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Music Therapy Keynote Wows NIH Rehabilitation Summit

May 31, 2016 10:18 AM

Music Therapy Keynote Wows NIH Rehabilitation Summit

SS-NIH1“The Same Sky Project,” a dynamic production by an ensemble of teens and young adults with a variety of “life challenges” was an “out of the box” keynote address for the two-day National Institutes of Health (NIH) summit, “Rehabilitation Research at NIH: Moving the Field Forward.”  These original songs were derived from music therapy sessions at “A Place to Be: Where Music Meets Therapy.”  Introduced by Francis Collins, MD, PhD, the Director of NIH, the “Same Sky Project” performers relayed their lived experiences with their disabilities including, for example, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, severe stuttering, traumatic brain injury, and multiple medical conditions.  Over 400 rehabilitation scholars, researchers, and educators, including physicians, physiatrists, psychiatrists, psychologists, technology experts, rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists, and physical therapists, who were gathered to discuss and debate future research priorities, tweeted praise for the presentation and were brought to their feet for a standing ovation at the end. This production put music therapy on the radar of attendees and served as a catalyst for questions about research and reimbursement in music therapy and training of music therapists. Executive Director, Dr. Andi Farbman, was on hand to respond to questions and provide follow-up contacts and referrals.

SS-NIH3The performance was followed by a panel consisting of one of the performers, who is a woman with cerebral palsy, four parents, and the organization’s co-founders, Tom Sweitzer, MT-BC, and Kim Tapper, PCC, CPCC. The client member of the panel asked attendees to “see us as we are—not just our disabilities.” The parents agreed that stability of physical conditions is not the end of rehabilitation; rather, that social and emotional concerns are paramount, as well as quality of life issues.

Nearly all the conference presenters throughout the first day made reference to what they had learned from the performers and panelists as well. Kudos to all involved with the “Same Sky Project” for promoting such a position message and highlighting the power of music therapy!

If this sounds familiar to you, it is because a smaller group of the “Same Sky Project” troupe performed at the opening session of the 2015 AMTA annual meeting.  You can check out photos of the 2015 AMTA conference and find more Same Sky performers on the AMTA Facebook page. “The Same Sky Project” has had an impact on over 25,000 school children in Loudoun County, Virginia, and is looking to expand their reach across the country. 

NIH2Click on this link for a copy of the Fact Sheet prepared for this important summit by AMTA.

For more information about the NIH Rehabilitation Research meeting, including its agenda and meeting materials, please go to:



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