Monthly Archives: February 2011

Music Therapy in the Spotlight: Take Your Bow.

Is anyone else noticing that recently Music Therapy is getting more and more coverage in the media? Social networking sites, universities, students and professionals are exploding in excitement over all the recent coverage the profession has been getting, and the positive effects it has on AMTA, music therapy and on the lives of those who live it.  This sudden attention has definite positive outcomes, but it got me thinking- Will this change the way music therapy is taught in universities and how it is represented in society?

As a student it has become pretty apparent that it is basically part of the curriculum to teach students how to answer the question: “So what is music therapy?” We’ve been drilled, put in mock situations and taught the “elevator speech,” however, it’s curious to wonder if this will be necessary in years to come. With all the media coverage, will music therapy be more recognized, accepted, and known in society and will advocacy efforts lighten? Will this improve grant applications for working professionals, put music therapy at the top of treatment plans and have average citizens stop questioning what the profession entails? (no we aren’t necessarily music teachers.) These are all unanswerable questions-of course- and only time will tell.  It’s interesting to think about and discuss… and has me wondering- Where will my place and experience be in this field 5 years from now, and will it be different from the professionals of yesterday?

Most popular media coverage in the past few weeks:

1. Jodi Picoult, the author of “My sister’s keeper” is releasing her new book for publication tomorrow! It’s titled “Sing You Home” and follows the story of a music therapist.  It can be purchased here.


2.  A few weeks ago the trailer for “The Music Never Stopped” was released.  This full length, feature film follows a case study from Oliver Sacks book, Awakenings.  It revolves around a family who is dealing with disorder, and the son’s journey with music therapy.


3. Senator Gabby Giffords improvements have been followed and music therapy has been featured numerous times as part of her recovery process.  News, articles and social media sites have been spreading the word of music therapy as part of her rehabilitation and is becoming a popular talking point in media.  A great clip of the process can be seen here.

I hope that the hype continues and music therapy continues to be positively represented across the United States!


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Technology and Music: Part 3: Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media

Jim Ernst is a young new professional in the Rochester NY in  the field of Communications and Public Relations.  He  expresses an interest in personal branding as well as music  and  often writes about such topics on his personal blog.

Now you have your brand developed and on the web, so whats next? This is a common question that most people ask themselves when they are starting to create their on-line professional presence. If you want to be successful and expand your presence, you have to walk a fine line of not enough and too much.

You may be asking yourself, What does he mean by this?

Well, take a look at your normal social media participation. You are probably either updating it constantly or you check it every few weeks, you want to be in the middle of that line with your professional persona. When you are just using these technologies to keep up with your friends, you only need to worry about your participation level as much as you care to.

When your building and maintaining your professional persona on these sites you need to be constantly active, but not pushy. This mean you should always be checking to see what other people are saying to you on the sites. People want to be communicated with, and in a world filled with a need for instant gratification, you will loose peoples interests if you don’t respond quickly. If you publish a demo of a song on Purevolume, and people comment on it, try to comment back. Show them that you are active on your own sites, and that you aren’t the reclusive musician. Also, try to make sure that you share relevant information with those that follow you. If you are a music therapist, send out information around that topic. If you see a movie or book coming out that features your field, then share the link. If your profession was featured on the news, then share the link. Don’t post a link to a cat doing something funny, no matter how cute it is. This is probably the biggest factor that causes people to loose followers. Yes, they might find that cat funny and cute, but they came to your site to get information on you or your expertise. Unless you were giving therapy to that cat because of their traumatic but cute incident, then it is not relevant.

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Technology and Music: Part 2: Social Media and You

Jim Ernst is a young new professional in the Rochester NY in  the field of Communications and Public Relations.  He  expresses an interest in personal branding as well as music  and  often writes about such topics on his personal blog.

Now that you have your brand figured out, it is time to start putting your brand to work for you. You have to live into your brand. Every time you meet with a new client or a potential employer, make sure you take some time to reflect on that meeting after it happens. Did your Brand Essence come into play during that meeting? Do you think that Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So walked out of there thinking you were “fill in the blanks?”. When you are giving your therapy session, did you keep your brand promise to that client? It is going to be tough but to have a solid brand you really have to eat, breath, and sleep it. But remember, you don’t announce what the details of your brand are to the world, so don’t think that if you can announce your brand promise to make it easier for your clients or audience to see where you are coming from.

