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Implementing the Future into Your Interventions

As part of my internship experience, we take on different placements for different amounts of time.  Currently, one of my placements is an day center working with adults with varying disabilities and intellectual levels.  From the start I knew I wanted to experiement with something I am very passionate about- technology.  My supervisor, Teri Weiner MT-BC has been a cheering support as a formulate new ideas and interventions.

So far, so good. I’ve had raving success with my clients and they’ve taken to the different interventions and activities well… you’ll love the responses you get from clients faces when they see they can control the “Tom Cat.”

A cat came fiddling out of a barn

With a pair of bagpipes under her arm

She could sing nothing but fiddle dee dee

and the mouse has married the bumble bee

Fiddle dee dee, lalalala etc.


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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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Guest Post: Sharing Your Story, Making a Change (Part 2) by. Dena Register Ph.D., MT-BC

Part 2 continues with the story of what happened with music therapy in Oklahoma. Missed Part 1? Read it here.

The Powerful After-Effect

As influential as seeing a live session was, the interactions that followed are what I will never forget.

The Director of the RISE school arranged for the physical therapist (PT), the occupational therapist (OT) and two parents to come to the meeting and share their experiences. Both the PT and the OT indicated that having music therapy services available at the school made their job easier AND more effective. Children didn’t need to be pulled out of the group as often because Robbin was able to use music to support the goals that the PT and OT were working on and the children could “work” in the context of the large group.

However, the most powerful moment of the day came from a mother of one of the children with autism. She shared her experience at a number of different early childhood programs where her child was provided the requisite services, including a paraprofessional, according to the law. She said that while these services met the requirements there were no laws stating that those individuals had to work to see the best in her child or to try and maximize his potential and help him thrive in a least restrictive environment.

She ended by saying, “When Robbin comes in to provide music therapy we all see responses and possibilities in him that we don’t see at any other time. It is a chance to see my child look like every other child.”

The room was silent. I still tear up when I share this story.

This was followed by the Director of Developmental Disabilities Services for the state asking a very pointed question, ”Where can we send other legislators to observe these kinds of services?”

Robbin smiled sweetly and said,  “Right here.”

His reply: “I understand but what OTHER locations in the state offer this kind of service?”

And again she replied, “Right here.”

There were at least three jaws that dropped with that realization. In essence, only 18-20 young children in the whole state of Oklahoma were receiving these services on a regular basis.

This advocacy meeting was a “win”.

Oklahoma’s Music Therapy Practice Act Bill

Things began to move rapidly in the days, weeks, and months that followed this meeting. The task force has been summoned to present to various lawmakers and agency heads. They’ve invited parents and clients to testify about the effects of music therapy, conducted a self-study to explore support for music therapy services in the state and submitted legislation to allow licensure for board-certified music therapists.

If you asked any of the ladies who signed up to join the task force, I’m quite certain none would have said that they 1) always dreamed of doing this kind of advocacy work and 2) that they considered themselves proficient at it.

However, the bill they have helped to champion made it quickly and easily through the Senate last year and into a House committee before getting stalled behind budget negotiations. The bill will be pre-filed again this year and, if all goes well, will move through both the House and the Senate before arriving on the Governor’s desk for passage into law.

Advocacy and YOU

We have all learned so much about our profession and our capabilities through this process. One of the most striking things about this journey and how far this group has come is that there are less than 40 music therapists working in the state of Oklahoma! What an incredible illustration of the impact a few people can have AND the impact of music therapy on the lives of those we serve.

As you enter 2011, what kind of impact will YOU make? What contribution do YOU have to share? I’ll leave you with these few things to think about:

  • Advocacy is for anyone. Advocacy happens everywhere, any day of the week, any time you are engaging in a professional capacity. You can advocate at every level (e.g. from grassroots to state governors to national legislators). Any opportunity, any conversation is a way to advocate for the profession. Advocacy also happens within out profession–as when you talk to a person trained in music therapy about board certification. And the skills are familiar to you because you already do this in other ways–you advocate for your clients, your employment, and your pay.
  • Advocacy is a language. You need to know your audience and tailor your advocacy skills for that audience. It’s just like tailoring your clinical skills for different clinical populations. And experience is the best teacher–having your audience experience music therapy first hand is very powerful.
  • You are powerful. When you choose to support your self and your profession by maintaining your membership in AMTA and renewing your board-certification you are contributing to a more powerful you AND a more powerful professional presence. When you send a letter or an e-mail or make a phone call to a legislator you are using your power to participate in what is happening in your state.

Dr. Dena Register is the Regulatory Affairs Advisor for the Certification Board for Music Therapists and an Associate Professor of Music Therapy at the University of Kansas She can be reached at


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Music Helps Vets with PTSD

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Conference: It’s where it’s AT!

As most professionals and many students know, National Conference is just around the corner! For myself and many fellow students, this is a time we REALLY look forward to (and not just because we get out of our classes!). It acts as a much needed boost to our day to day student lives, gives us opportunities and experiences we wouldn’t normally get if we didn’t attend and you get the chance to be surrounded by people who know, live and understand exactly what it is we do! As active members of our school’s chapter, we always encourage freshman and new students to attend both National and Regional conferences, regardless of their current skill level. Lucky for us this year, National Conference is just a mere 5 hour drive to Cleveland, OH as opposed to the cross country journey to San Diego, CA a few of us made last year. Nazareth College is happy to say that we are bringing a Nazareth record breaking amount of students to National’s this year!

Why should I attend conference?

  • Many professor’s will say it’s closely comparable to about a semester’s worth of course work as far as information presented.  Expand your brain power!
  • When you start applying for internships, you look like a dedicated individual who is willing to go above and beyond to learn new things.
  • You will get a TON of idea’s for activities, sessions and preparations for your practicum and professional life.
  • NETWORKING! NETWORKING! NETWORKING!! You will have all of the greatest in the field in the same building as you. Introduce yourself, go to meet and greets and fairs and attend their presentations!
  • Discounted instruments, research and song books and retail! 
  • Bonding time with your school, schools in your region and schools not in your region.
  • Connect with old colleagues and friends.
  • Gain valuable advice and point-of-views from working professionals.
  • Get different perspectives going on in the field including: populations, strategies, methods and progressive techniques!
  • Drum circles, Jam sessions, live karaoke and dancing- We are MUSIC therapists after all.

So… If you haven’t already- register for conference! It runs from November 17-21.  Information can be found at

Make sure to follow updates from myself and professional music therapists at hashtag #AMTA10! I will certainly be updating both on Twitter and Facebook! 😀

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