on than meets the eye. Sometimes I think that because of the years and hours we have spent in school learning things we did not know, we forget we had to have something first, a basis, to be able to learn what was set out to be taught. It seems to me that many people,…

  • Good News

    Change Through Music

      This week, Music Therapy once again exhilarated and moved me. However, this week I was only the observer, not the one conducting the session. I remembered being a college student and going away to the regional Music Therapy conferences, and for a few days, being away from the academic responsibilities, not yet being a Music Therapist, and listening to the stories and information of those who were doing the work. I left feeling excited to get back to school so that one day I could be doing this also too. This week, as a professional, I observed a college student working. The student was working with teens. At the…

  • Good News

    Moving Rhythm Forward at an Appropriate Rate

      There are several elements of music that Music Therapists employ in order to meet and accompany our clients in movement forward. This week, the element of rhythm and its importance in forward movement seemed to be a theme for my week.  All of life happens in a rhythm, appropriate for the situation: night to day, season to season, and even in our own heartbeats  and daily living patterns. When there is little consistency in rhythm or the rhythm is not appropriate for the situation, that is usually when healthy movement forward is stalled and stability is uncertain.  Let me use the example of a crying baby. Usually, the first…

  • Good News

    Music and Autism: Are They Relate-able, Part II

        As the little boy continues the game of “I want blue truck,” and rolls the truck as the therapist puts both parts to a tune, the little boy quickens the process to see if the therapist will continue to follow him and giggles. “She is still playing with me!” He has initiated an activity in order to receive a predicted response and is having fun. However, the game, if not watched carefully, could turn into a repetitive cycle that continues into self-absorption. The therapist recalled how the boy acquired his language in Music Therapy. As the boy grabbed a new car, the therapist would say, “**Boy’s name** has…

  • Good News

    Music and Autism: Are They Relate-able?

    Does music help a child relate to others? How can music help us relate to others?  I noticed an article by Oliver Sacks this week that was very relevant to my thoughts on the subject. The article “The Musical Brain: Novel Study of Jazz Players Shows Common Brain Circuitry Process in Both Music, Language” essentially talks about the brain and the back and forth spontaneous conversation that goes on between jazz players as they participate  in “trading fours.” “The musicians introduce new melodies in response to each others musical ideas, elaborating and modifying them over the course of a performance.”     I have written before about speech and Music Therapy; however,…

  • Good News

    Is It What Music Helps Us To Let Go Of??

      Last week, after writing my blog, I asked my son to edit it before he left for school. He said, “Sure, but would you get my guitar first?” I thought he was going to take it to school, so I asked if he needed his case. He replied, “No, I need it so I don’t freak out.” Now, those of you who have read my blog through LinkedIn and have seen my recent typing mistakes can sympathize with him. Now as chief cook and dish washer here, I have difficulty sympathizing, but freely admit to the difficulty. However, he reminded me of my other topic on my mind. Both of…

  • Good News

    Intrinsically Motivating Experience

      Imagine a world where we asked our kids to do something and they did it right away, happily and without reserve or complaint. As parents, teachers or other authority figures, there are days where one may wonder, is this even possible? Is it possible that kids can move forward and take care of responsibility independently because they want to at any age throughout childhood or teenage years?  It is possible that it is worth it to the kids? How do we get challenge or responsibility to be worth it, to be intrinsically motivating enough to the individual to take care of self growth and responsibility without a nagging, constant…

  • Good News

    Obvious or Subtle Progress?

    I  was talking with a college this week about client progress and how sometimes what is visible to onlookers is instantly and so radically different than what is typically portrayed by a client, and at other times, progress is happening more internally and one has to look closer at finer details (body posture, intensity of eye contact, etc). Then, when looking back in time, where the client was and where they are now shows a clear march of progress. These often are the times when those who are unfamiliar with Music Therapy need a little more information from the therapist as to what is happening in the session. One of…

  • Good News

    Emotions Unleashed?

