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Music Therapy Matters Monthly – July 2018

July 13, 2018 10:13 AM

Matters Masthead

July 2018
Building the Future of Music Therapy

Click the links below to read more or – if the settings on your personal device browser don't allow it - go to the AMTA website first, log in with your current member email address and password, and then click the link for this month's issue of Music Therapy Matters Monthly under "Latest News" on the home page or use this link: and select the issue you desire. 

Presidential Perspectives

Weldon-StephensAmberIn this edition of Presidential Perspectives, AMTA President, Amber Weldon-Stephens, details views the decision to maintain the Bachelor’s Level as entry through a variety of lenses. 

As I view the MLE decision with the lens as President of AMTA, I am extremely grateful for the work of our Board, volunteer committee leaders, the members of our Association, and the National Office Staff. I have participated in the discussions and deliberations with the MLE subcommittee since 2014. As Vice President I was asked to serve as the substitute representative for the Southeastern Region where I was the note taker at an MLE retreat, then elected as a facilitator to the subcommittee during my years as President Elect participating in the monthly calls, the Pro Bono Analysis, and the retreat in Rochester NY where I was again a note taker and prepared to take on the role of mediator, if needed. I have also participated in multiple town hall meetings in my own region as well as in other regions while President. I feel we have exercised due diligence with a thorough review of the information and questions surrounding the decision made by the 2018 Board of Directors.

In viewing the MLE decision through the twenty-nine-year lens as the Music Therapy Department Chair and Internship Director for the Fulton County School System in Atlanta, Georgia (a state with a music therapy license), I appreciate the decisions made by the AMTA Board of Directors. Discussions surrounding the topic of master’s level entry have remained prevalent amongst my department (16 music therapists) and numerous interns over the years. This year we will celebrate our 20th year of hosting a National Roster Internship, which has allowed us the opportunity to teach close to 100 interns from across the US with broad differences in skill sets beginning their internship. Since the topic of MLE first came to the national arena, we have been weighing the pros and cons of what the best outcome would look like. I feel the Board of Directors has reached that outcome by identifying the need to strengthen music therapy education and clinical programs as well as supporting efforts nationwide in the area of state recognition of the MT-BC credential and increasing diversity at all levels of our profession.

Through the lens of a mother with two adult children in college, I am relieved by the decisions made by the AMTA Board of Directors. The price of a Bachelor’s Degree is ever-increasing even with scholarships and financial aid. I have three friends and family members who are pursuing degrees in music education and music therapy. They are excited about their future and the knowledge that they will be ready for employment within the next few years. They will enter their chosen profession, i.e., music therapy, ready to make a difference in the lives of their students and clients without an increased debt load, and with options of graduate work at a later date.

As I view the MLE decision as a member of AMTA, I urge everyone to read the MLE Press Release located at and take the time to send thanks to the members of the MLE Subcommittee for their more than five years of work and the body of knowledge they were able to compile and contribute to our profession. I believe this work has already made us stronger and increases our expertise in all areas of education and clinical practice. I applaud the spirited and informed deliberations of all the members of the MLE Subcommittee, the Assembly and the Board of Directors for moving the profession of music therapy forward.

Bachelor’s Degree Affirmed as Entry into the Music Therapy Profession

After exhaustive examination by the Master’s Level Entry (MLE) Subcommittee of the Board of Directors, significant community feedback, and intense deliberation by the AMTA Board of Directors, the Board cited inconclusive direction and fiduciary concern as the primary reasons to not support the Subcommittee recommendation of moving to a master’s level entry by 2030.  However, the Board overwhelmingly supports investigation into music therapy education and clinical training as recommended by the Subcommittee, in order to produce more consistently competent music therapists, resulting in quality music therapy services per the AMTA mission. 

During the six and one half years dedicated to the topic of master’s level entry, the Board exercised due diligence and yet a clear direction is elusive.   Concerns of financial risk tolerance and organizational sustainability repeatedly appeared, also discouraging support of Master’s Level Entry by 2030.

Sincere appreciation goes to the MLE Subcommittee for the productive work and focus since 2012.  Formally begun with the work of the Education and Training Advisory Board in 2010, general discussions on the topic have been ongoing for decades. The 2012-2013 Board of Directors established a subcommittee of the Board, making a commitment to explore the feasibility of a move to Master’s Level Entry.

In those years, town hall- type meetings were held at each of the national and regional conferences annually to facilitate communication on the topic; additional information was received from National Association of Schools of Music and the Certification Board for Music Therapists; two in-person retreats were held; and two comprehensive surveys on the topic were conducted and analyzed. Communication was facilitated with multiple levels of leadership involvement: the Board, the Subcommittee, the Assembly of Delegates, and the membership. Multiple and regular opportunities for input was sought from both professionals and students, members and non-members. Earlier this year, the Final Report of the MLE Subcommittee was posted on the public section of the AMTA website, and additional feedback was sought.  This information was analyzed, and additional information was received by the Board on the legislative impact of such a move.