Now that you have your Brand and are living into it, it is now time to begin building your brand into your Social Media sites. In the section below, I am going to walk you through a variety of Social Media tools that you can use to strengthen your Brand Presence and get noticed in the world. You can use bits and pieces of each, or you can decide that one tool is best for you. That is the great and frustrating thing about Social Media, there is no right way of doing it but there can be wrong ways.


Facebook is probably the one place you want to be involved with on-line, no matter what your goals are. There are over 500 Million active users on Facebook, and it is reported that 50% of those people log on each day. That is 250 Million people that you can potentially influence on a given day. Now for a Music Therapist, you will want to concentrate on the city you are in, but for a musician you might want to gain exposure over a state or a country or even the world. For more stats on the usage of facebook, click here.

The key to expanding your brand and advertising is hitting people where they currently are. That is why billboards are placed on popular highways. People drive past them, they see them without actively going to see them. Every time you post a message to your wall, your friends get that message on theirs. They are already sitting there, using the site, so why not take advantage of their active attention.

Now for your options. You have two general options when deciding what direction to go with Facebook. The first option is to create a page for your professional self. This way people aren’t linked directly to your personal profile when looking for you on this site. The benefits of this are that you can still have your private space where you can maintain personal relationships without getting friend requested from every person looking at you professionally.  You can flood the airwaves with professional links and information without pushing it on your college buddies, unless they want to go like your page. The cons of using this technique are that you have to go to the page to update, and you have to update. I would say if you don’t provide 1 new (USEFUL) post a day, then you will loose your audience.

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Technology and Music: Part 1: Developing Your Brand

From Do it in Public 2.0, by Jim Ernst

Jim Ernst is a young new professional in the Rochester NY in  the field of Communications and Public Relations.  He  expresses an interest in personal branding as well as music  and  often writes about such topics on his personal blog.


Music is an important part of our lives. Most of us listen to music in the car, in the office, on our ipods as we work out, but how often do we actually think of the people behind the music. There is a mass of people in this world that choose to make a career out of music and they are not the ones who have aspirations to become the next top 10 radio stars. Most of these musicians want to make a living as a classical performance artist, an educator, a music therapist, or an accompanist. These positions are some of the most difficult to obtain to because not only do you have to participate in the rat race of finding an open position out there, like the rest of our fields, you also have to back it up with your performance abilities and be an advocate for yourself. So I am putting together this 3 part series on how to use various technologies to help brand yourself as a musical genius before you ever sit down to audition for that job.

Part 1: Developing your Brand

The first step in getting your name out there as a musician is to decide what you want to communicate about yourself. This is a little bit different than developing a brand for a business or a organization, and in my opinion developing a personal brand is one of the hardest things to do. What do I mean by this?  Companies have the chance to rebrand themselves if they make a huge mistake or just want people to feel differently about them. The best example of this is when companies change their logo. This is a sign that you are supposed to feel differently about them, or that they have grown or changed in some way. Sometimes companies decide to change their brand identity, just because. One classic example of this is the GAP controversy from this past year.

But when you are talking about a personal brand, you have to realize that you might not be able to change it as easy as a company. If you build a really bad brand for yourself, you can’t just go delete everything about you that does exist on-line and change your name to get away from that Brand image. So the best bet is to be on top of it from the beginning.  Before we get into the actual steps to develop your brand, here are a few rules for keeping your social personality in check.

  1. So all that information you keep hearing about watching what you put on facebook or twitter, is true. However, I do encourage you to leave your profile completely open. The image you show to people when you do keep your profile private, is that you have something much worse to hid than you probably do. Also, it is good to show potential employers that you do have a social life. Once again, there is a fine line between social life and having a bender each weekend.
  2. Don’t tweet about everything you do! If your going to use your twitter account as a networking tool, only use it to update on things that are relevant to your field. We don’t need to hear about what your having for breakfast, or how disgusting that public restroom was. Instead send us a link about a story on another music therapist, or on a new venue for performance artists.
  3. Keep your profile updated! If your going to write a blog, tweet, or even use Facebook, don’t leave it blank for weeks or even days. People will stop checking if you leave the same stagnant information online. You will just have to work twice as hard to gain their attention back if you do loose them. Trust me!

So now that you know basic rules, lets talk about developing your brand. There are three parts to your brand.

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