    Sometimes, in therapy, there is a display of unpleasant emotions. Sometimes this is exactly what is needed, and other times this could have been handled differently, so that processing of the events happening could have been understood or much needed connections made. When therapy is new, yet inexperienced situation, especially with smaller children, crying and tantruming can happen because of the uncertainty. At those times, it is the priority of the therapist to make the situation as comfortable as possible. This may take some time with certain children. The beginning of therapy is not the time to push discomfort because there is not yet a safety zone for the child.…

  • Good News

    Listening First

    As a Music therapist, I believe one of the most important skills one needs is to be a very good listener. And when we are done listening, we need to listen some more, at a deeper level. What do I mean by this? Let me give a couple of examples. One time, while working with a group of young teen boys with emotional difficulties, one of the boys came in that morning. He apparently had been having a difficult day. He came in displaying impulsive behavior, then immediately began doing what he was asked for a few seconds, then impulsive behavior again. This was not typical for the boy. The…

  • Good News

    Music Therapy, Accompaniment

      This year’s theme for the American Music Therapy Associations Social Media Advocacy month is   This year’s theme is “We are . . . ”  centering on exploring and honoring our identity as music therapists and as a distinct and stand-alone profession, unique from other professions and professionals with which we work.  At my studio, since coming back from the holidays, we still are not in full swing due to weather and flu season.  However, college classes have begun and the Music Therapy clinicals which I supervise began this week. Last week, when the students visited their clinical sites, one of the sites, a geriatric facility, showed the students a…

  • Good News

    “We are…MUSIC THERAPISTS!”

    Hello once again to the readers of Back Mountain Music Therapy’s Newsletter!  I had taken some time for the holidays to spend with friends and family and then get organized to work again.  The AMTA  (American Association of Music Therapy) has begun their yearly “Social Media Advocacy Month” of which I am proud to participate in.  This year’s theme is “We are . . . ” and will center on exploring and honoring our identity as music therapists and as a distinct and stand-alone profession, unique from other professions and professionals with which we work. My first post of the near year will be a guest post by another very…

  • Good News

    Music and Social-Ability

      Often this time of year, if you go to a Christmas party there is music playing in the background to enhance the mood. If you go to a concert, there are two parts: the audience and the performers. Although most everyone’s focus is the same, depending on the concert types, there are performers playing, singing, and/or dancing, and the audience who may sing and dance along, or possibly only do that in their head (different protocol for different types of concerts). Lastly, there are the family or community get-together where all participate at whatever their level of musicality is. I have been working with a small group of children…

  • Good News

    School, Cognitive Skill, and Relatability

      I do not know if many other Music Therapists share this dilemma with me, but often when I see a client or child that is referred for a particular reason and time goes by and the need becomes met, when the client continues to have needs that are not as flashing red-light obvious, I begin to feel a little lost. What also tends to happen is that as the client tends to mature, so of course does his musical interests and needs. By that I do not mean more age-appropriate music, but rather a new developed way of using music to continue to meet more mature needs. The client,…

  • Good News

    More on Mirror Neurons

      After the Thanksgiving feast with friends and family and then our annual Black Friday shop-til-you-drop marathon, Saturday was time to get back to work. I was reading some fascinating comments after the last mirror neuron blog and some suggested articles from faithful readers when my first client arrived. With mirror neurons fresh on my mind, I worked with a non-verbal deaf 5-year-old with global delays. As she sat in the doll-sized rocking chair holding onto a cymbal with one hand and a drum with the other as I played the piano, sang, and beat both percussive instruments alternately, I watched her intensity of focus and “listening” as she quietly…

  • Good News

    Music, Speech and Mirror Neurons

      This week as I worked with my client, who was a victim of a brain injury, I was struck by the intensity of her watchfulness as we sang a children’s tune together, pronouncing letter sounds. When I see this client start to fade the specific mouth movements in singing words, I employ this song. Firstly, it is a children’s tune, an early embedded memory. The tune is well-known, predictable, and an old memory (embedded early on). It is also very repetitive,predictable. and gives several chances to see, hear, and pronounce the letter sounds. My client is motivated by its familiarity, pulled by its constant rhythm, and has several chances…

  • Good News

    Music Therapy, What does it Look Like and How Does it Work?

