Time, Attention, Socialization

“Animals are locked in a perpetual present. They can learn from recent events, but they are easily distracted by what is in front of their eyes. Slowly, over a great period of time, our ancestors overcame this basic animal weakness. By looking long enough at any object and refusing to be distracted – even for a few seconds – they could momentarily detach themselves from their immediate surroundings. In this way they could notice patterns, make generalizations, and think ahead. They had the mental distance to think and reflect, even on the smallest scale.

“Early humans evolved the ability to detach and think as their primary advantage in the struggle to avoid predators and find food. It’s connected them to a reality other animals could not access. Thinking on this level was the single greatest turning point in all of evolution – the emergence of the conscious, reasoning mind.

The second biological advantage is subtler, but equally powerful in its implications. All primates are essentially social creatures, but because of their vulnerability in open areas, our earliest ancestors had a much greater need for group cohesion. They depended on the group for vigilant observation of predators and the gathering of food. In general, early hominids had many more social interactions than other primates. Over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, this social intelligence became increasingly sophisticated, allowing these ancestors to cooperate with one another on a high level. And as with our understanding of the natural environment, this intelligence depended on deep attention and focus. Misreading the social signs in a tight-knit group could prove highly dangerous” (Greene, 2013, p. 7)

Greene, R. (2013). Mastery. Penguin Books: New York, NY.


Earth Day 2016: Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena… It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

P.S. – Congratulations to James and Addison Kwasneski!


Shout-Out! Webinar with Music & Memory’s Dan Cohen

Kat Fulton and Rachelle Norman are hosting a webinar featuring Dan Cohen, founder of Music & Memory℠. The FREE webinar is TONIGHT at 6PM Eastern, 3PM Pacific time (Register here!). Tonight they will help you stay up-to-date as Music & Memory℠ moves into your state, talk about collaboration, guide you towards resources to be an effective consultant, and provide opportunities for you to grow your practice. Registering for the event only requires your first name and an e-mail address. After signing up, you will receive bonus e-mail updates as the partnership between Music Therapy and Music & Memory℠ develops. If you cannot make the live meeting, there will be a recording available.


Ben Folds


Tonight I am going to see Ben Folds perform! Beyond his great music, many music therapists love his understanding of and advocacy for music therapy. Back in January of 2013, Ben said, “I’m not a Music Therapist but I believe in it strongly enough to bring attention to it… It’s safe, cost-effective, and in some cases even insured. It incorporates some heavy science and research, and, most importantly, it gets results.” You can click here to read the rest of his 653-word Facebook post. Later that month, Ben chose Music Therapy as the community service he wanted to represent when performing in Washington, D.C. for the National Day of Service; the American Music Therapy Association recognized this contribution with a write-up. He has advocated for our profession, visited a Music Therapy Conference, and recently, he has even collaborated with prominent neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Levitin to write an open letter to the President of the University of North Dakota. UND currently intends to close their music therapy program, but Ben has joined the national response protesting to keep the program open; If UND saves the program, he will self-fund a “benefit performance/lecture with the intent of helping raise money to support its budget.” Final note for all music therapist Sinfonians – Ben’s an honorary!


Non-Profit Organization (NPO)

The Rhythm & Reason Blog has examined various business legal structures common for music therapy private practices: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Corporation, and will now discuss Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs). These brief introductions are for educational purposes only and do not substitute for rigorous research and expert legal counsel.

NPOs are often associated with service and charity. Whereas the previously discussed business structures ultimately seek to increase profits or dividends, non-profits are dedicated to addressing community needs or advancing a social cause. After covering all costs of running the business, surplus revenues must be used to further advance their mission.

Every business can benefit from a well-crafted mission statement. Perhaps no other legal structure demands a more thoroughly investigated statement of purpose more than an NPO. If you aim to build a non-profit, you must pinpoint a need for your new organization, research whether there are any pre-existing organizations serving similar needs, plan how you will ensure start-up plus sustained operational funding, and whether a non-profit is truly the best legal structure for your situation. A non-profit has the best chances of success when board members are judiciously selected, volunteers are motivated to support, and additional resources and supports are utilized. This team should craft a detailed business plan, including marketing and fundraising strategies. You will need professional guidance, preferably from an attorney or accountant with prior experience helping non-profits, to best navigate all of the required paperwork.

Once your team is ready to move forward, you will need to incorporate at the state level, apply for tax-exempt status first with the IRS, file for tax exempt status next on the state and local level, and then submit all applicable annual reports. The IRS recognizes 29 different types of non-profits, but the most common NPOs are categorized under Section 501(c)(3): those whose purposes are charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering amateur sports competition, or preventing cruelty to children or animals.

There are many decisions an aspiring business owner must make. Research, reflect, and seek counsel when selecting which business structure best fits your unique situation and vision. Whether working as a sole-proprietor, building an LLC, founding a corporation, or inspiring an NPO, remember that legal distinctions are just the beginning. Your business will only grow as big as you’re willing to go. Get out there! Live organized, be smart, work hard, study, meet important people, provide excellent service, keep effective records, develop lasting relationships, expand your network, advocate for music therapy, innovate, research, WORK, and flourish. Realizing your potential takes compassion, a willingness to ask for help, courage, commitment, and your own maturing combination of “intangibles.” Get out there and OWN IT!

Internal Revenue Service. (n.d.) Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits.

U.S. Small Business Administration. (n.d.). How to Start a Non-Profit. Retrieved from https://www.sba.gov/blogs/how-start-non-profit.

Wikipedia. (n.d.). 501(c) organization. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/501(c)_organization.



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 https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/autism-spectrum-disorder


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.