Future steps will be made by the Annual meeting in November towards the creation of a Commission on the Education and Clinical Training of 21st Century Music Therapists with the purpose of identifying inconsistences and recommending changes. The motion unanimously passed by the Board of Directors states:

Whereas, there is lack of consensus (e.g., among Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee Members and the membership) for a move to Master’s Level Entry;
Whereas, the evidence is inconclusive (e.g., Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee Final Report, two Master’s Level Entry surveys, feedback and analyses from Regional Town Hall/Concurrent Session Meetings, and Master’s Level Entry and State Recognition document) to support a move to Master’s Level Entry;
Whereas, the Board has considered its fiduciary responsibilities and financial risk tolerance for the organization’s sustainability regarding a move to Master’s Level Entry;
Whereas, the overall path (e.g., academic preparation, clinical training, and administrative support) is not sufficiently articulated for a move to Master’s Level Entry; and
Whereas, the Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee has identified academic, clinical, and administrative recommendations;
The Board of Directors moves to create a Commission on the Education and Clinical Training of 21st Century Music Therapists to: identify inconsistencies within degree programs to support clinical practice in a changing world; identify inconsistencies among and between National Roster and University Affiliated Internship programs; recommend changes to enhance current education and clinical training practices; support the ongoing efforts to increase state recognition of the MT-BC credential; and support efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion in the profession.

Please direct any questions or comments to Amber Weldon-Stephens, AMTA President,

For more information on the MLE process, see the menu item under Education & Careers>Education and Clinical Training Information>MLE Considerations.

Journal of Music Therapy Expands & Redefines Editorial Team & Roles: APPLICANTS INVITED BY 7/31/18

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), in response to the impressive growth and expansion of the Journal of Music Therapy, is pleased to announce a change in the journal’s editorial structure and duties. The journal seeks applicants for open positions to join an expanded editorial team. Two job announcements follow in this link for the positions of Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor.  Deadline to Apply is July 31 at 5:00 pm ET. 

Highlights of the Mid-Year Meeting of the AMTA Board of Directors, June 2018

The AMTA Board of Directors met at the Maritime Institute outside of Baltimore, MD for approximately 19 hours during the 2018 Mid-Year meeting, June 22-24. The members of the Transition Committee arrived on June 21st to meet with Karen Schuler, lead consultant with Raffa, regarding the Executive Director search. In addition to conducting the business of the association, we also celebrated our dedicated National Office staff, specifically highlighting Cindy Smith’s 20 years with AMTA.  Click here to read more.

AMTA Nominating Committee Seeks Potential Candidates

The AMTA Nominating Committee is now considering potential candidates to be placed on the slate for the offices of AMTA President Elect and Vice President Elect. The slate will be presented at the AMTA Business meeting in November 2018 and the election will be held in late 2019.  Click here for more information.

OttoDMusic Therapist David Otto Named to Head VA's Recreation Therapy Services

Congratulations to AMTA member and board-certified music therapist, David W. Otto for being named as National Program Director, Recreation Therapy Service for the Veterans Health Administration Office of Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services.  Click here to read more.

Member Benefit Alert:  2 Free AMTA-pro Podcasts

Preventative Models for Children in Limited Resource Communities

Individuals and families in limited-resource communities face real challenges not only in finances but also in opportunities.  In this AMTA-Pro podcast, two of our music therapy colleagues, Elizabeth K Schwartz and Dr. Varvara Pasiali, discuss these complex challenges and ways in which music therapists can focus on helping children move away from stress, insecurity, and dysfunction toward trust, belonging, and opportunities.  Click here to learn more and to access the podcast.

Guide to Clinical Music Therapy Research

In this AMTA-Pro podcast, speakers Dr. Annie Heiderscheit, Dr. Nancy Jackson, and Dr. Kathy Murphy review the steps necessary for creating a preliminary plan for a clinical research study. In this overview of an interactive session presented at the 2017 AMTA conference, the AMTA-Pro podcast speakers provide the groundwork for podcast listeners to begin the process of planning their own clinical research study.  Click here to learn more and to access the podcast.

2018 AMTA ConferenceRegistration Now Open for the 2018 AMTA National Conference

Online registration for the 2018 AMTA Annual Conference is open and there are many ways to register. Click the "Attend a Conference" button for more information. Make your plans now to attend "Music Therapy for a Growing World."  Click here for more information and to register online before rates increase.