      In my area, Music Therapy is a service that is not well-known.  Often, people who have not previously heard of Music Therapy hear that I am a Music Therapist and ask “So, what do you do? Play music to them?” (My clients).   I think we are so accustomed to teaching methods that something other than that such as facilitating is hard to conceptualize. Because music is structure over time, what one may see in my therapy room is not what some people may expect.  It certainly does not look like a classroom scenario.  In fact, upon walking by, glancing in, it may look unstructured or chaotic.  A  child may…

  • Good News

    Being Aware of What is Inside

      Recently, my family got a dog from the SPCA. I began to think, a therapy dog might a nice compliment to my therapy business. I decided to take my new dog, Charlie, to a trainer. Upon arrival, the trainer told me he was going to teach me about how I conduct myself with the dog (not teach the dog) so that the dog  learns how to behave appropriately. As I was working at a facility this week, I was reminded of this. I had a very high-functioning young girl who previously and frequently had meltdowns just coming in to Music Therapy. There have been some changes at the facility,…

  • Good News

    Avenues of Hope and Health

    http://phdinspecialeducation.com/groups-activities/ This week I was thrilled to hear from Sarah Paulson, who notified me that Back Mountain Music Therapy would be featured in PhDinSpecialEducation.com. I was excited about the exposure of my business, but also grateful to be classified along with other businesses associated with the well-being of those in need of special education. It seems to me that quite often a child is given a label and the first lines of treatment include medication and/or a behavioral program to help those with special needs. People with special needs are just that: individuals with special needs, differing somewhat from what we typically see. Special needs individuals are individuals, not labeled…

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    Jumping In

      Recently, I have had clients make progress in the area of verbally relating to others. The two cases were completely different sets of circumstances, but both clients were headed towards similar areas of health. How is this possible? Most everything in life happens step-by-step. Most every change that we make ourselves in life that lasts happens over a continuum, whether it is a behavior, a relationship, or a skill. We can simply “dog train” a skill by repeating a process over and over again with external consequences and rewards until it becomes a knee-jerk reactive unthinking action. A reaction, however, does not work well in developing a relationship, a…

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    Music Therapy – In Relationship

        Last week I wrote about “The Jack in the Box Effect.”  (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2013/10/music-play-recipe-to-override-developmental-delays/).   This demonstrates how infants learn about the world and how to react to it by watching their mothers.  The blog talked about 93% of communication being non verbal and only 7% being verbal. Usually, when engaged in my Music Therapy sessions, my attention is on my client, where they are, what they are doing, and how to engage and mirror in a way that will facilitate movement toward a more healthy way of being.  However, this week while watching my adult client with difficulties due to a brain injury, I noticed something I don’t usually…

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    Music + Play = Recipe to Override Developmental Delays

      This weekend I attended a conference entitled “Considering Musical Dimensions in Relationship-Based Work” at Molloy College. All of what was presented there was relevant to all of my work and very timely for this portion of my blog on play, particularly the evidence presented by non-musical clinical developmental psychologist Dr. Gerry Costa from Montclair  University. In the presentation, he said, “the musicality of the infant-parent relationship and the foundational experiences needed for mental health and peaceful societies.” Stanley Greenspan stated, “affect is the orchestra leader of all developmental areas.” What comprises affect? How do infants learn about the world? Infants learn about the world in relationship, through the back…

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    To”Play” Music: A Literal Phrase

