Stroke Awareness Month

Welcome to Ignite Music Therapy’s May newsletter edition!

Stroke Complications  
Strokes can be a life changing experience and I’m sure many of you know of someone who has had a stroke and have seen the changes that it can bring. After someone has a stroke, a variety of complications may appear. Often times it affects a side of the body and there can be loss of coordination and balance. Strokes also typically affect speech centers in the brain which can cause a variety of issues including slurred speech, lack of pronunciation, and difficulty recalling words. There can also be pain, anxiety, frustration, confusion, depression, and anxiety with this seemingly quick change of overall functioning. In this month’s article I want to focus on just a few of these complications; 1) motor control, 2) cognition, and 3) speech and language.

Benefits of Music Therapy  

There has been a lot of research done to understand the effects music therapy has on an individual who has suffered from a stroke and as mentioned above, the three areas I want to focus on that have shown great progress are motor control, overall brain cognition, and communication skills.


Regain Gross and Fine Motor Control

After a stroke many individuals experience loss of motor control. Through a variety of techniques, music therapy can help to rebuild the strength and coordination that was lost. Some of these techniques include utilizing the ISO-principle (matching where the patient is at – or the movements they are making and gradually altering the music to help elicit smoother and more natural movements), gait training (to help with movements related to walking), and even utilizing instruments to build hand/eye coordination and muscle strength. All three of these techniques have been discussed in past newsletters if you are interested in learning more.

Regain Communication Skills

Speech and communication are other areas that many people experience a change in after a stroke has occurred. Like other complications, communication changes occur because the brain is struggling to communicate with itself. Some areas of the brain can be affected more than others after a stroke and it takes time to build up those neurological pathways again. Music is a great medium in which to build up brain communication because music utilizes all areas of the brain. This is super important to understand because it means that even though one part of the brain might not be working correctly, the music can help build different pathways with areas of the brain that are functioning better so that these skills actually can be rebuilt and the pathways can be re-routed! Music is a very powerful thing, and through training music therapists know exactly what elements of music to change to create the most beneficial experience and progress!

Rebuild Connections in the Brain

As mentioned, music is a truly powerful medium in that it can change how the neural pathways in the brain work and communicate with each other. This concept comes in very handy when trying to understand how music therapy can help with overall brain functioning and cognition skills. After a stroke, patients will often struggle with memory recall, problem solving, and even with maintaining attention. Through music therapy and the concept of reworking how the brain is functioning, these obstacles can be overcome and show great improvement through a variety of interventions. For example, one way memory recall can be improved is by playing familiar songs and leaving parts of phrases out for patients to fill in. You know how you are able to remember all of the words to songs you haven’t heard for 10 years? Similar processing is used in the fill in the blank and other  interventions.

Closing Thoughts

Although I only focused on a few complications that can benefit from music therapy, there are so many other skill areas individuals can make progress in as well. Each person’s experience is different, which also means some interventions will work better than others depending on the individual’s needs. Overall, the potential for progress and growth are worth it.


If you are interested in reading research articles about the benefits of music therapy on individuals who have experienced a stroke, contact us at


Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness Month  
April is Autism Awareness Month! I have worked with many individuals who have a diagnosis of autism and have seen so much growth and progress through their journey in music therapy! Some of the goals I want to touch on in this month’s newsletter include communication, academics skills, social skills, and sensory regulation.

Communication Skills  

Many of the clients I have worked with over the years have needed to work on their language and communication skills. This can range from being able to communicate wants and needs, to how to form sentence structure, and anything in between or past that! When working on expressing wants/needs I often do this by encouraging “I want” phrases, which is especially motivating when asking for songs and instruments they want to play! We then progress to saying “Can I have…”, answering yes/no and ‘wh’ questions, and much more. We also work on sounds the letters of the alphabet make so that they can form their words and begin their writing skills. Through all of these things I utilize music cues to help the students learn, express themselves, and utilize the music itself to help encourage and engage clients.

Academic Skills

In music therapy we can also work on academic skills. Right now I am working with many students on being able to identify and count numbers and letters, as well as helping improve handwriting skills as well! Similar to the communication skills I have music cues that I have created to help individuals understand and engage in these interventions and skills more so than they would without the music component.

