Guitar Center presents: Women Who Rock!


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I am excited to announce that on Sunday, September 15th, I will be one of the guest speakers at Guitar Center’s “Women Who Rock” event in Roseville. It is a celebration of women in the music industry, and the different roles that we play as artists and professionals. I am so honored to be asked to present on my journey to becoming a music therapist, and I’m looking forward to sharing that experience with other women who are looking into careers in music.

It is an all-day event that features live bands, gear demos, a silent auction, workshops, and guest speakers. I am presenting at noon, but come early or stay late and check out some of the exciting opportunities that will be available. Click here for more information or directions to Guitar Center.

See you there rockstars!!


July news: It’s grant-writing month!


After a week of fun at Autism camp for Lyndie, and camping with the family for Andrea, we are ready to kick it into high gear and start brainstorming (and singing!) new ways to make music therapy more accessible to the community. Great news…the sunshine and good company have paid off! In an effort to continue advocating for music therapy and providing services for a variety of populations, we are devoting July to exploring and writing grants!

This month, Andrea and I will be focusing on grant opportunities for the upcoming year. This spring we had the privilege of receiving grants through Arts for Academic Achievement and the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. These funds allowed us to provide group music therapy in ESCE and MHC classrooms in the Minneapolis Public Schools, as well as developmental music classes during Ramsey County Library reading hours.

In addition to these larger grants, there are also waivers and grants through the county that can be used to cover ongoing, individual music therapy services. Examples could include Consumer Support Grants, Family Support Grants, Developmental Disability Waivers, Community Alternatives for Disabled Individuals Waiver, and Elderly Waivers. If you are interested in receiving a grant for an individual or group session, please leave us a comment and we will help locate and develop a plan for potential grant options with you!

Here is a link to the Minnesota Department of Human Services webpage with more information on grants and waivers!

MN Music Therapy Day on the Hill 2013

photo (3)For the past two years, I have had the privilege of meeting some of my Minnesota legislators with groups of my music therapy colleagues at Day on the Hill. The purpose of Day on the Hill is to educate legislators on what music therapy is and advocate for music therapy. In addition, we have specifically advocated for a music therapy licensure bill in the two years that I have been involved.


We’ve posted before on why music therapy advocacy is important and how to advocate here. In today’s post, I will focus on why we are seeking a music therapy licensure bill in Minnesota.

What is licensure, you may ask? The answer will differ by state. In Minnesota, licensure in Minn Stat. sec214.001 is defined as:

“a system whereby a practitioner must receive recognition by the state of having met predetermined qualifications, and persons not so licensed are prohibited from practicing. (Title and scope of practice restriction.)” 

Some of the legislators we met with wanted to know why licensure was necessary for music therapists since we already have a Certification Board for Music Therapists. There are several reasons why we want to see a music therapy licensure law passed in Minnesota. Below are a couple of the reasons.

1) Protection for Clients – Licensure would protect clients from treatment that may be potentially harmful to clients from individuals that misrepresent themselves as “music therapists” but are not board-certified music therapists (e.g. non-music therapy musician)

2) Access to Music Therapy Services – Some state agencies require providers to be state recognized. Licensure would provide the necessary state recognition for clients and families seeking access to music therapy services.

Licensure would also define music therapist’s scope of practice at the state level to prevent conflict or confusion with other practitioners.  Music therapy licensure does not mean that music therapists are claiming all use of music during sessions as our own. Rather, licensure will protect clients and allow for more access to music therapy services while increasing awareness of music therapy to clients and other allied health professionals.

This week, I have talked with several friends that said they knew someone who uses music therapy. Sounds great, right? However, in each case, the person that was using “music therapy” was not a music therapist. They may be using music as medicine or using music therapeutically, but playing a song on the piano or creating a playlist on an ipod alone is not music therapy!

Every time I hear these stories, I give this example: I can’t go around saying that I do physical therapy or that I am a physical therapist just because I lead movement to music as part of my music therapy sessions. Music therapists have training in music, psychology, anatomy, therapeutic skills, and group management. In order to be board-certified, we have to complete a 6 month internship and 1200+ hours of music therapy experience. We take a client from assessment, planning, treatment, progress notes, to termination while working on goals that are most relevant to the client’s quality of life.

We would like to thank Senator Rosen and Representative Dorholt, the chief authors in the Minnesota Senate and House, respectively for their work on the music therapy licensure bill.