      The best part about play is that there is no right or wrong way. Sometimes aid or assistance try to help by saying things like, “You were supposed to…”, but play is devoid of perfection. This means anyone can do it and it is all okay. This week, as the group of musically untrained emotionally unstable boys joined in the pulse with the instrument of their choice, each got a chance to be the “arranger.” This meant that when it was his turn, he could distribute and organize the instrumentation to whomever and however they wished. When the tune began, the kids were just allowed to play. Organization of…

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    Playing, Freeing the Mind, and Being Oneself

        This week, even the typically developing teens with whom I work demonstrated they’re very best through play. Their up and down turbulence took a detour but stayed on a path with direction. These teens did so freely, together, and when they were done were able to recognize their own accomplishments through their play. I think our biggest obstacle to accomplishment is often our own critical minds. Music helps us to take a detour, forget for a while, and de-clutter the fog that the critical mind creates. This week, while working with a group of teen boys who often set one another off in such a manner as the…

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    First Words Through Play

        The boy is now more motivated than ever. The structure of the predictable repeated tune holds his attention as he sees what else HE can do with it. Now his attention to the world around him absorbs him. There is a need or him to be heard. Over time, the boy begins pointing adamantly, as if to say “This one, I want this! See that one, do you see?” Now there are decisions to be made. Choices to attend to. How does he get people to listen? As the music continues, the assistant follows the boy’s pointing. However, at times the assistant is not able to discern what…

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    To Play: The Process and Progress

    Play is literally defined as “without seriousness, to take part or engage in a game” (dictionary.com), the operative phrase being “to take part or engage.” When an unstructured 2 or 3-year-old enters the Music Therapy room with no direction and wanders from thing to thing, moving about like a whirlwind, leaves behind a path of chaos and is not engaged in any form of curiosity or play, the therapist develops a simple tune with a basic beat, following the little boy’s movements. Within the next two sessions, she notices that the basic beat no longer coincides with the child’s behavior but instead its strength and inviting beat coincide with the…

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    Play, Imagination, and Critical Thinking

    Currently, in most academic fields with young children, the emphasis on “academics” has increased. It is a very good thing that we can now see the capabilities of very young children and can begin when a child is young with the right approach to point a lifetime attitude towards learning into a much more positive one. However, the downside is that sometimes there is an over-emphasis on only the academics and a de-emphasis on play. When academics and play are combined, the results are positive, engaging, amazing, and lifelong. Why is play so important? First, the playful approach using music, results in attentiveness, and the loss of a critiquing mind…

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    Responsibility and Freedom Look a lot Like Sensory Integration

        My kids grew up on the phrase “Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand.” Throughout their teen years, they probably heard this more than they cared to. It was a great measure for me when it came to decisions of “Should I let them do this, should I give them money for that, or should I say no this time?” What were they doing currently and how are they already responsible for this? There is no hard and fast rulebook for this either. It is individualized. What can this teen do? What does this teen need? How do certain leisure activities support a need? I think well-functioning sensory…

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    The Missing Developmental Milestones, the Ability to Self-Regulate and … Wait

        I was talking with my teenage daughter this week as she had just finishing purchasing a purse that she bidded on on ebay.  As she was excitedly reflecting, I said to her “You know what is fun when you order on line? Waiting for it to come.”   She said excitedly, “I love to wait – it was so much fun waiting to go to the beach last week.” As I have recently began working with children under three, I have noticed that it is much easier to track and note development if you can find several areas of need that may feed the most obvious need.  Each week,…

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    Going Through to the Other Side

      Most all the time the clients that come to my studio are excited to come, smiling as they enter, and often run down the hallway to the Music Therapy room. I like the facilitation of development to occur naturally, unstressed, and to flow ahead. However, there are times whens smiling, excited faces don’t happen, when there is crying and anger. As unpleasant as these emotions may seem, they can be as healthy and beneficial in the therapy as the prior emotions. It is not unusual when I work with nonverbal children that when understanding and communication begin, there is not yet enough to satiate the desire to be specific,…

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    Validating Through Music – Part 3