Social Skills

Individuals on the Autism Spectrum often lack social skills to some extent so working on these areas are often goals, especially when in a group setting. We often work on things like turn taking and sharing, emotions, and how to communicate with others

Sensory Regulation

Often times, individuals on the spectrum also have trouble self-regulating when they are overwhelmed. Music therapy can play a big role in helping these individuals with sensory regulation, whether it is through sound or touch. There are a variety of instruments and manipulatives that provide a range of tactile stimulation to help with regulation. Along those same lines, there is definitely a wide range of music and sounds that can be produced through musical instruments that can also help individuals become “grounded” and help them go back to baseline (calm, well regulated, able to function as they typically do). All things that can be worked on during music therapy sessions.

Contact Us

Through all of these domains (communication, academic, social, and sensory) music therapy can have a huge impact in the growth of individuals on the Autism Spectrum. If this article has sparked any questions, let us know at


The Importance of Music Therapy for Dialysis Patients

National Kidney Month  

March is, among many other things, National Kidney Month. I specifically chose this cause out of many listed for this month because it is one that is near and dear to my heart. While I was working in the dialysis clinic at one of the local hospitals, I became very close with many of the patients who were undergoing dialysis as a result of kidney failure and went through treatment 3 times a week for long periods of time. Not only was this time commitment and process physically difficult for the patients and their families, but it took a huge emotional toll on these individuals too. Bringing light to what this all entails and how I saw firsthand how music therapy helped these patients is what I would like to focus on this month.

Coping Skills  

With each session lasting multiple hours and these dialysis treatments happening multiple time a week, boredom often is close by. Patients aren’t able to move around and therefore are often limited to looking at their phones, iPads, reading, or crafting. Now imagine that you are a teenager, and don’t like making crafts…most likely you are going to spend the next 3-4 hours looking on your phone.

One of the things I liked to suggest to these kids was learning a new instrument. They had a lot of time that had opened up and many of the patients were excited to do this. Learning a new skill (playing an instrument in this case) helped individuals learn to cope with their diagnosis and situation and turn it into something positive (learning something new). It helped many of the people I was working with be excited to come receive treatment and it gave them something to look forward to.

Emotional Expression

As you can imagine, spending that much time every week in a hospital is difficult emotionally as well. At the children’s hospital where I was working, many of the patients had to come in super early so that they would miss as little school as possible…but they were still missing school. They were missing out on building relationships with their peers. Missing out on playing with their friends at recess. Getting behind on lessons so that they felt “out of the loop” and didn’t feel like they fully belonged.

Through participating in music therapy, we were able to work on expressing these feelings that they were experiencing in a way that can seem more approachable than using words to describe their feelings. Through improvisation on instruments, songwriting, and lyrics analysis many of these patients were able to process their experience in a way that they could relate to.

Developmental Skills

As mentioned early, many of these patients missed school due to their treatments, which meant that some of the very young kiddos were also missing out on some of the developmental growth that comes with playing and interacting with peers. For those very young patients, focusing on developmental play through music and instruments was so important and appreciated by their parents. It not only allowed their children to have fun during something that could be the exact opposite, but helped them not fall behind their peers.

Decreasing Pain Receiving dialysis treatment can also be very painful for some patients. The port site might not be situated perfectly, or their muscles might spasm from the changes that are happening during the treatment. Many patients also felt nauseous during various points of the treatment. In those situations it was my job to help the patients relax through music. There were some patients that would even fall asleep once the music started and they could feel (I could see) their bodies relaxing as they became more in tune with the music and focused on that stimuli instead of the pain that was coursing through their bodies. In those moments, the patients and their families were so grateful to have a music therapist there to comfort them through music.

Contact Us

As you can tell, music therapy can be so beneficial for individuals going through dialysis treatment due to kidney failure. If you have any questions after reading this newsletter, please contact us at


Music Therapy’s effect on Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders  
February is all about Eating Disorders Awareness. In this newsletter we will discuss some of the underlying influencers that have the potential to lead to Eating Disorders and how these can be lessened through music therapy.

According to, eating disorders are “mental and physical illness that can affect people of every age, gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic group. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.” As research shows, eating disorders are more common than people think. In another section on this website, they provide a list of risk factors that have the potential to lead to eating disorders. This idea of risk factors is a new concept and one that I’m sure not many people have really thought about. The website goes into biological, psychological, and social factors that may be influencing for individuals, and for the purpose of our newsletter we are going to focus on the psychological and social components.


