Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Yesterday, my colleague Karla and I provided music for the grand opening of ComForCare here in Vancouver.  This company specializes in in-home care for seniors and the owners, Debi and Randy, are lovely, caring people.  We sang and played for 2 hours and got the chance to talk music therapy to 5 new people, including several massage therapists from Good Life Therapeutic Massage in Vancouver.  They joined us on the egg shakers and in a little dancing!  Awesome!

7 Days to Better Brain Power with Music! - Day 2

So Day 1 talked about listening to your favorite music.  Have you spent some time finding some great music to load onto your iPod?  While I was working yesterday, I turned on Pandora Radio to the choral music channel and listened to the glorious voices sing great choral works. It was so uplifting to hear the sounds I love and I found myself singing along and having a wonderful time  . . and getting a lot done, too!

So what's next?  Here's another way to boost your brain power through music:

2.       Learn to play a musical instrument.  
You’re never too old, or young, really, to learn a new instrument.  And doing so is tremendously beneficial to the brain.  Why? Because learning something new increases the “plasticity” of the brain
What?  Is my brain plastic?  No, it means that the brain continues to be able to learn new things as it ages, and can even regain lost use after damage caused by disease or injury.
We used to think the brain was pretty well set after childhood, but recent brain research shows the brain continues to change and adapt into adulthood.  We now know the brain has enormous capacity and learning an instrument as an adult is not only possible, but may greatly enhance your cognitive abilities!  Call that guitar teacher whose business card you tucked away in a drawer – now is the time to dust off that 6-string and strum away!  I learned guitar after turning 50, so if I can do it, you certainly can.

Monday, June 27, 2011

7 Days to Better Brain Power with Music!

Music boosts brain power! -- Over the next seven days, I will share with you an idea each day for using music to do just that.  These are simple, enjoyable ways to add music to your life while helping your brain function better and helping you feel better ~

Day One -- Listen to music you like

Everybody likes music, but our musical tastes are as different as we are.  Some of us love country, while others prefer the latest tunes on Z100.  Or do you love Beethoven?  Perhaps you prefer the music of your native culture, or maybe Mozart is your cup of tea.  Whatever you like best, the fact that you like the music has a psychological effect on your brain.  When you engage in activities you like, you tend to become more relaxed, happy and content.  Happiness has a positive effect on illness and disease, and music is a major facilitator for creating happy thoughts.  This is caused by a boost in the levels of serotonin in the brain brought about by engaging in a pleasant activity such as listening to music that you prefer.

Similarly, when you listen to music you like, there may be an instant elevation in the mood.  Or, depending on what music you choose, music can calm your nerves and induce relaxation.  Music can also evoke pleasant memories, such as your high school days or dancing with your sweetheart.  So choose the music you like best, or experiment with new genres to expand your preferences, and enjoy!


So I was at a party yesterday and someone said, "So what exactly does a music therapist do?"  I love it!  Just the intro I needed to add some more people to my list.  So I talked to Julie and her husband Philip about music therapy and had a lively discussion about how different types of music can be used to create different types of environments.  Philip said he uses Bach when he needs to be analytical, and Charles Ives to bring out creativity.

I also ran into a former Kindermusik family and talked to them about my new career, so that adds 4 more, in addition to someone who called me asking about what I do because she was interested in finding out how she could become an MT.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The beat goes on: Percussionist finds his way back

"When I'm playing music, I forget that I'm in a wheelchair."

Check out this article about an amazing man who, 10 years after a serious car accident which broke his neck and left him paralyzed, earned a degree in music education from University of Texas El Paso.  He used his favorite music to encourage himself to get through his rehabilitative workouts, spurring him to realize the importance of music in his life.  He studied percussion, using adaptive mallets and drumsticks to play snare drum, steel, drum, and marimba.  This amazing young man graduated from UTEP this past May, and reminds us all of the healing power of music!

Here is the article in its entirety:

Summer Stuff for Kids

Fort Vancouver Regional Library District's newest early learning offering is, of course, the beautiful new downtown library located on Evergreen and C Street.  A 4,000 square foot space on the third floor is dedicated to early learners.  Opening July 17, this state of the art center for preschoolers is a must do on your journey this summer. 

These camps lean toward older children, however, these are excellent camps and experiences for children that love science. 
Reading programs for preteens and teens are available.  
 360-695-1566 / 866-546-2707

Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m., movies will be $1
Beginning June 21 through August 25 Regal will feature a 10 a.m. movie on the above promotional days.  Go to the Vancouver Family Magazine website ( to check out the movies for the summer.  Print the schedule out and post with all the other refrigerator art.


Don't forget the Oregon Zoo, swimming, skipping rocks on the water and sitting around a camp fire at night.  Get out there and have some fun with your children!

SELF's website is

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Another 16 people heard about music therapy today at our drum circle.  The circle was attended by fellow music therapists, church members and friends.  We drummed and played tone chimes and finished with the "heartbeat pass." The hour went by too fast!

