Word of the Week: COMMUNITY

The month of October has been particularly busy for The Music Therapy Center. At the end of week one during my internship here, I helped represent the company at a booth in the annual Autism Speaks Walk. Being a part of this event, in addition to other events throughout October, showed me the importance of community involvement.

Parents, professionals, and community members approached our booth at the Autism Speaks Walk. Through many friendly conversations, those of us manning the booth had the opportunity to reach out and lend a helping hand to parents who were looking for opportunities to improve the life of their child with Autism. We had a sign-up sheet to set up free screenings, and brochures with the different resources we provide.

The Music Therapy Center also recently started a new program called “Jam Sessions” in collaboration with an organization called Banding Together (click the link to see their website!). These sessions are an opportunity for adolescents with special needs to interact with their peers, make music, and have a great time. Each participant is paired with a “mentor”- who is there to help the individual sing and play instruments, and model appropriate social interaction. Prior to the first session, we had a training night for volunteers, where the internship directors gave a presentation on Autism and special needs, as well as music therapy. The first jam session was a blast- the room was filled with smiles and great music making. Not only is it a great opportunity to enrich the lives of adolescents with special needs, it was an awesome way to educate community members on the profession of music therapy and its countless benefits.

These are just two examples of MTCCA’s involvement in the community; there are many other events held by this company, and I can see the value that comes with each different event!


Word of the Week: DIVERSITY

Music therapy is very diverse in its clinical applications.  During my internship at the Music Therapy Center of California I have worked in individual and group settings.  The individuals and groups also have a variety of diagnoses such as Autism, Down syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Apraxia, Dysarthria, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, Stroke, and Traumatic Brain Injury.  The diverse client load lends itself to diverse approaches of using music to meet non-musical goals.

During internship I have focused on learning and applying neurologic music therapy.  Neurologic music therapy is evidence-based and focuses on using techniques that can be generalized into life situations.  Instead of seeing music therapy as black and


 white, neurologic music therapy allows for an addition of various “colors” or techniques to accomplish goals such as attention.  Within the goal for attention there are five different NMT techniques that breakdown what type of attention is being worked on: focused, selective, divided, alternating, and sustained.

– Hilary White

Word of the Week: METHOD

First of all, I’d like to introduce myself! My name Marjie Halverson, I’m the new intern at MTCCA, and will be alternating blogs with Hilary each week! I look forward to sharing my thoughts 🙂


This week’s word is Method. I could discuss the scientific method or the method section of research articles, but I’ve chosen a different route! The first definition of “method” on dictionary.com is “a procedure, technique, or way of doing something”.  I think it’s safe to say that everyone has a method to approaching something; for example- when I brush my teeth, I wet the toothbrush, put the toothpaste on it, brush my teeth, rinse the brush, then suck the water out of the brush to rinse my mouth. Now, what does this have to do with music therapy?

Music therapists are constantly changing their method and process to fit the goals of each client. Some clients may require more attention in a certain area, for example, I observed a session last week where a young client was upset and agitated at the beginning of a session. While the music therapist had a specific plan and procedure for that session, following it exactly as planned would not have worked well and may have agitated the client even more. So, the music therapist began to sing a gentle song to create a calming environment for the client. After a few minutes of this, the client eventually calmed down and the session continued with a different plan than first intended.

As a girl originally from small town Iowa, I immediately realized my method of driving would not cut it out here on the busy interstates of southern California. Accustomed to driving on wide open roads where I could easily zone out and switch to autopilot, I encountered major culture shock when I had to constantly be on the ball with the fast-moving traffic out here! I quickly adapted and changed my method. At first, I didn’t even listen to the radio for fear of becoming too distracted, but I’m happy to announce that as of last Tuesday, I can listen to music while I drive!

I know that throughout this internship, I will be forced to adapt in many ways, from my way of living to the way I approach session planning and leading. I look forward to learning and growing during my time at The Music Therapy Center!


Word of the Week: ETHICAL


Being honest with yourself seems to be the best indicator of professional ethics.  I have found that documentation keeps me accountable for what I see in sessions, and shows me how to translate the data into a short excerpt for parents to hear after sessions.

When I go home at the end of the day, refraining from revealing the identity of clients has been the most prominent ethical procedure throughout internship.  I see so many unique clients of all ages, and I am always excited about telling my family and friends about them.  The experience is rich and vivid, but I have to make sure that I don’t give it all away.  I consciously make sure I do not use names, and I keep information I have gathered about clients’ lives outside of sessions between myself and the clients.

– Hilary White

Word of the Week: CREATIVE

Music therapy lends itself to constant creativity in the work place.  I enjoy designing sessions that reach neurologic music therapy goals in fun and creative ways.  I especially enjoy using my saxophone for name that tune exercises, and rhythm imitations.  Some tunes I have had fun adapting for large groups are, “In the Mood” and “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”  For me, I know I have witnessed a successful creative moment when the music drives the reactions of my clients. There is not much work to be done explaining interventions once a musical rhythm or melody triggers and activates the brain to respond accordingly.  For instance, some rhythms lend themselves to dancing or moving right away.  Other tunes use melody to immediately grab listeners’ attention to hum or sing along.

As a music therapist, it is always the intent to get reactions out of clients in a creative manner.  Here is an article giving insight to the brain’s role when listening to music.  Many famous musicians speak about their personal experiences with emotions triggered by music.  In the end, all music is a creative approach towards activating our brains.

–  Hilary White