      Sometimes part of the process of helping a child progress is validating that they are okay right where they are presently, even though where they are may be seen by statistics, norms, or by others as below the bar.  Sometimes a child that hugs the safety of the known needs a little nudging.  Other times, a child does not yet have all he or she needs to be “there” yet.  Where he is is fine for now.  This week the little boy who recently turned three, originally diagnosed with speech delay then changed to autism, came to Music Therapy.  We tried having his sessions with just him and myself.…

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    Validating Through Music: Part 2

      Last week’s example of validating through music is vastly different from this week’s. Last week, validation was done at a sensory level, where that child is presently. This week’s examples are initially made at verbal, cognitive, and emotional levels, backed up and made more alive through music. In working with a group of performing teens, all with their own unique needs, the eldest in the group and the newest member has the least security in the group. The group has functioned together weekly for many years. Each member has his or her own strengths which are utilized in a leadership fashion. These strengths are then supported by the rest…

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    3 Part Series: Validating a Child through Music

      I recently read an article by Southeast Psych entitled “Verbally Validate to Help Kids Manage Their Emotions” (http://blog.southeastpsych.com/?p=5001) which made me think, “Wow, We do that on a regular basis at a very deep level, which goes beyond words in music.” If one were to make a generalized slice through the brain, and generalized it from the outer brain to the inner brain, the outer brain, the neocortex (http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html?source=facebook#.UeqN_eKrVAZ.facebook) is responsible for a more formalized language and analytical and rational thinking. However, the limbic brain is responsible for our feelings, behavior, and our instinctual abilities. This is also where our decisions are made. No lingual thinking happens here.  When…

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    Musical Responsiveness: Planting the Seed, Watching It Grow

        I have been asked a few times “Yes, but do they (my clients) carry that (progress) outside the music room?” Sometimes, especially now that I have a private practice and contracted jobs where I don’t spend a lot of time in the facility, I only see what happens in the Music Therapy room, although I see the regular documented progress. Sometimes I do not realize the impact outside the Music Therapy room until it is reported back to me. I think the reason for this is the process orientation, responding in the here and now, moment to moment to music. Ironically, this, it seems to me, is what…

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    The Grumpy Guitar

    This is a true story. As I discussed this situation, I thought immediately that I should be writing this down. I have a young adult client named TJ. I also have an old guitar in my studio. I’m not exactly sure where it came from, probably a relative whose attic needed cleaning. I took the nearly useless guitar, thinking that even if I couldn’t use it (which I thought I probably could) as something that could take a beating, I would utilize it as a wall decoration. It was missing the bridge, and after I re-glued the bottom and a crack in the body, I asked my son to restring…

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    Brain Plasticity – The Means to Re-purpose Skills

        Brace yourself: the floodgates of my frustration have been opened today. Last week, I talked about giving processing time: giving time, not a recent societal norm. In the area in which I reside, it appears to me that change is not only not a societal norm, but any attempt to try is met with my favorite display of intelligence (please excuse my sarcasm), “Why would we do it that way? We’ve done it this way for thirty years!, or, “I’ve been teaching this way for thirty years!” There is conformity and a great amount of grounding in routine. However, when routine becomes the only way after so long,…

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    Processing – The Space Between the Notes

      Unfortunately, without machines there is no scientific way of measuring processing, at least not that I  know of. We have to use our own human observance skills and become familiar with the signs. It is most definitely the space between the notes; unseen, unheard movement forward. It is a little bit like when you know someone well enough and you can see by their facial expression, their posture, their eyes, and their movements that something is wrong, even though they do not say so. I have become fairly well-adept at being able to identify when processing is occurring in most of my clients. It is almost always a period…

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    Music Helping to Make Sense of Sound

        This was a very hectic week, with many cancellations and rescheduling of appointments due to Memorial Day, Baccalaureate Mass, graduation, state volleyball playoffs, and an elementary school fire. In the middle of the week, I began to think about what I was going to write about for this blog. I wasn’t even sure what day it was! Towards the end of the week, I got a text from a parent of a nonverbal client stating, ” ‘Josh’ was watching Madagascar 3 and there was a girl singing in French. ‘Josh’ is singing along with it!” “Josh” and I have been working on producing vowel and consonant sounds with…

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    If Parents Were Approached and Children Were Labeled by Their Abilities, Would Learning Be Easier?

