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Recommended Best Practices for Collaborations with “Music & Memory” Programs

June 20, 2015 08:24 PM

AMTA Celebrates Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month by Recommending Best Practices for Collaborations with “Music & Memory” Programs

The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is partnering with the “Music & Memory” organization to expand music listening programs for elders and those with Alzheimer’s disease, and to clarify when a professional music therapist is needed.  Music Therapists around the country are incorporating “Music & Memory” programs into established clinical music therapy programs.  Many Board Certified Music Therapists (MT-BCs) already have music listening programs in place.  AMTA provides referrals free-of-charge to professional music therapists whose specialty is working with those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias: write or call (301) 589-3300.

Since the premiere of the documentary, “Alive Inside: the Story of the Music & Memory Program,” the nation has been deeply impacted by the portrayal of the response to music listening by those with Alzheimer’s and their families. As music therapists, the poignant reactions of elders to preferred music is something we see on a regular basis. The goal of founder, Dan Cohen, is to put preferred music in the hands of everybody who wants it. Proponents of the program increase daily.

Music Therapists often design playlists, or even mixed CDs (for those who still have CD players!), in consultation with clients and families for therapeutic use when a music therapist is not present. The Music & Memory program has developed a method for determining and using playlists. The Music & Memory training program puts knowledge for using recorded music with those who have dementia into the hands of their caregivers or loved ones.

As an MT-BC, are you interested in using the “Music & Memory” program with your clients? Have you been approached by a facility to implement the program? Here are some tips for you.

If you are asked by your facility administrators to consider adding the Music & Memory program, or if you want to facilitate families’ use, here are some suggestions for the best success:

  1. Participate in the Music & Memory training along with the staff at the facility where the program will be implemented (suggested staff to include in the training are IT professionals, CNA’s, Activities staff, volunteers).
  2. Develop an assessment to determine music preferences (Interviews with family members and staff may be helpful).
  3. Develop criteria for referring clients to a Board Certified Music Therapist, such as increased agitation.
  4. Develop a plan for regular evaluation for beneficial as well as deleterious outcomes.
  5. Develop a plan of care for use of the iPod to include in the residents’ Care Plan.
  6. Determine steps for use and care of iPods (infection control, equipment maintenance, security)
  7. Develop a plan to fund the program after determining how many iPods will be needed.  If there are multiple care units in the facility, consider color-coding iPods for each unit.  (Apple will engrave your iPods; you can have them numbered as well for ease of tracking)

AMTA is here to assist you and will be updating resources regularly. Find more resources at and connect with Music & Memory Founder, Dan Cohen, at

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