First Day of Summer Drum Circle

Many thanks to all who participated in our First Day of Summer at Church of the Good Shepherd in Vancouver, WA!  The weather was perfect ~
Many thanks also to our friends at
Beacock Music in Vancouver, WA, 
and Earthtones Music Therapy Services for lending us their drums 
Also to fellow music therapists Lisa and Karla for lending us drums.  What a great way to greet summer ~


At our dinner break between rehearsals on Saturday, several members of Bravo Vancouver Chorale and I discussed music therapy in Clark County -- We had a very fun concert with the lovely Melissa Manchester at the Newmark Theater ~ She sang "Don't Cry Out Loud," "Through the Eyes of Love," "Midnight Blue," and so many more great songs.  We joined her on "Whenever I Call You Friend," "Just You  and I," and "A Mother's Prayer."  What a thrill!

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Day of Summer Drum Circle

Please join me on the first day of summer for a drum circle!

Good Shepherd Church
805 SE Ellsworth Rd.
Vancouver, WA

6:00 pm

Bring a drum or use one of mine!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I have added another 28 Clark County residents to my list of people who have heard from me about music therapy . ..  including people who work with the elderly in our community and in mental health services.  Some of my new acquaintances participated in a drum circle, which was lots of fun, and many reported feeling less stressed, more energized and happier after the circle!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Early Childhood Care is Critical to a Child's Future

In the first three years of life, a large part of the brain's architecture is formed.  As much as 90% of brain development occurs in the first three to five years.
So what happens if children don't get quality education and care during these formative years?  At-risk children are:
25% are more likely to drop out of school
40% are more likely to become a teen parent
50% are more likely to be placed in special education services
60% are more likely to never attend college
70% are more likely to be arrested for a violent crime
These shocking statistics are quoted in SELF's (Support for Early Learning and Families) brochure and can be found at 
Check it out!

Friday, June 10, 2011


One more!  I talked to a wonderful autism behavior specialist today - she does great work with children on the spectrum.  Vancouver is fortunate to have her!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


My good friend Kathy invited me to a wonderful event for SELF (support for early learning) at the yet-to-be-opened beautiful Ft. Vancouver Regional Library at Evergreen and C Streets. We got a tour of the early learning section of the library, met the incredible designer of the interactive play structures, and did some networking.  I met 9 librarians, pediatricians, philanthropists and other lovely people involved with early childhood.  I also met with the owner of a new business, Comforcare, and talked to her about music therapy. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Music Therapy: It's All About the Brain

As a music therapy student at Marylhurst, I was introduced to the work of Dr. Dale Taylor, an MT-BC,  researcher and expert in the field of biomedical music therapy.  Dr. Taylor says that the work of music therapy takes place in the human brain, and is targeted at changing how the brain functions.

An example of this is the use of music in a hospital setting.  Music therapy is widely used to decrease pain perception in patients by raising the threshold of pain stimuli that travel to the somatosensory areas of the patient's brain.

Dr Taylor's book, Biomedical Foundations of Music as Therapy says the theory of biomedical music therapy is based on the following assumptions:

1 - The brain is the center of control for the human organism
2 - Music is processed by and through the brain after which it affects us in a number of ways
3 - Music can have a positive effect on the body's hormonal and neural functioning, and can have a positive impact on the regenerative and immune functioning of the body. 

More on this fascinating topic to come!


12 new Legacy Salmon Creek volunteers and 2 volunteer coordinators have now heard about music therapy.  As I introduced myself and said what I do, I heard an audible, "Oh, cool!" and "Mmmm!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Lyle, Carl, and a group of counselors working in bereavement now know about music therapy.  I am always amazed by the response I get when talking about the power of music to heal. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Arts Groups Participate in "Music For All"

As reported in the Oregonian today, a number of Portland/Vancouver area performing arts organizations have made available inexpensive $5 tickets to their events.  This pilot program began in January 2011 and has exceeded expectations! 

Here's a quote from the article:
"Some days when you're searching for work, you get told no, no, no," said (an unemployed patron). "It can get disillusioning. Listening to the music lifted me up out of my burden. I felt swept away."
The pilot program, "Music for All," is aimed at people with Oregon Trail Cards using the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly the Food Stamp Program. Participating groups included the Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre and nine others.

The program proved so popular -- 1,410 people bought tickets-- organizers plan to bring it back in the fall.


Robin and I spoke at length on Friday about music therapy and children with special needs. 

Another interesting encounter was with the young man who installed my new induction oven -- when I mentioned that I am a music therapist, he said, "Music kept me out of trouble!"  He shared with me that he was a drummer, and keeping up with his music during adolescence kept him from having too  much time on his hands to get into some of the troublesome things some of his peers were getting into at that age.  He believes the gift of music has helped him become who he is today.  Success!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Arts and Aging in Clark County

Plans are underway to create a studio dedicated to serving Clark County's elders in a new, innovative way!  I can't divulge all the details yet, but art, drama, dance, and music therapy will be offered for clients with dementia and their care partners and family members.  I am so excited to be on the ground floor of this amazing offering! More to come as plans are finalized  . . . .

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What is Music Therapy Anyway?

I get this question all the time ~ what is music therapy?
Here is a wonderful answer to that question from Ronna Kaplan, president of the American Music Therapy Association:
Thanks to Kimberly Sena Moore and Kat Fulton for tweeting this article!