This week’s word is SCIENCE. When I think of the word “science”, I immediately think of when I was in 4th grade and our class would watch an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy every Friday. I hope you folks are ready for a throwback to the 90’s with this video:

Brings back some good memories 🙂 Now for my rocky segue into how it relates to music therapy.

The music therapists at MTCCA are NMTs (Neurologic Music Therapists), which means that they are trained on the specific areas of the brain that react to certain things, like motor movement, language, and cognition. We use music therapy techniques that are specific to the certain areas of the brain. Bill Nye discusses memory at about 5:36 in the above video. In retirement homes and older adult settings, I like to use “name that tune” to stimulate long-term memory in clients. The melodies from their favorite songs are stored in the brain, and when they hear the familiar tune, the memory comes back.

Children with Autism often have delayed speech development due to the way their brain is wired. Speech is processed in specific parts of the brain, but the great thing about music is that it is processed in the ENTIRE brain. Think about it a pianist: when someone plays piano, they are accessing fine motor movement (moving the fingers), tracking (reading the music), auditory processing (listening to themselves play), and much more! In children with autism, the neural firing networks do not work the same as the typical functioning brain. By using melodic prompting and left-hand tapping, we can help a child with autism form a sentence. The brain is such an amazing thing! I will leave you with another Bill Nye gem:



I find this word very fitting for my point in life right now. I have just moved from Oklahoma to California, have finished all my “classroom” classes for my Bachelors degree, and started my internship here at the Music Therapy Center of California. The past three weeks have been somewhat of a whirlwind, not that I don’t mind. I seem to have found myself twenty different projects to work on. One of the big projects I have put upon myself is creating a binder of session plans and another for visuals to use during sessions. Through this endeavor I have found myself obsessing over a cube, the cube is used for certain interventions that can be implemented. I have kept thinking of new ways and themes that I want to use this cube. The sad part is, the cube is not even mine. My internship director is going to have to keep her eye on it. (have to do a LOTR reference now, my precious) This is how invested music therapy interns become. Or maybe just me and that cube…

Word of the week: Function

As a music therapy student and intern, I am constantly learning how to defend and validate the profession. In his book, Rhythm, Music, and the Brain: Scientific Foundations and Clinical Applications, Michael Thaut discusses the Transformational Design Model (TDM). This model is a way for music therapists to validate the interventions planned, by looking at the specific clinical function. Thaut mentions the two main mistakes music therapists often make when planning interventions: creating an activity-based approach where generic musical activities are adapted for different populations, and therapeutic music techniques applied to reach broad, general goals. Beginning with a diagnostic assessment of the client’s needs and goals, the TDM uses an “upside-down pyramid” technique, with each consecutive step becoming more specific. By utilizing the TDM, music therapists can more effectively treat their clients by gaining a better understanding of each intervention’s specific function. I hope to make it a habit to regularly use the TDM in my intervention planning!