David Vandewalker, the Coordinator of Performing Arts, and Amber Weldon-Stephens, Music Therapy Director, went to the Fulton County Legacy of Excellence Awards to celebrate Rachel Coon-Arnott as the Lake Windward Elementary Teacher of the Year. There were hundreds of people in attendance at the Georgia World Congress Center celebrating teachers, principals, professionals and partnerships of the year. Way to go Rachel!
The leaves are changing colors and the spookiest time of year is almost here. Music therapists all over Fulton County have been gearing up for the season and holiday with all sorts of interventions to address many needs.
"Reach into the cauldron, tell me what you feel. Can you describe it before the big reveal?"
Brittany Taylor-Stewart's students were reaching into the cauldron and using their descriptive words and sense of touch to help decipher what might be inside the cauldron before they saw it with their eyes.
Students with music therapist Brittany Taylor-Stewart were using their expressive communication skills to rank spooky songs/videos on a "Spook-o-Meter" scale.
"3 Little Pumpkins were sitting on the hay, one little pumpkin rolled away!"
What a great opportunity for our little ones to practice left to right progression, number concepts, and turn-taking with our music therapy intern Miss Kelly.
"It's Fall, That's All!"
Students of music therapist Kirby Carruth enjoyed sensory play as a group
to celebrate the fall season.
At Wolf Creek Elementary, music therapy intern Ms. Carlee led the students in a Halloween/Fall sensory activity. Can you describe what you feel?
On Friday October 5th, board certified music therapist Angie Sylas came to Fulton County Schools to give her presentation about how to navigate movement differences in the music therapy environment. Throughout the presentation, Angie discussed how behaviors are caused by firings under the skin and how to better understand those firings to meet the needs of our students. Huge thanks for Angie for the wealth of information she gave us during this presentation.
Finally, our last intern spotlight is McKensie Podell, or Kenzi. She attended college at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, GA. One summer, Kenzi studied music therapy in Jamaica and learned how to play Nyabinghi drums. Something different about Kenzi revolves around her living situation in college. She lived in a haunted historic home in Milledgeville while completing her studies. If you Google "haunted home in Milledgeville, GA" the house Kenzi lived in is the first one to show up on the web-search.
During internship, Kenzi is most excited to learn all about the different techniques from our diverse group of therapists. Welcome, Kenzi!
Our fourth intern spotlight is Erika Lowenthal. She attended the University of Miami. While in college, Erika learned about music therapy in Ghana, Africa on a two week study abroad program. This was a perfect opportunity for her because outside of music, Erika loves to travel and learn about other cultures.
During her internship, Erika is most excited to learn from all the different music therapists and other interns. Welcome, Erika!
Our third intern spotlight is none other than Ms. Emily Keith! She is our only graduate student this year in internship. She received her BA in Music and psychology minor from Western Kentucky University. She is working to complete her Master of Music with a music therapy emphasis at Illinois State University. One of the best music experiences she's had was during a jam session. It was when Emily and another music therapy friend did slide whistle cover of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."
Outside of music, Emily is a lifelong girl scout and during her summer job at the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program, she had a club dedicated to her dog. People could stop by to hang out with him and at the end of the program, Emily distributed coloring pages that looked like her furry friend. During her internship, she is most excited to see how different MT-BCs bring their musicality and therapeutic approach into the field. From that, Emily wants to learn how to take these styles and better shape her identity as a future music therapist. Welcome, Emily!
Our second intern spotlight is Carlee Efeney from Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX. Carlee once played a marimba duet that required her to play on the backside of the instrument, which meant she performed the entire piece upside down. Outside of music, she enjoys scuba diving as she is scuba certified.
Carlee is most excited to learn different methods and styles of music therapy from all of her supervisors during internship. She's excited to use those skills in her future career as a music therapist. Welcome, Carlee!
Kelly Abrams is our first intern spotlight of the 2018-2019 school year. Kelly went to Berklee College of Music where she majored in Music Therapy and minored in psychology. She has had the opportunity to play in Boston's Symphony Hall twice. Outside of music, Kelly enjoys wood burning crafts.
In her internship, Kelly is most most excited to learn about and see the different music therapists’ approaches, and to determine how she can use that knowledge to develop her own music therapy style. Welcome, Kelly!
