Some students must be taught motivation, curiosity, or interest, that is, to establish their own goals. No thinking adult wastes time in idle pursuits that are difficult and meaningless. How can the teacher expect everyone automatically to want to learn, especially when it may represent work? The rewards of learning must be fully established (Madsen & Madsen, 1998, p. 24).

Madsen, C. K. & Madsen, C. H. (1998). Teaching/Discipline: A Positive Approach For Educational Development. (4th ed.) Raleigh, NC: Contemporary Publishing Company of Raleigh, Inc.


Repertoire Challenge 03: Memorization

The Rhythm & Reason Blog’s Repertoire Challenge continues every Sunday this April. While driving from session to session,  sitting down to practice guitar, or watering the garden, keep song lyrics in your mind! You’ve thought of different genres, listed songs from each, and now – how many of those songs can you perform from memory? Which genres do you need to work on? Are there any clinical populations that you would like to be musically better prepared for? Are there specific techniques that you’d feel more confident about if you were more familiar with song lyrics or themes? How many songs can you memorize this week? How many do you want memorized in three months? Challenge 03: How many do you have memorized right now? What do you need to do in order to reach your memorization goals?


NCCIH Features MT for ASD

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) specifically featured Music Therapy (MT) to benefit individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in their April 2016 Clinical Digest: “The existing evidence base indicates that melatonin may be beneficial for sleep disorders associated with ASD. Music therapy may have a positive effect on social interaction, and communication and behavioral skills in those affected by ASDs. However, there is insufficient evidence to determine whether other complementary health approaches such as modified diets, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin B6, or chelation are efficacious for ASD symptoms” (NCCIH, 2016).

The e-newsletter compares the evidence-base, efficacy, and safety of common approaches to help those with ASD. Evidence for MT’s efficacy is attributed to the 2014 Cochrane review (Geretsegger, M., Elefant, C., Mössler, K.A., & Gold, C., 2014) “of 10 studies involving a total of 165 children with ASD found that music therapy was superior to “placebo” therapy or standard care for social interaction, non-verbal and verbal communication skills, initiating behavior, and social-emotional reciprocity. The review concluded that music therapy may help children with ASD to improve their skills in areas such as social interaction and communication, and may also contribute to increasing social adaptation skills in children with ASD and to promoting the quality of parent-child relationships” (NCCIH, 2016).

Geretsegger, M., Elefant, C., Mössler, K.A., & Gold, C. (2014). Music therapy for people with autism spectrum disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 6. Art. No.: CD004381. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004381.pub3

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). (April 2016). Autism Spectrum Disorder and Complementary Health Approaches. Retrieved from


Profile: Amy Kalas Buser, MM, MT-BC

Amy Kalas Buser founded Wholesome Harmonies, LLC in 2006 to, “provide high quality music therapy services to those in and around Miami, FL.” She brings extensive clinical, teaching, and writing experience to lead a large team of therapists and teachers. Amy uses all live music through a wide variety of instruments; she also composes (and publishes!) great original music for children with special needs. Presented below are a few insights Amy shared with the Rhythm & Reason Blog, but through Wholesome Harmonies’ website, she has already organized a TON of music therapy business and clinical practice resources. Check it out! Also, catch up on WH’s blog and follow Amy on Twitter!

Amy, what have you learned about clinical documentation, and are there any examples you would like to share?


Clinical documentation – I have learned the importance of creating professional documentation that can (and should!) be shared with the entire treatment team. Providing an integrated team approach has enormous benefits for the client. This approach ensures all team members are in communication about the client’s goals and progress.

How does this work? First, my intake paperwork contains a form entitled ‘Permission for Exchange of Information.’ Here the parent signs to give permission for me to contact the other professionals on the client’s treatment team. The parent then lists educators, physicians, SLPs, OTs, PTs, ABAs and psychologists that are working with their child and lists their contact information.

When I write up my Assessment Report and Treatment Plan, I send this to the professionals listed on the form. I also follow up with a personal email introducing myself to open the lines of communication. I share the goals I’m working on with the client in music therapy, as well as some of the techniques we’re using to address those goals. Then I invite them to share with me the goals they are working on in their sessions and see how I can incorporate those goals into my sessions, if applicable and within our scope of practice as music therapists.

I believe this integrated team approach opens the door for communication and a dialogue about the best way to approach treatment for this particular client. I’ve had some wonderful conversations where I’ve been able to share with an OT how I’ve been using the rhythm sticks to work on grasping and bilateral coordination with a client. Likewise, I’ve had a speech therapist share with me the target vocabulary words she was working on in her sessions with this client so I could incorporate them into my sessions as well.”

Advice regarding legal, financial, or other business related parts of private practice?


My advice is to seek professional advice from an attorney and accountant whenever possible. My accountant has saved me hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars by pointing out deductions I can take that I did not even realize. Not only has seeing an accountant helped save me money, it ensures my tax return is filled out accurately.

My second piece of advice is to not feel bad if you need to work another job as you’re building up your business. I worked a “9-5” music therapy job at an early intervention program and started seeing clients on the side, in the evenings and on weekends. Slowly, I built up my private practice caseload and slowly learned how to create the paperwork, documents, invoices, and everything else that comes along with running my own business. Then, when I had a big enough caseload built up, and I had subcontractors on my team, I was ready to go full time with my business. There is no shame in starting small and building slowly.”


