Friday, January 16, 2009

Reaching Out

The live radio broadcast last Friday morning went well. My colleague Nina Guerrero and I were questioned at length by Dr. Alexandra Barzvi and Dr. Jerome Bubrick of the NYU Child Study Center on a number of topics: the Nordoff-Robbins approach to music therapy; how music therapy helps children with Autism Spectrum Disorders communicate; the Center's current research, and more. We played three brief audio excerpts of Clive and Paul's work with a young boy back in the 1960s, which dramatically illustrated how music therapy can engage children and elicit beginning speech. I shared several anecdotes of clinical work to help make the work accessible to listeners. We have received much positive feedback from the program, and one listener, who is considering studying music therapy, has already visited the Center to learn more about our work.

Yesterday we received a letter in the mail from a sixth grader in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Here are some of her comments:

I believe you are a wonderful foundation... Helping disabled people is wonderful, and music is the best way to do this. It is fun, entertaining, and helpful, all at the same time...It is amazing that you can make these people so happy and excited. Just being able to teach people who may have a hard time with other things, how to play an instrument is great...I'm sure people love coming to you. Continue with this it is the best thing you could possibly do.

After working at the Center for 19 years (and in the field for many years before that), I find it refreshing to see the work anew through someone else's eyes. It reminds me of the power and uniqueness of music therapy, and of music itself. It is gratifying to know that we have touched this young girl's life. She ends her letter saying, When I am eighteen I might try to acquire the skills to work for your organization. I love helping people any way possible. Thank you for doing what you do to make these peoples lives so much better...

Peace and Harmony,

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's great to be back at work after the winter break! Already there have been some exciting developments. On Friday morning (January 9) I have been invited to participate in a live radio program: Sirius XM Radio's Doctor Radio show, "About Our Kids." Doctor Radio broadcasts on Sirius 114 & XM 119. The hosts, Dr. Lori Evans, Ph.D. & Dr. Jess Shatkin, MD, from the NYU Child Study Center, will be hosting a show about Music Therapy through Song and Sound. We will be talking about how music therapy is used to help children on the autism spectrum communicate. My colleague from the Center, Nina Guererro, will be joining me for the hour-long segment. The show runs from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM; there will be other discussions between 8 and 9, and our segment runs from 9 to 10. This is a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about music therapy in general, and specifically the potential of music therapy to enhance communication and social interaction in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Please tune in!!!

I had another bit of good news: I have been nominated to the Board of Directors of the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). The CBMT administers and maintains a national certification and recertification program for the profession of music therapy. In the past I have served on the Exam Committee, which writes the certification exam, and on the Practice Analysis Committee, which identifies the tasks necessary for the practice of music therapy. I am honored to be asked to serve on this committee, which has done so much for the profession.

I have also been invited to submit a proposal for the Fourth International Forum of the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs in Doha, Qatar in April. I presented at last year's Forum, and I am looking forward to returning for a most stimulating conference. The theme this year is Achieving Independence. I am planning to cull from the Center's vast video library to illustrate how children and adolescents with a variety of disabilities can move towards freedom and independence through music therapy.

I welcome you to contribute your ideas, and send best wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year!