On Saturday September 22nd, the Music Therapy Association of Georgia (MTAG) hosted a continuing education event called the "Singing Journey Workshop." Virginia Schenck, a jazz vocalist and music therapist, lead the workshop for fellow music therapists and music therapy students at Georgia College and State University. Vocal improvisation and sound exploration techniques were used throughout to encourage different styles and learn new techniques for vocal interventions.
The 2018-2019 Fulton County Music Therapy Interns have begun their internship. On Friday September 7th, the interns met with internship director AmberWeldon-Stephens at Sweet Apple Elementary School for an instructional day where all interns received their school/supervisor assignments as well as other assignments for the course of their internship. After the conclusion of the information meeting, the interns met all sixteen music therapists and Fulton County's Performing Arts Coordinator, David Vandewalker, for a welcome luncheon. The interns first few weeks will be spent observing therapists throughout the county before starting to work with the students in early October.
NPR did a segment about the Parkland High School students this past week. Over the summer, the students at Parkland were invited to participate at Camp Shine. Camp Shine is a camp designed around using artistic expression to inspire hope after a tragedy. All of the counselors at Camp Shine are certified therapists or counselors and their program curriculum was created by Jessica Asch, a drama therapist from New York. Due to the variety of creative therapists employed at camp, the students were able to receive many different creative arts therapies including music therapy.
During the segment played on NPR on August 16th, host David Greene was allowed to sit in on a songwriting workshop where students were using music to heal, relax and calm themselves. You can listen to the segment here.
The music therapists in Fulton County have been busy this week. It was the first official week seeing students and to celebrate a successful first week back, here are some highlights from a few interventions the therapists have been doing this week.
An idea that was presented at our therapist kick off meeting, was an "I Spy" game related to school supplies. While therapists Marsha Lane and Kirby Carruth came up with the idea, Jessica Brodley-Lopez adapted it to meet her students' needs with the addition of sight words. Students all over the county went on a scavenger hunt searching for common school supplies to work on object identification and sight word recognition. After all, "I spy with my little eyes the things we use for school supplies."
Nicole Wright also adapted this idea for her students by turning it into a counting intervention. The pictures for this are below.
Shown above, students in Kirby Carruth's, Emily Minkow's and Brittany Taylor-Stewart's classes filled out a personal information form describing their musical interests. These middle and high school students worked on answering various wh-questions to express their likes and dislikes.
Some students at the elementary schools participated in various literacy activities using musical stories like "Pete the Cat" and "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books."
And finally, enjoy this video clip from therapist Nicole Wright using a hello song written by our own, Emily Minkow, to elicit spontaneous speech from her elementary schoolers.
The 2018-2019 school year has started off with a bang! All of the music therapists in Fulton County Schools have been visiting their schools for the year and working on scheduling/planning for all different types of classes. On Thursday August 9th, we met together at the North Learning Center for our start of the year kick-off planning meetings. We discussed many things regarding year-to-year logistics, but made sure to have a few musical breaks in-between.
We even had a visitor in our meeting, Steve Venz (pictured above) , the Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for Orange County in Southern California. Mr. Venz was visiting with us to learn more about music therapy and how it works in Fulton County Schools. Throughout our discussions together he told us, "You are on the cutting edge of something really amazing."
And to close out this blog post, enjoy some video clips from our meeting's musical moments:
It has been an incredible year to be apart of the music therapy team in Fulton County Schools. As a group of 16 music therapists covering 76 schools in Fulton County, we have had the opportunity to participate in many wonderful events, performances, professional developments and celebrations over the year.
In September, we welcomed our new batch of six interns to the Fulton County Music Therapy Department. We have been training interns for 19 years.
In October, we had the opportunity as a department to attend a Music Leadership Collaborative professional development by learning drumming techniques from one of our own therapists, Joe Bailey.
Around the holidays, many therapists from our department put on festive shows, went caroling or led holiday sing-a-longs.
In January, our faithful department leader Amber Weldon-Stephens, officially began her role as president of our national music therapy association, AMTA.
Also in January, we learned how to improve our guitar skills with music therapist Harry Lester.
In February, we celebrated music therapist Rachel Coon-Arnott for winning teacher of the year at Lake Windward Elementary School. Rachel was also given a service award at the Southeastern Music Therapy conference in March.