Perfectionism, body image dissatisfaction, personal history of anxiety disorder, and behavioral inflexibility are all risk factors listed on the National Eating Disorders website as potential psychological risk factors. When working with individuals who are trying to work through an eating disorder music therapists can definitely work on coping skills to help, but to really see change we have to work on the root of the problems, which is where these risk factors and knowing underlying issues that cause the eating disorders is essential. Music has the powerful and life-changing ability to help people make progress and grow in the most difficult situations. It has the ability to affect us on the inside and touch our hearts and souls. Through songwriting, improvisation, lyric analysis, and many other interventions, individuals going through these disorders are able to work their way through their pain, body image struggles, and anxiety to get past the disorder and start the journey to becoming healthy again.


Similarly, social risk factors include weight stigma, bullying, appearance ideal internalization, acculturation, limited social networks, and historical trauma are all listed as social risk factors for individuals ( Bullying and the social message that skinny is good…the thinner the better… can lead to such negative images of the self that are so harmful and devastating to many. As stated before, these negative perceptions of body image don’t just affect a specific type of person, but can really be harmful to a wide range of people not dependent on race, age, or gender. As board certified music therapists, we have the training to be able to utilize music to help individuals through these issues. Similar interventions as described above can also be utilized to help people suffering from this condition to heal and move past these issues to progress into mentally and physically healthy human beings.

Contact Us

Eating disorders can be very complex and there isn’t enough time (or space in this case) to write about all of the various levels and interventions that can be beneficial for this clientele. If you have more questions or thoughts on this topic, let us know at and we can continue the conversation!


Winter Sports TBI’s and Music Therapy Effectiveness

Welcome to Ignite Music Therapy’s January newsletter edition!

Winter Sports TBI’s  

During the winter seasons, we are finally ready for ski and snowboarding season, snowmobiling, and other exhilarating winter sports. Along with that excitement should come precautionary measures to ensure physical safety from a number of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries. TBI’s are a topic that we have addressed before, but during the month of January it is Winter Sports TBI awareness month. Throughout this newsletter edition we will provide statistics and information to increase this awareness and also allow our readers to have more awareness of how music therapy interventions can help with some of the deficits these injuries may cause.

Show Me The Stats!  

Brain injuries have a large range of symptoms and causes as well. At times it is also difficult to identify symptoms of a TBI. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury.” Some of the symptoms listed include a “headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, inability to awaken from sleep, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the arms and legs, or dilated eye pupils.”

As far as statistics go, winter sports have the highest number of head and neck injuries in comparison to summer sports according to a study by Vijay K Sharma and Colleagues. This study also reports that the number of injuries increases significantly from year to year.

How Can Music Therapy Help?

That leads us to the big question…how can music therapy help? First let’s explore what specific areas music in general can assist with. According to BioSound Healing, “recent advances in the field of neurology has proven that coordination, spatial calculation and response speed can be enhanced when  auditory processing is improved.” Basically, music can help regain a person’s coordination, spatial awareness, and other automatic brain functions that might be compromised due to at traumatic brain injury. Knowing this information is important, but not as important as the knowledge a music therapist has on how to manipulate the qualities of music to help someone overcome these obstacles. Music therapists are trained in knowing how to change the music to achieve specific goals, and also have training and knowledge in understanding the negative effects music can have on a person (and how to avoid them). Through music, the therapists can also help individuals with their gait functioning, fine and gross motor skills, communication and language development (if that was lost), and can also help increase relaxation in various muscles to help promote healing.

Contact Us

There are so many ways that music could help an individual who has a traumatic brain injury from a winter sport. So many in fact that I couldn’t possibly mention them all in this newsletter! With that being said, if you have any questions or are curious about diving more into this topic, let me know at!


December’s Newsletter

Next Year: Month’s of Awareness  
We are really excited to start our new newsletter series based on the months of awareness. People seem to be so aware of all of the various diseases, cancers, social issues and illnesses that we thought it would be super beneficial to not only continue to raise awareness about these various issues, but to also start a conversation about how music therapists can be beneficial to these populations and situations.

2019 Topics  

To start off the year we will be focusing on winter sports and Traumatic Brain Injuries,   and continue with eating disorders, cancer, stroke, autism, deaf-blind awareness, and so much more. If there is a specific cause you feel passionately about, let us know and we will try to incorporate it into our series if it is not already.

