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News From the Nominating Committee - Question #4

November 2, 2015 02:03 PM
To give members the opportunity to interact with the candidates for the office of President Elect and Vice President Elect, the Nominating Committee is pilot testing a project whereby a question and candidates’ responses are posted on the website. About every two weeks the Nominating Committee will post a question (selected from the pool of questions members submit) and responses. We invite you to review the following and to submit your questions for the candidates to Piper Laird, at: Please indicate whether your question is for the President Elect candidates, the Vice President Elect candidates, or for both. Questions and responses will remain on the website until after the election.

Candidates for Vice-President Elect

Question 4: “What do you see as the learning needs of music therapists and what are some of the ideas you have about how those needs can be met in the context of an annual gathering?”

Tina Haynes, LCAT, MT-BC:

In my professional opinion, there are three main areas of focus which are vitally important to the 21st century music therapist:  research, technology, and entrepreneurship/employment opportunities. 

I propose a new creative experience for the conference attendee: the learning mall.  Each mall would have learning kiosks, or tables/booths comprised of experts in a particular topic related to the area of focus.  For example, a research mall may have specific booths for research design, evaluation tools, statistics, or grant sources.  The young clinician wishing to pursue a research project at their facility comes to the research mall and looks for the booth dedicated to answering the particular aspect of the project in which assistance is needed.  Or a therapist already engaged in a research project may need help with a summary or discussion. This concept could provide an individualized or personalized learning experience for the therapist. There could be a single mall each year specializing on one topic, or there could be several malls.  A learning mall could be large and comprehensive; covering many facets of a topic, or it could be intensive and focused on a “hot topic”, i.e. keyboard technology.  And certainly, membership in AMTA could include the opportunity to propose a topic for a conference learning mall! 

Kristen O’Grady, MA, LCAT, MT-BC:

Without fail, I repeatedly hear music therapists at conference say how much being present in a community of music therapists reinvigorates and energizes them. It is clear to me that our physical presence with one another is of paramount importance to sustain ourselves in our work. In order to meet this expressed need, we need to challenge ourselves to continue to seek out opportunities to make our annual conference as affordable as possible in order to provide this experience for those who desire to be present. Affordability will always be a challenge, especially within our daily lives of rising costs and responsibilities, matched with the fiscal health of our organization. The challenge makes it no less important to address, as members have made it clear that their desire to participate is often hampered by their financial ability to do so.

A second area that I would like to address is the provision of a greater number of advanced practice topics through both concurrent sessions and CMTEs. There is a clear need to provide opportunities for seasoned clinicians to dialogue at a level that deepens their knowledge base. As we know, longevity in this field is challenging. In order to positively affect change and sustain clinicians who have moved deeper into their practice, we need to consider and support these specialized learning needs.

Candidates for President-Elect

Question 4: “As a leader of AMTA, what actions could be taken that would lead to a greater awareness of the music therapy profession?”

Amber Weldon-Stephens, EdS, MEd, LPMT, MT-BC:

For almost 30 years, I have defined and passionately defended what I do every day. Since serving as Local Chair for the 2011 AMTA conference, the theme—Advocacy, Therapy, & Leadership—has driven my sense of what is necessary to move our profession forward. Every music therapist must, at some point, become an advocate for this profession and assume some form of leadership to improve services within their sphere of influence, while continually delivering only the highest quality music therapy to clients.

As Program Chair for the 2015 national conference, I have built on this understanding by developing the first AMTA Leadership Academy. Our field’s leaders will be sharing their various leadership journeys: from self-analysis of their own leadership skills to their local, state, regional and national involvements. This is one small piece of what “greater awareness” looks like for music therapists. In addition, I will be co-presenting a Leadership Session for students and new professionals which aims to assist them in identifying their personal leadership styles and how these best align with their roles as music therapists. It is my hope that each attendee will realize the future of music therapy lies in their hands and relies on their abilities to advocate for client services, increase their therapeutic skills, and be emboldened as leaders! This work must continue to ensure that future music therapists are well equipped to foster the increased awareness crucial to our profession’s continued success.

Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, MA, MT-BC:

Awareness of music therapy is a high priority. We all do so much. From social media music therapy sites, to news stories about music therapy, to state task-forces advocating legislatures, to presentations for the military and NIH about the benefits of music therapy, to scholarly publications about music therapy benefits, to presentations at local, regional, national, and international conferences, all of us, AMTA members, leaders, and national office staff, along with CBMT are working to raise the awareness about our profession.

Despite all of this, there needs to be more awareness of music therapy for us to grow and bring our services to those in need. As a leader, I know we cannot ask more from our members financially. Similarly, our national office staff is stretched so thin, we cannot ask them to do more. Instead, we need to do two things: add more revenue streams from outside the membership and hire additional staff. First, we need to increase our revenue streams through development and marketing. This revenue can then support additional national office staff who can dedicate their time on the mission of AMTA, “to advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy and increase access to quality music therapy services in a rapidly changing world.” Through additional development, public relations, government relations, and marketing staff, AMTA will increase awareness, enhance legislation, protect our jobs, increase the public's’ understanding of the differences between music therapists and music practitioners and other therapists, and to bring additional funds to AMTA.



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