• The first reference to “musical therapy” [in the New York Times] occurred in an article published in 1919.
  • “Music therapy” first appeared in 1937; 4 articles included the phrase that year.
  • “Musical therapy” was initially the most commonly used phrase in the paper. “Music therapy” first surpassed it in 1937.
  • Although “music therapy” began to be used more consistently than “musical therapy” beginning in 1954, but it wasn’t until 1984 that this occurred every year.
  • The most articles that referenced “music therapy” were published in 2008. There were 13 that year.

(via Music Therapy Maven)


Quick Reminder

Be sure to complete your AMTA Member/Music Therapist survey by August 29th to help create a complete picture of the profession for the next year. Should be in your email. 


Three Tips for the Non-Singer

Before I became a music therapist, I thought there was no hope for me as a singer. My primary instrument before college was piano. I pushed a key and the right note always came out. Singing did not prove so easy. In my Intro to Music Therapy class I could feel that my voice tired easily and was breathy. I didn’t even want to think about hearing a recording of myself. In my first practicum placements, the same feedback was always offered: I didn’t project my voice enough. All this caused me to become so nervous about my voice I put off my beginning group voice class until the spring of my sophomore year. I just didn’t know how to deal with this instrument built into my body.

Though starting internship and singing everyday helped me gain confidence and strength in my voice, I’m always looking to improve my voice. Without years of formal training I need to be especially mindful not to injure my voice (as I’ve done in the past). And while I’m not a vocalist in any classical sense, here are three practices I’ve found helpful to build up my voice for the functional day-in, day-out schedule of a music therapist.

1. Get help… on the cheap. While I realized my voice needed support, I was reluctant to enroll in individual voice lessons because they were so expensive. As if an answer to my prayers, I saw a poster offering free voice lessons from vocal pedagogy students in my conservatory. These future voice teachers needed individual students on which to practice their vocal coaching skills. I signed up and started to get the one-to-one attention I needed from someone who knew a lot more about the voice than me. My “teacher” was able to listen to my concerns and perception of my voice and started me on the path toward a healthy voice.

If you’re a music therapy major, chances are your college offers a music education major and has student teachers who are required to give lessons at some point of their pedagogy classes. As another option, YouTube also has plenty of voice tutorials though these may not offer consistent advice.

2. Record yourself for feedback. With smart phones, iPads, and GarageBand, there are plenty of ways to record your voice. Once I got my iPad, I found that using a free voice memo app (like iTalk) was a great way to get feedback about my voice in the privacy of my apartment. To this day, I still practice and record myself. Listening back, I can match what I’m feeling in my throat to what I hear on the recording and adjust accordingly. When I’m alone I have the freedom to experiment and sound absolutely horrible because no one is around. Without exploring what your voice can do, you won’t discover what it is capable of.

3. Sing everyday. I was practicing the above pieces of advice my last two years of college, but didn’t “find my voice” until I started my internship. Singing everyday helped me build my voice as a muscle. Steady use of my voice helped build upon the successes of the week before and really got me over the hurdle of fear I had built up in my head while singing. My voice, though, is always a work in progress. Today, I often run through simple vocal warm-ups to stretch my range and keep my voice sharp.

While I’ll never be on American Idol, that’s not the goal I have for my voice. My voice is a tool to reach people and provide structure and leadership in my sessions. While these tips are of my experience, the most important part is keeping your voice healthy. As music therapists, we will need it for the rest of our lives!


I’ve finally done it. I’ve archived all the awesome, thoughtful questions I’ve answered since starting this blog. You can find the list in the “Q&A” section on the heading of my blog. Please check it out if you have questions about preparing the be a student/intern or if you want to learn how I got into music therapy and what I think about research. 

Thanks for the questions so far and looking forward to more in the future!


Brea of Thrive Music Therapy


(via Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra)


Music Therapy Conference PSA

If you’re going to the American Music Therapy Association’s 2014 Conference in Louisville, KY be sure to register by the end of the month to get earlybird registration rates. 

And for traveling there consider Mega Bus instead of flying. Got my round trip tickets for $25 total. Way cheaper than a plane. Hope to see you all there!


Close to Home

I never expected my routines to change so much since becoming a music therapist. Every morning, I’m adamant about applying sunscreen and when I catch myself slumping, I immediately sit up straight. I’ve taken up journaling and go to concerts more often. All these adjustments are not a result of my finding centeredness when I began working. Instead, these come from a deep insecurity that’s increasingly apparent to me: I am probably going to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

This fact is no surprise given my family history. On one side of my family, there are at least two generations with clear diagnoses of Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia. Although I experienced the progression of Alzheimer’s disease through my grandmother, I was never a direct caregiver to her. Today, my outlook has changed. Working in close contact with older adults with dementia and their families, my understanding of the day-to-day consequences of living with dementia is greatly evolved. This has led me to make the most of my time now.

I am in my twenties, a time that is often the last to be touched by disease. It’s both humbling and empowering to have insight into a possible future of mine. On the one hand, there are still decades for me to practice good health habits in an attempt to stave any genetic susceptibilities. There are days when I am optimistic and consistent and follow through on my good intentions to go to the gym. Other days, I am reminded of one of my grandmother’s mannerisms and am faced with the likely reality that I will one day follow suit.

Oftentimes during a session, a client shares about his or her past after a song has cued them to retrieve a memory. This is old news to music therapists. But, how could the connection between one’s life and music be enhanced? In my experience, my clients do not have the ability to share details of their lives in depth and I must rely on the secondhand information given to me by family members about a client’s musical preferences and experiences.

I intend to make it clear to my family members that I’d like to receive music therapy services should I develop dementia. As a music therapist, I’d like someday to make a timeline of my life and music. What kind of amazing sessions could unfold if a music therapist had access to a repertoire of songs connected the narrative of my life as told by me? How can I prepare for a future in which I am a care receiver instead of a care taker?

One woman, Alanna Shaikh, has spoken out about her prescience of developing Alzheimer’s disease and the steps she’s taking to prepare for it. Her insight helped me understand that ignoring my genes does not help my tomorrow. I now have more hope that I can be an agent of my future. If you’d like to hear her talk, “How I’m Preparing to Get Alzheimer’s” you can click HERE.

Knowing that I may develop Alzheimer’s disease is scary, but in some ways presents itself as a gift. Today, I have the time, information, and motivation to prevent dementia (hopefully). If not, I can create resources for my (in-the-far) future caregivers to improve their care of me. I will make the most of today because these may be the memories on which I most rely at the end of my life.



Research and dance movement coming together!

In music therapy a person’s musical ability is not important, because music therapy focuses on the “process” rather than the “product.” How well you can sing or play an instrument, for instance, is a product of music making. On the other hand, what you gain through the process is the focus of music therapy.

Like and/or reblog this if you are a Music Therapy dedicated blog!



As I just recently started this blog, I am only following 11 other blogs, which unfortunately calls for a slow dashboard. I’d love to follow more people that dedicate a large portion of or the entirety of their blogs to music therapy. So, if this applies to you, like or reblog this post so I can follow you!