In February and March we auditioned and selected interns for the 2018-2019 school year.
Throughout the entire month of March, many therapists put on Exceptional Children's Week shows to celebrate children and youth with exceptionalities and the professionals who serve them.
In April, we attended another Music Leadership Collaborative professional development. Dr. Gayle Lindsey, an occupational therapist, came to present to us about better understanding the sensory needs of our students.
In May we attended both North and South Fulton County Special Olympics by participating in Olympic Town.
To end the school year, many therapists participated in end-of-the-year talent shows with their students, some even featuring an art gallery collaboration with the adaptive art teachers.
And finally, all throughout the year we had music therapists participating in presentations at Music Leadership Collaborations and Music Therapy Conferences, as well as here in our own school buildings.
And that's a wrap on the 2017-2018 school year! To see what your therapists are up to this summer, follow us on our Twitter and check to see if your school's music therapist has a personal Twitter of their own.
Northwestern Middle School hosted their annual performance, Northwestern’s Got Talent, under the direction of music therapist Emily Minkow. After rehearsing for over a month, the students were excited to present musical acts that included singing solos and duets, dancing, playing instruments like rhythm sticks, tambourines, and a drum set, and using American Sign Language (ASL) to sing. One of the best parts of the show was the huge smile and excitement each student displayed after performing, and the boisterous clapping and cheering from fellow classmates. Once the performance was complete, the students showed off their beautiful art portfolios, made with their Adaptive Art teacher, Mrs. Wendy Seeman, to their families and everyone enjoyed delicious treats together as well.
Community-Based Instruction (CBI) students at John's Creek High School ended the school year with their annual John's Creek Idol. With music therapist Brittany Taylor-Stewart, students sang, danced, played piano and even did a few comedy songs. The students worked so hard for almost two months to prepare for this show. Thanks to some awesome teachers, the students enjoyed a tasty treat in the lobby with friends afterwards to celebrate.
On Tuesday May 22nd, Northview High School had their first-annual Community-Based Instruction (CBI) talent show. Under the direction of music therapist Brittany Taylor-Stewart, the students sang, danced, and did sign language to music. Every student picked their own song and choreography, and practiced it for 6 weeks leading up to the show. They were fantastic performers and rocked out the auditorium. Amazing job on their first official CBI performance!
Under the direction of music therapist Brittany Taylor-Stewart, Community-Based Instruction (CBI) Students at Chattahoochee High School presented all sorts of musical talents at their annual talent show. On Monday May 21st, students in Hooch Idol danced, sang, and did sign language for the audience. A few students emceed the program by announcing all the acts and telling jokes throughout. Every single song was impeccably practiced and the students did amazing. We are already looking forward to next year's show!
Under the direction of Emily Minkow, Riverwood International Charter School hosted their 1st annual Community-Based Instruction (CBI) music therapy talent show on Wednesday May 16th. All of the students participated through self-selected acts such as singing, dancing, telling jokes, making “fireworks” through switch manipulation, using American Sign Language (ASL) to sing, and presenting songs made through music technology. What set this show apart from others was the audience participation! The students invited the audience to dance and sing with them from their seats, and even taught them body percussion that matched the song being sung. Following the performance, there was a PTA-sponsored breakfast reception and art exhibit, featuring student works made with their Adaptive Art teacher, Mrs. Ashley Greer Groninger. Way to go, Raiders!
Under the direction of music therapist Marsha Lane, the students at Langston Hughes High School participated in a Talent Showcase. The students sang, danced, played instruments and did sign language to music. Kudos to the students for a great 1st year showcase!
You can see a short snippet of what the showcase down below.
Another great performance in the books! Centennial High’s Community-Based Instruction (CBI) music therapy students had their annual talent show, Centennial’s Got Talent, on Monday May 7th. Under the direction of music therapist, Emily Minkow, the students selected their acts and made a huge impact on stage! They sang solos and duets, played instruments, spoke about the history of famous musical artists, and danced. Each audience member was given a glow bracelet to light up the room as they cheered and waved their arms to the music. There was also PTA-sponsored reception for the students as well as their families and friends to celebrate the momentous occasion. Congratulations Knights on a job well-done!