        My off-the-cuff “Hip Hip Hooray” motif this week was an eye-opener for me. The three-year-old autistic client’s mother told me that never before had they gotten him to wave his hands in the air like that. That was not my intention, nor was it a need of which I was aware. I was simply keeping the little guy motivated and excited about what he was doing. As I repeated this “Hip Hip Hooray” motif after each spongy letter he pushed back into its spot in the puzzle, the initially poor fine motor skills quickened to get the letter back in so much that I had trouble fitting in…

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    Parents, Professionals, and Diagnoses

        My last article was a little reflection on my own daughter and music, my gifts, and “my wish.” In my conversations in recent weeks with parents of clients, I wanted to write a little on professional dealings with parents. Last week, you got a glimpse of one of the “twinkles in my eye.” In conversations with parents, we must remember each child is the “twinkle” in each parents’ eye. Parents often begin the process knowing something is not quite right. Giving a name or a label answers the question and can be a starting point in a better direction, but may also be a point of plummeting devastation…

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    “My Wish”

        My sincere apologies to all my faithful subscribers, until recently, I have put out a newsletter weekly. I  have acquired some new work and have two children graduating this year, which has required my presence at many different functions. In light of that fact, I thought I would give you a glimpse of how music functions in our family. This week, as I sat working, my daughter needed to use my computer and had an assignment to write. “Give a tittle of a song, and what that songs means to you; Here is what she wrote:       As some of you may know, my mom is a music…

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    Avoidance vs. Seeing it Through

          When a child, or for that matter, an adult, devises an unhealthy or negative behavior and utilizes it to get what they think they want or gain control, what do we do? What happens afterward? What is the end result? First we have to know what it is that the child really wants. If we give what they claim they want to them, is it helping them to function better now AND later? For example, if a child cries because someone else gets the lollipop that he or she wants, if we give the lollipop to her, it is true that the crying may stop. Is that…

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    Opening Up Lines of Communication: Relate Instead of Correct

          Often those on the autism spectrum present behaviors which may seem odd, antisocial, or nonsensical to us. In order to help these individuals, the well-meaning urge for many to correct these behaviors comes to the forefront. Today I would like to delve slightly deeper into why correcting these behaviors instead of accepting and relating to them may be a mistake. We know that children on the spectrum have sensory integration difficulties, and therefore, perceive the world very differently. This thought is a key component to this conversation. Our perceptions ignite our opinions, our interests, our choices, and ultimately our behavior. Judging a child’s unusual choices of behavior…

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    Asking Why And Honoring All That One Can Give

      I have written many articles on subjects such as developing children’s strengths  https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2013/03/the-amazing-power-of-building-on-a-childs-strength/  , achieving regulation,   https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/11/part-4-achieving-self-regulation/ ,  significance in an individual’s development    https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/04/recognizing-development-and-its-significance-in-each-individual/ , and sensory integration  https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2011/11/sensory-integration-meeting-the-need/   .  On a day-to-day basis in my professional work, I have frequently been complimented on the degree of patience others have noticed.  Most times, I truly have not felt like I was being patient.  I think that if I were to take all these categories and boil them down to two ingredients that make all this possible, it would be asking why and honoring what an individual does give. Whether I am interacting or working with children on the spectrum, those…

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    The Amazing Power of Building on a Child’s Strength

