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Guidance for Music Listening Programs

Workgroup Members:

  • Emily Christensen
  • Regina Dennis
  • Leslie Henry
  • Erin Spring
  • Dale Taylor
  • Barbara Reuer
For more information contact Jennifer Geiger,

AMTA E-course: Personalized Music Listening & Music Therapy


In an effort to identify professional boundaries and promote the benefits of music listening in older adults, a panel presentation was made at the 2014 AMTA conference in Louisville, KY on Music & MemorySM. The panel was moderated by Jennifer Geiger, AMTA President Elect, and featured Dan Cohen, the founder of Music & MemorySM; Dr. Connie Tomaino, a member of Music & MemorySM leadership; Erin Spring, Neurologic Music Therapist from Ohio; and Leslie Henry, co-chair of the AMTA Professional Advocacy Committee.

The audience of AMTA members asked a myriad of questions and expressed a variety of needs in the discussion that followed the presentations of the panel members. In response, President Amy Furman appointed an AMTA work group and charged its members with providing information and resources for music therapists who encounter uses of the Music & MemorySM program in facilities in their area. A summary of work group outcomes over the last year is presented here.

Music Playlists Now Added to Advance Care Planning

After two years of careful negotiations, renegotiations, presentations, interviews, drafts and redrafts, there is now a new Advance Music Planning questionnaire item that has been accepted by the Wisconsin Medical Society's Honoring Choices Wisconsin program for use by Advance Care Planning facilitators in drawing up Advance Directives. Plans are to start distributing the item, first as an option, and later as part of the standard AD questionnaire.

Dr. Dale Taylor wrote the music playlist item and its rationale, gave presentations to WMS and other stakeholders on the need for Advance Music Planning, obtained AMTA Presidential and Music & Memory Work Group approval for item and rationale content, and conducted negotiations with HCW leaders and others to gain final approval for distribution.

HCW has notified Dr. Taylor that the Wisconsin Medical Society’s web manager uploaded the Advance Music Planning item to their website and that we have full permission to access and use it as needed. Go to: and select “Advance music planning.” This is a fillable form using Adobe Acrobat Reader and can be printed after selections are entered.  Music therapists working in hospice or other long term care settings are encouraged to access and utilize this resource with individual clients and facility residents.

Dr. Taylor is continuing to work with the WMS to identify ways to monitor use of the new playlist item, help see that it is included in the national Respecting Choices Curriculum, assist in determining that the item is in full compliance with the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization's new Guidelines on Advance Directives for Hospices, and facilitate access to individual playlist information by music therapists and music listening specialists.

Work Group Outcomes Summary

At the June 2015 Mid-Year meeting, the AMTA Board of Directors created an ongoing work group to facilitate acquiring information, providing support to users and their families, and clarifying roles of music therapists where music listening programs are used with older adults.

Fact Sheet Development

  • Music & MemorySM and Music Therapy - fact sheet for use with facilities and clients
  • Music & MemorySM Primer for Music Therapists - A PowerPoint presentation created especially for the purpose of informing music therapists about the Music & MemorySM program.  While intending to be read by individuals, it can be modified for presentation purposes.
  • FAQs – Frequently asked questions by Music Therapists regarding the Music & MemorySM program.

Available Video Resources

Resource Articles

Websites for Additional Information

New Resources Developed for AMTA Members

These are samples for use/altering as appropriate for your situation/music listening program.

All Resources in Chart Form

For your convenience, the entire body of resources and information provided above is listed here in this easy to read chart.

Category Resource Brief Description Link
Videos 2012 video "The More Music, The Better" AMTA's initial response to the viral "Henry" video
  The "Henry" video The 2012 viral video showing an individual's response to personalized music as played on an iPod
  "Alive Inside" film trailer The website for the documentary film, "Alive Inside"
  2015 video "What does the Music & Memory Program Mean for MT-BCs?" Features Erin Spring, MM, MT-BC at's "Mindstorm Monday"
  2015 video "For Seniors, Music Brings Back Memories" Interview with Regina Dennis, MT-BC, on the use of the Music & Memory program at Jewish Senior Life in New York
Articles “Music Therapy for Individuals with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias,” An article by Ronna Kaplan for The Huffington Post 8/8/12 discussing the "Henry" video clip
  “’Alive Inside’ Celebrates the Healing Power of Music,” Huffington Post article about the film "Alive Inside" and Dan Cohen from 7/10/14
  "How AMTA and Music Therapy Relate to the Film 'Alive Inside'" Posted at the AMTA website on 9/3/14 as a status report for members
  “AMTA Meets with Music & Memory” Posted at the AMTA website on 11/25/14 on the meeting between AMTA Executive Director Andrea Farbman and Music & Memory Founder, Dan Cohen
  "Creating Effective Music Listening Opportunities" Resource created by staff at Clements-Cortes, Pearson & Chang
  “‘Music is our Weapon’ is proving its name by battling Alzheimer’s” Story from 5/22/15 about a group of young adults using their own iPod program in facilities
  “Evidence-Based Guideline: Individualized Music for Persons with Dementia (5th Edition)” By Linda A. Gerdner (1996, revised 2013)
Websites Music & MemorySM Website On this website, music therapists are invited to sign up for Dan Cohen's newsletter, NOTEworthy, to foster connections
  New York State Department of Health Individualized Music Intervention program with forms for goals, benefits and desired outcomes
Fact Sheets Fact Sheet: Music & MemorySM and Music Therapy A fact sheet for use with facilities and clients

  Music & MemorySM Primer for Music Therapists A PowerPoint presentation created especially for the purpose of informing music therapists about the Music & MemorySM program

  FAQs Questions from music therapists, facility staf and family members regarding the Music & MemorySM program

AMTA Member Resources    

Note: the following resources are designed for music therapists and are made available as a benefit of current membership in the American Music Therapy Association: please log in with your user name and password to access the following links:

  Bibliography of Selected Literature: Music Listening for Older Adults 53 sources compiled by Leslie Henry and Emily Christensen
  Assessment Procedure* Guidelines for assessing potential users of a music listening program
  Sample Chart Review* First step of the assessment procedure
  Music Preferences Interview* Second step of the assessment procedure
  Music Preferences Examples* Third step of the assessment procedure, which will assist with playlist creation
  Music Listening Plan of Care* After playlist creation, intended uses of the music listening program are indicated here
  IDT Roles & Responsibilities* Where the interdisciplinary team comes into play and how each person is integral in providing the music listening intervention.
  Infection Control Procedure* Steps to take to ensure the cleanliness of the equipment being used
  Inventory Checklist* A list of items needed for a music listening program for implementation success
  Guidelines for Safe Music Listening General information for music consumers and their caregivers




*With thanks to Regina Dennis, Music Therapist at Jewish Senior Life and Erin Spring, Neurologic Music Therapist and Owner at Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC for sharing of their documents and expertise in the creation of these resources.

Sincere appreciation to Dr. Alicia Clair, AMTA President Amy Furman, AMTA President Elect Jennifer Geiger and AMTA Executive Director Dr. Andrea Farbman for their time and expertise in the development of this resource package.