Our national organization, AMTA, is striving to advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy and increase access to music therapy services. A big part in recent years of increasing awareness has been to partner with well-known musicians, celebrities, politicians, etc. Check out our recent partnership with award-winning actor, singer and songwriter Ben Platt.
If you missed previous partnerships, check these out:
Our team of music therapists hosted an internship workshop on March 16th, 17th, and 19th. During this time, the team of therapists interviewed intern applicants for the 2021-2022 school year. We look forward to hosting a new group of interns in September.
Exceptional Children's Week
From March 1-5, Fulton County Schools in cooperation with the Georgia Council for Exceptional Children hosted Exceptional Children’s week- a celebration of exceptional and uniquely talented students throughout Fulton County Schools. This year’s theme was, “Virtually Unstoppable,” which our students and teachers surely exemplify this year. Each year, many of the music therapists participate in Exceptional Children’s Week by planning special events with their students, and musical performances to showcase student talent. Because of special circumstances this year, many of our therapists were able to pivot to a virtual platform in order to make their students shine! Students from schools such as Wolf Creek Elementary School, Vickery Mill Elementary School, Camp Creek Middle School, Lake Windward Elementary School, and many, many, more were showcased performing some of their favorite songs that represent resiliency, motivation, perseverance, and kindness.
This Friday, we decided to give you an invitation to check out what's it like to be an intern in our Friday meetings. Our internship director and department head, Amber Weldon-Stephens, begins meeting with the interns at 1pm to allow small group time to gather before the other fifteen therapists join as well. This small group time was a direct result of requests from previous interns to have a smaller setting to ask questions, as meeting with sixteen music therapists can be a little intimidating.
As a group, various topics are discussed throughout the meeting such as intern assignments that are upcoming, data collection, and reminders for the therapists to complete evaluations on intern performance, to name a few. These are all skills any music therapy student is developing as they finish their journey to becoming professionals. We also discuss current events happening in the music therapy world/our school calendar for students and professionals alike.
Every time we gather with our interns, we purposefully take the time to review different times of research applicable or related to music therapy to stay relevant in research. This meeting Kevin Middlebrooks was chosen to pick an article for review. He sent out a research article called "It's...Complicated - A Theoretical Model of Music-Induced Harm" written by three university professors.To give a quick summary, this article explored how music can be invasive to different populations when certain factors are taking into consideration, and how music therapists are properly trained to avoid those uncomfortable and harming situations. Check out the 2020 Journal of Music Therapy for more information and to read the article.
After the article review, Shreya and Hannah each shared a musical intervention that they have used with their music therapy groups that was successful. Sharing ideas and successful music experiences is such an important component to thriving as music therapy professionals. We try to be intentional about practicing important skills to further our interns' knowledge, so the activity share led into our "Test Time" where we review practice questions from our board certification exam, go over some technology tips for optimal success within the classroom, and talk about some important self care tips which in this school year is more important than ever. Lastly, we ended this meeting with some tips for success in the middle and high school classroom. Thanks for joining us and taking a sneak peek into an intern meeting!
Intern Spotlight: Hannah Claycomb
Our last intern to spotlight is Hannah Claycomb. She joins us from Seattle Pacific University and her favorite musicians are Kendrick Lamar and Billie Holiday. She originally developed an interest in music therapy after doing some research on her own. She originally wanted to be a nurse but discovered that she was scared of blood. Hannah always loved music, as well as enjoyed singing and playing instruments but did not want to solely be a musician. In her research, she was looking for a way to combine her musicianship and healthcare, and that's how Hannah found music therapy. After discovering this profession, her heart was set on becoming a music therapist.
Hannah's favorite internship experience so far has been getting to know the students, teachers, therapist, and other staff more as the weeks go on. She says, "Everyone has been so welcoming and kind to me and I am learning so much from my students, supervisors, and everyone else I have met along the way." Outside of music, Hannah enjoys starting the day with a nice cup of coffee. We are so excited to have her with us. Welcome Hannah!
Intern Spotlight: Allyssa Nehrenz
Our next to last intern to spotlight is Allyssa Nehrenz. She comes to us from Belmont University in Nashville, TN. She originally got into music therapy after talking to a vocal teacher in high school and expressing her interest in music as a career. Like many of us therapists, Allyssa didn't want to perform or teach music traditionally, so her teacher gave her some info about music therapy and Allyssa quickly fell in love with the idea. She has always had a passion for music and children with special needs, so music therapy is the perfect career choice for her. Allyssa's favorite moment thus far in internship was when a student told her should become TikTok or youtube famous. She says, "I loved the support and confidence the students had in my singing and guitar playing even though I am far from ever becoming a social media influencer."