Shout-Out! Envisioning the Future of Music Therapy

Temple University hosted an international music therapy symposium to stimulate vision and action towards the future of our profession in the United States and across the world. Cheyrl Dileo edited a book titled Envisioning the Future of Music Therapy to preserve and promote the stimulating information presented at the conference. This book is a great read, and it’s available for FREE DOWNLOAD! Thank you! Yes!

The book provides an overview, vision, recommendations, and research references based on what fourteen members of the Consortium of Music Therapy Research Universities presented on. These leaders were asked to, “talk regarding how he or she envisioned the future of music therapy theory, practice, and research in his or her particular area of expertise. These areas included specific clinical populations, music therapy methods, theory, and technology. The clinical areas represented included mental health, criminal justice, medicine, dementia, neuroscience, and autism. Specific music therapy methods included songwriting, clinical improvisation and the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.” Book chapters also include the future of music therapy theory, research, neuroscience, technology, and Dr. Dileo’s concluding summaries/reflections.


Hello & Goodbye Songs

A familiar hello song for many music therapists is piggybacked from “Goodnight Ladies.” This simple tune is great for children and older adults alike. Listen to “Hello Friends!” and quickly memorize the lyrics: “Hello friends, hello friends, hello friends, I’m glad you’re here today!”

Next, you might greet each group member through song: “Hello Emma, hello Noah, hello Emily, I’m glad you’re here today!” Walk around and engage each person individually. Encourage the whole group to say, “Hello, Emma!” Ask for names if you haven’t yet met, shake hands, check-in, offer high-fives, ask questions, give specific reinforcement. If your group is small enough, or you’re providing one-on-one therapy, you could dedicate a whole refrain to each person.

Finally, conclude your sessions with the same melody but now sing, “Goodbye friends, goodbye friends, goodbye friends, we’ll see you another time!” Some clients may have more success participating if you sing, “Bye bye friends” instead.

What are some other great hello or goodbye songs? Comment below or add your ideas to the Music Therapy Activities Wikia page titled, “Hello Songs” or “Goodbye Songs.” Thank you!


SOP 09: Potential For Harm

Music therapists are uniquely trained to implement evidence-based treatments that will serve and not harm their clients. Although the possibility of harm through music seems counterintuitive to some individuals, well-intending musicians without the required knowledge, skills, training, and experience may pose risks to vulnerable populations, such as premature infants, children with special needs, veterans of war with post-traumatic stress, or family members in hospice. “Music therapists, therefore, participate in continued education to remain competent, know their limitations in professional practice, and recognize when it is appropriate to seek assistance, advice, or consultation, or refer the client to another therapist or professional… To protect the public from threats of harm in clinical practice, music therapists comply with safety standards and competencies such as, but not limited to: Recognize and respond to situations in which there are clear and present dangers to a client and/or others; Recognize the potential harm of music experiences and use them with care; Recognize the potential harm of verbal and physical interventions during music experiences and use them with care; Observe infection control protocols (e.g., universal precautions, disinfecting instruments); Recognize the client populations and health conditions for which music experiences are contraindicated; and Comply with safety protocols with regard to transport and physical support of clients.”


All People Probably Need the Same Things

In every group there are students who seem to be ‘gifted,’ as well as students who appear to have ‘problems.’ These students are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because of standardized psychological test results, it is the behavior of each individual (good, bad, or nothing) that commands the teacher’s notice. Each the gifted, almost gifted, high normal, normal, low normal, slow, very slow, as well as those who are physically limited or ‘problematic’ in other ways all need to achieve socially and academically in every way possible. All people probably need many of the same things (Madsen & Madsen, 1998, p. 21).

Madsen, C. K. & Madsen, C. H. (1998). Teaching/Discipline: A Positive Approach For Educational Development. (4th ed.) Raleigh, NC: Contemporary Publishing Company of Raleigh, Inc.


MT on Social Functioning in Mental Health

“Promotion of positive relationships and trust is often crucial in mental health treatment. Social isolation is a common symptom of schizophrenia, and improved social functioning is a common predictor of remission (Schennach et al., 2012). In clients with PTSD, connecting with others is often a primary treatment focus…  Although more research is needed, music therapy may be capable of improving overall social functioning in these populations by boosting baseline hormone levels.”

“Literature suggests that music can mediate hormones related to stress and social affiliation. These biological mechanisms help music foster a trusting client-therapist bond and minimize client stress. Furthermore, the literature implicates auditory stimuli (including speech) as a key hormonal trigger. This is particularly meaningful for music therapists planning interventions early in the therapeutic process, because it places an emphasis on music and speech in the therapeutic relationship. This interpretation might be extended to suggest that therapists should pay special attention to vocal tone, musical timbres, acoustics, word choice, and background sounds during the first few sessions with a new client. In other words, the auditory components of the client-therapist communication may be the cornerstones of trust development.”

Legge, A.W. (2015). On the neural mechanisms of music therapy in mental health care: Literature review and clinical implications. Music Therapy Perspectives, 33(2), 128-141. doi: 10.1093/mtp/miv025

Schennach, R., Riedel, M., Obermeier, M., Jäger, M., Schmauss, M., Laux, G., & Möller, H.J. (2012). Remission and recovery and their predictors in schizophrenia spectrum disorder: Results from a 1-year follow-up naturalistic trial. Psychiatric Quarterly, 83(2), 187–207.