National Conference 2018: Global Perspectives Session

The International Relations Committee (IRC) welcomes submissions for consideration for the Global Perspectives Session at the AMTA Conference in November 2018.  The session showcases international music therapy projects, scholarly work, and service opportunities from around the world.  Previous sessions have highlighted both professional and student experiences. 

Due to the volume of submissions we have received in the past, this year’s proposals will include a review by the IRC. Potential presenters can select to participate with a brief oral presentation or a poster presentation.

Please email Melody Schwantes, or Soo Jin Kwoun, with your proposals by August 1.

National Conference 2018: Internship Fair

The National Conference Internship Fair will be held Saturday, November 17th from 8:00 – 9:10 am.Internship Directors who are registered for the conference are invited to take part! Participants will be given poster board space for presentations about their internship sites.  A limited number of round tables will be available for displays and interviews.  More information will be available soon.

Space is limited and sites will not be published in the final program.  To reserve a space, send your name, address, and name of internship site to Jennifer McAfee at  Information must be received by Wednesday, October 3, 2018.

Job Center - A Member Benefit

  • In the past 30 days, AMTA provided 28 referral lists of music therapists.
  • In the past 30 days, AMTA posted 20 new music therapy-related positions.

To see more job opportunities for music therapists, current members can visit the Job Center (from the AMTA website, select Member Resources>Job Center>Job Hotline) and log in with your email address and password.

What to Do If You Are Not a Morning Person

In last month’s edition of Music Therapy Matters, we listed ways to help be more productive during the summer season.  This month, we are looking at the unique ways you can help kick start your mornings.  Here’s what to do if you’re not a morning person.

Embrace the Night

Our culture views morning people as the purveyors of productivity and success, while dismissing night lovers as suffering from some kind of disorder.  But night owls can be as productive (and healthy) as morning larks and tend to have larger social networks.  One study has even suggested that our genes, not our choices, determine our preferred circadian rhythm.

So, consider embracing your natural night owl.  If your job permits, schedule working from home whenever you feel the most productive, and adjust chores, exercise, and family commitments accordingly.

Retrain Your Brain

In our morning-centric world, the 9-to-5 work day is viewed as “normal,” so a night-focused schedule may not be an option.  If you have to rise with the sun, there are practices you can adopt to ease yourself into a new circadian rhythm.

Get Enough Sleep

This seems obvious, but it can by tricky as there’s no one-size-fits-all amount of sleep.  Most working-age adults require between seven and nine hours a night, but the number can vary.  Find out what you need and don’t rack up sleep debt.

Shift Your Schedule Gradually

Do not try to go from night owl to morning lark all at once.  Your body and mind will turn against you in groggy revolt.  If you typically wake up at 10 a.m., move your alarm back to 9:45 a.m. for a week.  Once you acclimate, move it back to 8:30 a.m., and keep going until you reach your desired wake-up time.

Stay Consistent

Go to bed and wake up at the same time very day of the week.  If you yo-yo between different times, your mind and body won’t be able to find a rhythm.  We recommend staying consistent even on weekends (as least until you’ve fully adjusted,) but you also need your time to rest, relax, and socialize, so a cheat night may be worth it.

Exercise and Nap

Exercise will help you adjust to your new schedule, but when to work out depends on you.  Some people find exercising in the morning wakes them up.  Others find working out in the afternoon helps them get to sleep.  Discover what kind of person you are.  Naps provide extra energy that can propel you through an afternoon slump.  But nap judiciously.  Limit naps to about 25 minutes and be sure not to doze too close to bedtime.

Improve Sleep Hygiene

We focus a lot on when we sleep, but we should also be focusing on how we sleep.  Modern environments are very different than the environments our circadian rhythms evolved in, so they present unique challenges to a good night’s rest.

Whether you’re a night owl or morning lark, these tips can help improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Prepare for tomorrow today.  Prepping lunches and outfits prevents mental restlessness from keeping you awake.
  • Skip work or stimulating entertainment just before bed.  Take time to unwind instead. 
  • Silence intermittent sounds such as running dryers and cellphone notifications.
  • Go Goldilocks.  Your room shouldn’t be too hot or cold, and your bed should be comfortable. 
  • Keep a dark room.  Remove LEDs and buy blackout curtains if street lights stream through your windows. 
  • Don’t use screens before bed.  The blue light of TVs, monitors, and cellphones prevents your brain from releasing melatonin, keeping you alert and awake.
  • Don’t use a snooze button.  It wrecks your REM cycle.
  • Eat healthy.  A breakfast like fruit and yogurt will help dissipate morning grogginess.

Adapted from the Washington Post Jobs section, Sunday, May 20, 2018.

Quote of the Month

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand."

– Oprah Winfrey