          As I reflected on my busy and varied week, working with kids of all ages, I stopped to think what theme pervaded my week. The children displayed many strengths, but often, as adults, we don’t look beyond the tip of the iceberg, and just see them disguised as weaknesses. Why do we do that? I thought of the near-teen boys in the group of 30 or so kids with which I work who are always throwing out silly comments from the back of the group.  That silliness, capitalized upon, encouraged genuine leadership. The boys led the others in song- yes, song! These typical pre-teens were singing in…

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    Play and Shutting Down the Critical-Thinking Mind through Music

          In observing some of my newer clients and reflecting on some of my older clients this week, I saw the importance of coming in the back door, or shutting off the critically thinking mind, even in adults. This is when some productive, and more importantly, more permanent learning can evolve. Don’t get me wrong; there is a need for that critical thinking mind, but today I would like to focus on play and shutting the critical mind down. I watched two new clients this week, the first a little non-verbal autistic boy whose attention was instantly grabbed by only the physical piano. Before the session began ,he…

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    Rhythm as a Healing Element

          Last week I talked about rhythm – the most basic element of music – and how we are born to live rhythmically. We are born with a basic beat, a heartbeat, and live our lives at regular intervals, minute to minute, hour by hour, day and night, month to month, year to year. Rhythm sets us up to predict: we pretty much know what comes after 1, 2, 3, _. But what happens, although we continue to have a heartbeat day and night and year to year, when we live our lives with unpredictability? What if we go to school and come home at the same time…

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    Rhythm: The Element of Movement

        After taking a coarse from Christine Stevens entitled “Music Medicine”, one of the concepts brought up in her coarse specifically, I had begun to look at , ignited reflection on the work I do, the concept of rhythm. Rhythm- the measurement of pulse, a regular scheduled timing of continuous sound and silence, movement and rest. Rhythm, the element that contains its players and grounds and supports them. It is the glue that holds the group together, while simultaneously moving them together. We start out life with a heartbeat, a regular pulse. Everything else develops from there and is grounded and supported by our own heartbeat. The wonderful thing…

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    The Importance of the “Rest”

        Recently, I have been concerned with my client “Frankie.” Concerned because I haven’t been seeing outward growth behavior demonstrated. “Frankie” is so intensely connected to the music that after sixty minutes, when I put the guitar away, he runs screeching because it is being put down. I see progress, then often no outward demonstrating behaviors, quiet, and stillness- yet intense listening and connectedness. I even warn parents, especially, when I hear pop-out words often – then silence. This happens frequently. A child needs time to process, so we have to wait and see what happens next. This is the part that makes me question myself often, although it…

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    The Benefits of Drumming

          The wonderful thing about a drum is that there are no wrong notes. This makes playing successful to anyone who tries it. Who would ever think that giving some drums to a small group of chaotic, unfocused, hyper children could actually pull their attention together and help increase their social skills. Knowing that children automatically speed up and automatically want to bang away as soon as they get the drums, stir some doubts. But with careful management, the magnetic pull of a good beat pulls our brains in its direction. Watch a classroom move in sync as a good beat is pumped into the room. Most all…

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    Music and Visuals, A Key to Success with Speech Difficulties

        Think about it. What happens if I sing “A, B, C, D, E, F… ?’ What do you do in your head if I play seven notes of a scale ” Do, Re, Mi, Fa, So, La, Ti… ,” and I leave out the last note? Do you not fill it in in your head? What happens when you hear a significant song from your teen years? Do you go back in time in your memory to either a particular event, time, or emotion? Everyone who works with children with speech and language difficulties knows to use visuals, visuals, visuals, Yes, they certainly help. Using another sense helps…

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    Why I Love Music Therapy

        Many things happened on this quiet snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. My husband left for work, and my oldest son for college.  My younger son was still sleeping, not yet starting his schedule of activities, and my daughter at an overnight. I had the choice today to start out and go to my first session, or wait until four o’clock, our scheduled time. I decided to start my day with the session.  I went to the house of two autistic brothers. Upon arrival, I climbed the steps to their “room,” which is a fairly large empty one with three swings hanging from the ceiling. Being a Cape…