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Left to Right: Music Therapists Kathy Nelson, Melissa Hirokawa, Claire Klein, and Representative Zachary Dorholt

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Left to Right: Music Therapists Andrea Yun-Springer, Melissa Hirokawa, MTAM President Peter Meyer with Senator Julie Rosen

We hope 2014 is the year that a music therapy licensure law will be passed in Minnesota. Until then, we will keep up our work in advocating for and educating on music therapy!

State of MN – Frequently Asked Questions About Licensure

Music Therapy Advocacy: {On the Daily}


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I was having coffee with a friend of mine last weekend who is a candidate in the Master’s of Social Work program at the U of M. She mentioned that last week in one of her classes the instructor brought in a documentary and talked about incorporating “music therapy” into social work practice. As in, the social work students could be using recorded music in sessions and calling it “music therapy”.

A student then asked the instructor, “So is music therapy an actual profession then, or what is it?”. No one had an answer in class and the instructor proceeded to say that she thought it was, but wasn’t sure about the training requirements, etc. That was it. No clarification, no google.

Unfortunately, I hear these stories myself or via friends and family all to often. In this instance, my friend was willing to give me her instructor’s contact information so I can pass on the definition of music therapy according to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

We’re lucky in MN to also have a great state organization and I can give this instructor a list of music therapists in MN that are in private practice as well. I know several music therapists that would offer at the drop of a hat to guest lecture on how music therapists and social workers can collaborate in various settings.

All of this reminded me once again that while we have social media music therapy advocacy month, it is also important to always be willing to educate in a positive way. Believe me, I do not usually feel like smiling when hosts on Minnesota Public Radio start throwing around the term “music therapy” when describing an iPod playlist. So, having a few bullet points that differentiate music therapy vs. music as therapy (like this great post by Metro Music Therapy!) in addition to the “elevator talk” version of what you do as a music therapist can help clarify and inform.

That said, I’m excited to advocate for music therapy tomorrow at MN Music Therapy Day on the Hill 2013! I’ll get to meet with a Senator and Representatives from my work and home districts to advocate for music therapy licensure in MN. I’ll save the reasons why we support music therapy licensure until our post on Day on the Hill later this week. Hope to see you back here then!

2013 Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month


Image via Groovy Garfoose

Do you advocate for music therapy? January is Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month and Toneworks Music Therapy is excited to share what we are and have been doing to advocate for music therapy! The Music Therapy Maven shares why advocacy is important for us as clinicians and for our clients. Here are a few ways that we advocate for music therapy!

1) The Little Things

Every time someone asks me “what do you do for a living?”, I take the opportunity and go into my “elevator speech” version of what music therapy is and what music therapy looks like. Usually people will respond with, “oh, I have a cousin who plays the piano for people at a nursing home too” or “are you going to play your violin/viola for me so I can feel happy?”.

I find that people understand more clearly what music therapy is when I explain that the results are not about the music. However, the music facilitates the physical, social/emotional, and cognitive changes that the music therapists assesses and plans for the client. In addition, specific examples that relate to the person I’m talking to (e.g. do they have a loved one that was in hospice or a child that is on the Autism Spectrum) and how music therapy would help in that specific situation helps people understand how music therapy works.

2) The Not-so-Little Things

In opening our private practice we have been giving in-services to many facilities and parent groups. In these presentations we have a powerpoint about what music therapy is and what credentials we have along with music therapy research that supports what we do in sessions. We usually have an experiential portion as well so parents can see what their children are capable of and how music can be used to get children to interact, move, and learn. We do not expect everyone to choose us as their music therapist and we get excited when parents ask us for music therapists in their area!

This Saturday, we are also excited to advocate for music therapy at a local health & fitness expo. We will be spreading the word how music therapy can be used for wellness and prevention, development in children and adults, and maintenance for older adults. We will have lots of examples of therapeutic music interventions, instruments, and AMTA fact sheets to help people understand how music therapy can have a positive effect on their lives.

3) The Big Things

Getting involved at the state level to participate in Day on the Hill to speak with legislators about licensure is one way of advocating for music therapy on a large scale. We are excited to participate in MN this spring for the Day on the Hill. Sharing personal stories of how we impact lives is an important part of advocacy. If you invite lawmakers to participate in music therapy social media advocacy month, even better! If you’re on twitter be sure to use #lovemusictherapy and #MTadvocacy when sharing during MT social media advocacy month.

These are just a few ways to advocate for music therapy in person and in social media. We are excited for the growth in our field and in awareness of what music therapy can do for clients during January. We are looking forward to posting client success stories during the month of January on our blog.

Happy advocating!