Profile: Jenn Manno, MM, MT-BC, NICU-MT

“I currently live in East Windsor, NJ. I graduated from Immaculata University with a dual degree of a BA in Music and a BM in Music Therapy and began working for a private practice shortly after graduation. In 2013 I completed a Masters from Florida State University in Music Therapy with a specialty NICU certification. Most of my clinical experience has been in hospitals, medical daycares, early intervention, and school settings. I currently have contracts with New Jersey Pediatric Feeding Associates (NJPFA) and Sensory Playground, an occupational clinic. At these facilities I provide music therapy to assist young clients with sensory needs to food or other stimuli, body regulation, communication needs, oral motor needs, and behavioral issues. I am devoted to providing treatment that elicits positive responses. 

“I am currently an independent contractor. I do this because there seem to be few jobs full time with children, which is the population I enjoy working with. Being a contractor can be frustrating, it takes hard work, flexibility, and willingness to try anything to make things happen. Unfortunately, the funding is not always there for children with special needs and most families are paying out of pocket for services, but I continue to work with parents and families because that is where the need is. I believe the earlier the intervention, the better the outcome. These children learn to function more independently with musical interventions, that is why I do what I do. Seeing a child light up when something clicks is wonderful, seeing the look on the parents’ faces when they watch their child do it, is even better.

“One of my favorite interventions is active music making. I like to use shaker songs and instruct my clients to play in different ways but the songs I use also have a singing verse so they have to shake and sing at the same time. This provides clients to demonstrate coordination of gross, fine, and oral motor skills.  The more we do it, the more in sync they become and instructing the parents on how to do this at home will only continue to reinforce progress.

“I have just recently moved to NJ, so I am still learning the ropes of what it means to be a music therapist here, but it appears to be a decent place to be. Both cities Philadelphia and New York are very close and provide many part time music therapy opportunities, most being for the mental health facilities. Montclair University has a very nice music therapy program, and the NJ task force is really working hard to achieve licensure for all of us here.

“Personally, my vision for myself by 2025 is to feel security in this field so I can keep pursuing my dream of helping others. I would also like to grow my professional development and obtain the NMT certification and possibly a child life certification as well.

“My perspective on Music Therapy is that the average person still does not understand what it is and what it can accomplish. Everyday I talk to potential clients’ parents about the benefits until I am blue in the face but it still seems they do not believe it is an evidence-based practice until they see it in action. We have got to somehow build this profession to being as prestigious as speech, OT, and physical therapy in the average person’s eyes and I personally think the way to do that is referrals. How do SLPs, OTs, and PTs, get referrals? Through doctors, insurance companies, school programs, etc. We need to reach out more to these professionals and find our place, because music therapy does have a place and we have to keep showing people this profession has value

“My vision for the field of Music Therapy by 2025 would be that music therapy has licensure in every state and is being implemented by all therapy related organizations: clinics, hospitals, school intermediate units, rehab facilities, be an essential part of IEPs, etc. I would also love it if music therapy was associated with recruiter companies that place therapists in jobs like other therapy professions have.

“My favorite song to listen to these days is Be Still by The Fray. Any hard day that I go through I put that song on and give it a good vocal belt and then take some deep breaths. After that, I feel ready to face whatever tomorrow has to bring.”

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