Social Media

We will also be introducing some of the people who are involved in the success of Ignite Music Therapy through our social media posts. If you have not already done so like our page on facebook and follow us on instagram @ignitemusictherapy.          

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Thank you!

As this year draws to a close, we would like to thank all of our followers and wish you all safe travels! We hope your holiday season is full of wonderful memories of friends and family, near and far.


Individual Vs. Group Music Therapy

Welcome to Ignite Music Therapy’s November newsletter edition discussing the difference between group and individual music therapy, as well as the benefits of both!

November’s Newsletter.png

Individuals vs. Groups  
In this month’s newsletter I thought it might be helpful to talk about the benefits of group music therapy vs. individual music therapy and give you some examples of what I am working on with some of the groups that I have currently.

Individual Music Therapy  

Individual music therapy is a great way to target specific goals that a person might have and really just focus on those goals and what the client needs in the moment. Many of the goals I am working on for individual clients are geared towards communication, behavior, and cognitive skills. These are great in the individual setting because we can just focus on these goals instead of also trying to manage a whole group and keep everyone involved. I also have many clients who are working on social goals and although it might seem like this would definitely be something for a group music therapy session, it takes time to teach the skills and progresses at a quicker rate when utilized in individual sessions first, then transferring over those skills into a group setting.

Group Music Therapy

Group music therapy goals definitely include social skills. Many of the skills my groups are working on is taking turns and interacting/communicating with their peers in an appropriate way. You could see then how focusing in on these skills and giving the clients these skills outside of a group setting could be beneficial and then practicing them in a group setting gives them real experience putting those skills into practice. Group settings are also great to have the clients get interaction and experience with their peers. Sometimes clients will be able to interact appropriately with adults, but struggle making relationships with their peers. The group setting helps give them a safe place to practice those skills so that they are more likely to succeed independently.

Contact us!

Both individual and group music therapy can be very beneficial for clients, but also depends on their specific needs and goals. If you have any questions about this month’s topic, email us at


Music Therapy in the Hospital Setting

Welcome to Ignite Music Therapy’s October newsletter edition discussing the important role of music therapy in our hospitals!

Hospital Setting  

I know that we have touched on some of the aspects of the role of music therapists in the hospital setting, but I wanted to dedicate an entire newsletter to bring awareness to the powerful impact music therapists have in this setting.

Coping and Expression  

Increasing coping skills and self-expression are very common goals, especially for some of the older kids and adults who get admitted to the hospital for various reasons. Sometimes these patients are getting a new diagnosis and are struggling to cope with this new labeled burden. If they express an interest in learning a new instrument, music therapists will definitely provide coaching and encouragement to help these patients be able to use music making on their own time as a coping skill through this difficult time in their lives. We also use creative music making through instruments, song choice, or songwriting as an outlet for these patients to express and process their emotions and thoughts. It can be very powerful and life changing work for these individuals and is amazing to see the journey they take.

Pain Management

Pain management is a goal for many patients in the hospital setting for a variety of reasons. Some patients are getting blood drawn, IV’s inserted, PICC placements, pain from the illness they are dealing with, etc. Music can be a very beneficial tool to use as pain management because of how the brain works. Our brains can only handle a certain amount of stimulation. If we utilize music to be the majority of the mental stimulation, it reduces the amount of pain our brains can process, therefore reducing the amount of pain people feel. We can also use the iso-principle (another concept we have discussed previously) to match the patients where they are at and help bring their body to a more relaxed state, allowing our bodies to heal and reduces the pain as well.

Developmental Milestones

This goal is a big one for infants, toddlers, and young patients, especially those who are in the hospital for a long amount of time (cancer patients, rehabilitation patients, etc.) These kids that are out of school, out of an environment focused on learning and growing are often times are more subject to falling behind in those developmental milestones, which are so important. For these patients we focus on our speech goals, eye tracking, imitating, more academic songs (ABC’s), and so much more. This not only helps them continue growing and learning, but helps them to continue moving forward in their development.  

Palliative Care

In some hospital settings the music therapy team takes part in palliative care. This can be a very emotionally taxing part of the job, but is so necessary and needed by some of the families and patients we work with. These patients are individual and families that are going to need long term support. A big portion of this is legacy making, songwriting with family members to help them cope with the situation they were put in, and creating memories with their loved ones through music. This often involves recording original songs, improvising, and even creating songs as a family to honor and show their love to the individual who is needing that long term medical care and support. It is difficult work, but shows how powerful music can be, connecting us on a deeper level.