Allyssa's favorite musician is Kacey Musgraves and she enjoys cooking or baking. Allyssa also enjoys dark chocolate and watermelon sour patch candies. Her favorite vacation she's ever taken was a cruise with her family to Alaska. Welcome, Allyssa!
Intern Spotlight: Tzu-Han Hu
Our next intern spotlight is all about Tzu-Han Hu. She joins us from Taiwan, but but this is her third year in the United State. Tzu-Han originally formed an interest in music therapy when she was teaching general music education in Taiwan. She was naturally drawn to students in the special education program and paid extra attention to the way music affected their behavior. As her curiosity grew, she became eager to learn how to use music to increase her special education students' overall functioning. That interest led her to Illinois State University where she studied music therapy.
Tzu-Han's favorite musician is Berliner Philharmoniker and she loves to travel/eating delicious food.Her favorite part of internship thus far is observing how differently the students can react to music activities. To quote her "different students had different responses to it, which made every day a special day or a surprise to you!" Welcome, Tzu-Han!
Intern Spotlight: Kira Ohmart
Our next intern to spotlight is Kira Ohmart. She has studied at Emory and Colorado State. She got into music therapy after teaching in two schools in Colorado. Kira loved working in the setting, but desired more than teaching literacy and math. Since she loved music, she applied to Colorado State's music therapy program and was accepted to officially begin her music therapy journey. Her favorite experience of internship so far has been working with her co-intern, Tzu-Han, as she's been learning a lot from her.
Kira has varying favorite musicians, but at the time of submission for this post, her favorite was Stevie Nicks. Some interesting facts about her are that all of her clothes are things she has made or tailored, and one of her favorite snacks are Flaming Hot Cheetos. Welcome, Kira!
Up next, we would like you to meet Shreya Visvanathan. Shreya attended the University of Georgia and began studying music therapy after a recommendation to look into it from her high school choral teacher. Her favorite musician is The Little Strong (also from Athens, GA) and her favorite experience of internship thus far was the environment around the holidays. Getting to see students dressed in their festive wear, as well as holiday themed music interventions was such a joy!
An interesting fact about Shreya is that she has a rule that she has to try something five times before deciding whether or not she likes it, especially when it comes to food. Welcome, Shreya!
Intern Spotlight: Micaela Guyton
Over the next week, we will be doing a daily spotlight of our wonderful music therapy interns. They just reached the midway of their internship and will be leading their full caseloads in the upcoming months. Let's introduce you to them!
Up first, we have Micaela Guyton. She joins us from Mississippi University for Women and originally started studying early childhood education. Her mom's best friend introduced her to music therapy. She fell in love and decided to shift her studies. Micaela knew that music therapy would be a lifelong career choice after her first practicum experience in college. Her favorite internship experience thus far has been leading her first full session and overcoming the nerves related to it, as well as being able to fellowship with fellow interns through FaceTime.
Micaela enjoys listening to Tori Kelly in her spare time and has a hidden talent of being able to quote a movie, tv show, or sing a song based off of one word a person someone says to her during a conversation. Welcome, Micaela!
2021 is Here!
2021 is finally here and we wish you all the Happiest New Year! Our therapists have been busy these past two days preparing for the semester and our interns are preparing to fully take over their caseloads. We are excited, like many, about what this new year will bring and are hopeful for some normalcy to return. Until then, we will continue to prepare for simultaneous learning to engage both our face-to-face and virtual learners all the same.
The semester is coming to an end this week as high schoolers are finishing up their finals and there are virtual parties/holiday sing-a-longs galore in the elementary schools. We successfully navigated through our first entire semester with COVID-19 and welcome a break to rejuvenate and recharge for January.
As we prepare to welcome students back, our interns will be prepping to take on their entire caseloads. Stay tuned for an introduction to our interns coming when we return. Until then, happiest holidays to you and yours and cheers to a safe, healthy 2021!
Self-Care in 2020
One of the most important things in the year of 2020 is to take care of ourselves so we can best serve our students. Two of our own, Marsha Lane and Stephanie Guest, have taken on the role of self-care and feel good stories on Mondays get us going and help encourage our interns during these strange times.
This particular photo was sent out by Marsha to our interns and music therapy team last week and it is a great addition to our blog. In a year where everything is abnormal, it's always a good reminder to do the things that bring us joy to ensure we are the best therapists we can be. As 2020 comes to an end, make sure you're taking care of yourself, too.
