Connecting & Wiring

A half of the first month has ALREADY been passed. One of my resolutions this year is to keep writing blog posts more regularly.  With the big life-change event coming up soon with our baby’s arrival, I will try my best to stick with my promise!!!

January is a special month for the field of music therapy and MT bloggers– yes, it is the Social Media Advocacy Month to spread our love and passion = music therapy through social media like blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc.  And you may have already known that Ben Folds (@BenFolds) is following all music therapy twitters #FollowMTWeek!  This is AWESOME!

Introduction: Advocacy –> Recognition –> Access

Since 2005, the American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists have collaborated on a State Recognition Operational Plan. The primary purpose of this plan is to get music therapy and our MT-BC credential recognized by individual states so that citizens can more easily access our services. The AMTA Government Relations staff and CBMT Regulatory Affairs staff provide guidance and technical support to state task forces throughout the country as they work towards state recognition. To date, their work has resulted in over 35 active state task forces, 2 licensure bills passed in 2011, 1 licensure bill passed in 2012, and an estimated 7 bills being filed in 2013 that seek to create either title protection or a licensure for music therapy. This month, our focus is on YOU and on getting you excited about advocacy.

Wonderful stores and facts have been shared by fellow MT bloggers about how music therapy connects one another. Putting a neurologic music therapist hat all day long, here is the one word instantly comes to my mind when I think of “connecting”… synapse.

UntitledSynapse happens when one neuron (or nerve cell) passes an electrical or chemical signal to another neuron in the nervous system.  So, neurons “fire” to “wire” together = neural connections!

So why do I talk about synapse in relation to music therapy advocacy?

1. Shared & Extended neural networks

The brain has certain cortical pathways that consist of different areas of the brain dedicated to specific functions.  Certainly, it has been debated that there are the areas of the brain that are dedicated to music processing (Perez & Zatorre, 2005). But research findings indicate that those areas are not only for music processing– they are also engaging in NON-musical functions such as speech, attention, executive functions, memory, and more.  It means that those areas of the brain are “shared”, implying music can be an effective stimuli for facilitating new neural connections despite the damage in the area to affect non-musical functions. Check out these posts for more details:

The Music-Speech-Rehab Connection by Your Musical Self (Psychology Today)

Shared Networks in Perception of Song and Speech by Music Therapy Research Blog

And not only there are shared neural networks, there are also “extended” networks through musical processing (Brown, Martinez, & Parsons, 2006; Ozdemir, Norton, Schlaug, 2006).

2. Connecting the dots in people’s live through NMT

How do all these mean clinically? My music therapy clinical interactions are based on the use of neurologic music therapy (NMT) interventions. In neurorehabilitation setting, NMT interventions are applied to facilitate the positive change in the brain after an injury (or trauma) for regaining functional skills that may have been damaged (Thaut, 2005). At the neural level, re-wiring neural dots together for the better.

In addition to the moving stories music therapists and people who have been introduced to music therapy share on the effect of music therapy, the growing body of research literature in music and neuroscience research will also help to connect the “dots” for music therapy advocacy work by providing objective explanations why music therapy works.

3. Music Therapy Advocacy in Action!

In fact, there was a great news this week in Colorado that music therapy is included in the new medical treatment guidelines for treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury.These guidelines are put together by the Division of Worker’s Compensation for the State of Colorado.

This is a huge accomplishment for gaining MT recognition in our state. A big thank-you to Sarah Thompson, MM, MT-BC, NMT-Fellow for her persistent effort to make this happen!  Sarah “connected” all pieces together to present music therapy as a viable therapy option for people with TBI. Visit her blog to read about more details.



Brown, S., Martinez, M. J., & Parsons, L. M. (2006). Music and language side by side in the brain: A PET study of the generation of melodies and sentences. European Journal of Neuroscience, 23(10), 2791-2803.

LaGasse, B (2010). Shared Networks in Perception of Song and Speech. Music Therapy Research Blog.

Moore, K. S. (2011). The Music-Speech-Rehab Connection. Psychology Today – Your musical self.

Ozdemir, E., Norton, A., and Schlaug, G. (2006). Shared and distinct neural correlates of singing and speaking. NeuroImage, 33, 628-635.

Peretz, I. and Zattore, R. J. (2005). Brain organization for music processing. Annual Review of Psychology, 56, 89-114.

Thaut, M. H. (2005). Rhythm, Music and the Brain. Routledge.

Thompson, S. (2013). Guide to Music Therapy in the new Traumatic Brain Injury Medical Treatment Guidelines. Rehabilitative Rhythms Blog.

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