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    Guest Post: How Music Can Be Therapeutic To Kids With Special Needs

    Music Therapy Advocacy month has arrived! As part of this community this weeks post is written by guest blogger Naomi Esterely.  Naomi Esterly is a stay-at-home mom to two rambunctious, yet adorable, little boys and a newborn baby girl.  In her spare time she balances writing freelance for 1800Wheelchair.Com and coaching her community’s little league. As society has evolved, so have our abilities and know-how when it comes to special-needs children. Years ago, children with special needs were completely misunderstood and almost completely seen as a burden and shame. Medically, these children were hurt more than helped in many cases. Today things are much different. Families no longer live in…

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    Music Therapy Advocacy Month, Changing A Life

          Introduction: Advocacy –> Recognition –> Access Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists have collaborated on a State Recognition Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this plan is to get music therapy and our MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can  more easily access our services. The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date, their work has resulted in over 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011,1 licensure bill passed in…

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    Speech Series – Part 5 Word Retrieval and Auditory Processing Difficulties

    In this last part of the speech series, I decided to write about using Music Therapy in word retrieval problems, something I am finding myself running across frequently lately.  This is for the children who already have some controlled speech.  Some of the children can speak in one to three word sentences, but not at all fluently or when upset. Because the emotion is too overwhelming, they cannot retrieve the words they already have.  In these cases, the lack of fluency is serious because it takes so long and so much work to get the words they want that in an emergency, there are no words to grab quick enough. …

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    Speech Series Part 4;Signs That Speech is Possible

        How do you know wen expressive language (speech) is too far off of a goal? I do not believe that when after a child can point, that is when they are motivated to speak. None of the young people I have worked with have ever reacted by gesturing, pointing, or signing first when at the extreme of emotions (fright frustration, happiness). It is always sound that comes out, and sometimes unexpected language. This  blog was one that was hard to know quite where to start. Kids with neurological difficulties and developmental delays so often come in anywhere on the language spectrum. Some of the children whom I had…

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    Part 3: Eliciting Speech

    Back to my mantra: watch the child. Let the child direct and the therapist/parent/teacher support. Even if they child is not giving sound, one can support movement or even breathing with sound. Repeated sound, as I had spoken about in the previous blog (https://backmountainmusictherapy.com/2012/12/where-to-start-control-of-oral-movements/), sometimes gives structure to a child’s irrelevant, chaotic, seemingly impulsive behavior. Structure is a pathway to purpose. When we speak of music as being a sensory experience (concerning the autistic population), I think most people’s first thought is “hearing.” I personally find that most of my autistic individuals initially connect with the sound, but learn and make sense from the vibrations of sound. This may initially…

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    5 Part Series – Music and Speech

    Why does music make speech so accessible? Why are there so many stories about nonverbal clients (aphasic, apraxic, stroke victims, autistic, etc.) singing when they can’t speak a word? Why is Music Therapy so valuable to those who have difficulty with spoken language? Why is Music Therapy such a value to the autistic community? Although I am not a speech therapist, I see progress in speech more than any other area within the population with which I work. Some of the verbal reactions I witness in Music Therapy would be considered unbelievable by others. This has forced me to research science behind this. First, lets begin with what we all know.…

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    Part Five: Music Therapy, Bringing to Form Functional Skills

    Functional skill level is ready to begin after, after, after the client has achieved some organization and self-regulation ability. If we haven’t learned yet that trying to stop that “stimming” isn’t going too far, we better go back to the beginning. We have to do something about the need for the “stimming” first. My last blog in this series is a case study summary exemplifying this series; Music Therapy, from a Tentative to Functional Skill. I first started to see “Cameron” in an early intervention center. I remember noticing “Cameron” in the halls before seeing him in Music Therapy. He was a three-year-old, severely autistic boy who daily caught my…