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Advancing the Profession in Historic Kennedy Center Event

June 5, 2017 11:22 AM
Press Release
American Music Therapy Association
Silver Spring, MD


NIH, Kennedy Center, NEA Acclaim Music Therapy Science and Practice

“I can honestly say, music therapy saved my life.”
- Forrest S. Allen

Audience members do not typically attend events at the Kennedy Center, America’s premiere cultural stage in the nation’s capital, to learn about people with traumatic brain injury, cancer, or autism, and hear their stories of recovery, resilience, or quality of life. On June 2nd and 3rd, however, music therapy clients, family members, music therapists, music therapy researchers, biologists, physicians, neuroscientists, and preeminent musicians convened to explore the intersection of music therapy, music, and the mind.

Sound Health Music and the Mind Concert - Image by Angie ElkinsLeft photo: Sound Health Music and the Mind Concert - Image by Angie Elkins

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was honored to collaborate with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Kennedy Center, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in an innovative partnership titled, "Sound Health: Music and the Mind."  An unparalleled concert with the National Symphony Orchestra, led by conductor Edwin Outwater, alongside renowned neuroscientists Dr. Daniel Levitin, Dr. Nina Kraus, Dr. Charles Limb, as well as musician Ben Folds, singer/actor Jussie Smollett, and, the incomparable soprano, Renée Fleming, who is artist ambassador for the Kennedy Center, kicked off the weekend on June 2nd.

The NSO concert was followed by a series of four workshops on June 3rd at the Kennedy Center. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, in introducing the workshop series, underscored the importance of research collaborations between neuroscientists and music therapists, and Renée Fleming highlighted the far-reaching impact of music therapy.

Presenters Onstage for Breakthroughs with Music Therapy - Images by Tracey SalazarRight photo: Presenters Onstage for Breakthroughs with Music Therapy - Image by Tracey Salazar

An interactive presentation, curated by Dr. Sheri Robb titled, "Breakthroughs in Music Therapy: Recovery, Resilience, and Quality of Life," showcased first-hand experiences of clients, caregivers, and board certified music therapists to support recovery, resilience, and quality life through music therapy interventions. The science underpinning these experiences was highlighted by Drs. Sheri Robb, Deforia Lane, Wendy Magee, and Blythe LaGasse.

AMTA applauds it's music therapy members for their contributions as well as the scores of music therapists on stage, on screen, and off-stage who contributed to casting a light on the benefits of evidence-based music therapy interventions. Music therapists CJ Shiloh and Tom Sweitzer brought to life their clinical work on stage. Clips from "Music Got Me Here," a film by Susan Koch, documenting the powerful healing potential of music therapy, were unveiled along with the work of AMTA clinical professionals with clients and families who contributed their stories. The musical improvisations of composer, Ben Folds, an advocate of music therapy, wove the stories together and facilitated audience participation.  

Opera superstar RenĂ©e Fleming, NIH Director Dr. Frances Collins and former Surgeon Dr. General Vivek Murthy talked about the importance and positive future of music therapy. - Image by Tracey SalazarLeft photo: Opera Superstar Renée Fleming, NIH Director Dr. Frances Collins and Former Surgeon Dr. General Vivek Murthy Talked About the Importance and Positive Future of Music Therapy. - Image by Tracey Salazar

The three other workshops included “Music and Childhood Development,” “Creative Aging,” and “Jazz, Creativity, and the Brain.” Explore the Sound Health Blog and the Kennedy Center’s website for more details

In addition to the weekend events at the Kennedy Center, a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, co-authored by Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH, and opera singer Renée Fleming, described the “Sound Health: Music and the Mind” initiative. As these esteemed authors aptly noted, music therapists have generated evidence for the therapeutic effects of active engagement with music for an ever-growing list of indications. Future goals are now to connect the effects of music on the brain with mechanistic insights from biomarkers and other approaches” to better understand “how music therapy interventions may be working and enhance their efficacy and generalizability.(JAMA. Published online June 2, 2017. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7423)

AMTA looks forward to building partnerships with Dr. Collins and the NIH, as well as artist- advocates Renée Fleming and Ben Folds, to fulfill our mission to “advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy and increase access to quality music therapy services.”

Dr. Sheri Robb Presents "Breakthroughs with Music Therapy: Recovery, Resilience, Quality of Life," Aided by Musician Ben Folds. - Image by Tracey Salazar
Above photo: Dr. Sheri Robb Presents "Breakthroughs with Music Therapy:
Recovery, Resilience, Quality of Life," Aided by Musician Ben Folds. - Image by Tracey Salazar

For more information:
American Music Therapy Association
Al Bumanis, Director of Communications


Sound Health: Music and the Mind was possible thanks to the generous support of The Music Man Foundation, the Orlebeke Foundation, Clark Charitable Foundation, Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Dr. Rickel of the Annette Urso Rickel Foundation in association with the Kennedy Center, National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Institutes of Health.

Images by Tracey Salazar