It feels strange welcoming back students to school (full-time for those that are able) in October. It's such a strange way to "start" a year, but your music therapists are so excited to see students' faces again. While we have been serving students via Microsoft Teams in a virtual environment, most Fulton County music therapists have begun rotating schools to start serving our classes face-to-face. While some faces are familiar, there might be a new music therapy intern or two in the mix. The photo above is "big snaps" to our interns as they begin the last step of their academic class requirements before they graduate and sit for the Music Therapy Board Examination.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did an article on Atlanta's first therapeutic Parkinson's choir which gets its music therapy expertise from our music therapy colleagues over at the George Center in Roswell, GA. They are having their first concert this Sunday, June 30th. You can read the article here for more information.
Music Therapy Summit
On May 31st, Dr. Andrew Knight from Colorado State University came to the Atlanta area to be apart of the Music Therapy Summit hosted by Fulton County Schools. Dr. Knight spoke on many different topics including the use of early childhood music curriculums like Music Together within a therapeutic setting, and how music and rhythm can be used for treatment. Participants did all sorts of engaging activities like drumming, singing and intervention breakdown/planning. Thanks to Dr. Knight for such a wonderful presentation.
Northwestern's Got Talent
The students at Northwestern Middle School held their 3rd annual Northwestern's Got Talent performance on Wednesday, May 15th at 1:30pm in the Media Center. Each student selected their talent, whether it was singing, dancing, and playing various instruments. Before the performance began, the students acted in "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" skit, which they worked on in their drama class. The show concluded with a finale which utilized American Sign Language, and a delicious reception. The enthusiasm these students showed in front an audience of families, school faculty, and peers was incredible!
Riverwood's Got Talent
Riverwood ICS hosted their 2nd annual CBI talent show on Wednesday, May 15th at 9:00am. Each student selected what they wanted to do for the show, whether it was singing, dancing, announcing the acts, or working backstage. The performance began with a group dance to "In My Feelings" by Drake, and concluded with using American Sign Language to "Rise" by Jonas Blue. After the performance, the CBI department hosted a breakfast reception and art exhibit in the CBI coffee shop. The musical artist timeline the students have worked on weekly was displayed here as well. It was a performance to remember!
Centennial's Got Talent
On Monday, May 13th, the Centennial CBI program hosted their annual end of the year talent show. The students selected a variety of acts to perform including singing, dancing, playing instruments and displaying their art work. This year, some of the students collaborated and did small group numbers, which was extra special. The auditorium was filled with the performer's families and friends, as well as a large audience of Centennial students and staff. It was a great morning!
Langston Hughes Talent Showcase
On Thursday, May 16th, The CBI students at Langston Hughes High were very excited to present their 2nd annual Showcase. With guidance, the students made their own musical choices, and performed individually, and in small groups, as they sang, danced, and played instruments. Even some of the CBI staff got into the act! Talent abounds at LHHS!
UGA School of Music Convocation
On May 9th, Amber Weldon-Stephens was invited to be the guest speaker for the University of Georgia's School of Music Convocation celebrating all the recent UGA School of Music graduates. This was a huge honor and speaks to Amber's many years of service within various UGA programs. Congrats to all the music graduates and our fearless leader for representing music therapy!
Last week, North and South Fulton County held their annual Special Olympic events. On Monday May 6th, all South County Fulton Schools with participants gathered at Langston Hughes High School. On Thursday May 9th, North County did the same at Centennial High School. It was a great time of celebration and reunion between many current and old friends.
A few different news stations covered a story about a little girl named Harper who born with severe spina bifida which make walking a challenge. However, a doctor at John Hopkin's All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg found the perfect thing to motivate Harper to help her learn to walk - the Baby Shark" song. This is a wonderful story about the motivating power of client-preferred music. The video to the news story is linked above.
On April 26th at their monthly meeting, the music therapy team celebrated Brittany Taylor-Stewart who is expecting a future addition to her family in June 2019. The baby shower was Harry Potter themed and started off our meeting before an in-depth discussion about music therapy assessment. See below for some fun pictures from the afternoon.
Bunny Hopping into Spring
Missy Worden, a music therapist on our team says, "I can't go into Spring without teaching the Bunny Hop with some of my little folks. I love it because it not only gets them practicing their skills of jumping with 2 feet, it also hits on sequencing, locomotor movement, following verbal directives, and even tolerating tactile input (from peers!)"
Check out a sweet video below of her special needs preschool participating in this intervention at Heard's Ferry Elementary.