Music therapists also work closely with the rehabilitation team. Our goals often support the goals the other therapists, (speech, occupational, and physical therapy), are working on. Since music is an emotional medium, we often times will also support these patients through their emotional journey of relearning tasks they could once do without thinking. This too can be very powerful work and it is amazing to see the determination and inspiring progress these individuals make.

Contact us!

If this newsletter sparked any questions or further interest in how music therapy can help in this setting, send us an email at with your comments and we would love to continue the conversation with you.


Music At School

September is a time of transitions and new experiences. Summer is coming to an end, students are heading back to school or to school for the first time! The weather is changing and many people are getting back into a routine.

As a music therapist and music teacher in a school, the beginning of school can be one of the busiest times! We are getting to know the staff and new students and along with getting to know new kiddos comes learning new needs that those individuals may have. One of the biggest things that can be overwhelming for kids coming back to school is learning the new “rules” and classroom expectations. In my music classes, the first few weeks of school I support teachers in establishing these expectations through fun and interactive songs. I have mentioned some of these original songs in newsletters before, but thought that mentioning them in this article again could also help parents with the transitions of going to school and learning the expectations that are common in many schools and even other public places.

Walking Feet  

Kiddos love to run! It doesn’t matter whether they are inside or outside, they just love to run. To help with the expectation of walking in the classroom or inside in general, students love the walking feet song. It tells them what the expectation is, they get to practice walking during the song, and then when they are in the classroom and running all that the teacher needs to say is “walking feet” and that is enough of a cue for the student to remember to use walking feet inside.

Please Wait

I love this music cue because it works so so well! Once again, we practice this music cue during music groups and then all the teachers have to do is say “please wait” and students remember what was practiced in music with the song and respond almost immediately! Throughout the year we do have to re-teach and practice these skills, but it works so well for so many kiddos.

Opening and Closing Songs

I use the Hello song (opening song) and the Goodbye song (closing song) for every music group I have. The reasoning is so that students have a very clear cue that we are starting or that we have finished and it is time to transition to the next part of the day. If your students or kiddos are struggling with transitions or knowing when they are expected to start or end a task, try singing a short song consistently at the beginning or end (or both!) to help signal to the child that they are expected to start or stop something. The key to this is consistency! If it’s not consistent, how are the kiddos supposed to learn that it is a cue for something to come?

Turn Taking Songs

Students often times have a hard time sharing with their peers. I have created many songs about turn taking so that students can practice these skills in a fun  and safe environment that is predictable through song. After practicing it in our music groups, teachers are then able to say or sing a short cue that helps students remember how to share with others!

Closing Thoughts

Like I mentioned previously, I know I have talked about these songs in previous newsletters so I am not including the lyrics here. If you would like to see the lyrics or hear what these songs sound like, let me know at and I can email you a MP3 file.

Contact us!

If there are any topics you are interested in learning more about, let us know at


It’s Ignite’s Anniversary!

Welcome to Ignite Music Therapy’s August newsletter edition reviewing all of the great things that have happened since we started!

It’s Our Anniversary!  

August is a very special month for Ignite Music Therapy, LLC because we have been in business for one year as of this month and so much has happened! Since starting the business the number of clients and students has doubled, and will even be tripling in the fall! I have had so much fun shaping this business and working with everyone!


This year we were able to create an in-home music therapy studio and have been able to start working with clients at our location, which I have really enjoyed. Our social media sites have also been very active and we recently reached 200 followers on instagram! I love that we can help spread awareness and knowledge about music therapy to others through social media sites. The more we share accurate information, the more people really come to understand the importance of music therapy.

We have also been talking about partnering with a phenomenal speech therapist to provide more opportunities for our clients to learn about both speech and music therapy, as well as provide co-treatment sessions to help benefit our clients even more! If you are interested in learning more about co-treating and what that looks like, send us an email at We will make sure to keep everyone updated on the status of these partnerships as they develop (hopefully getting physical and occupational therapists involved as well). Be on the lookout for more information in the coming months!

There has also been an interest in the community about contributing to newsletters and having guest writers scheduled for month’s throughout the year. If you are interested in sharing a piece about how music has positively impacted your life or someone you know, send an email at We would love to hear from you!

Things to Look Forward To! – Partnering with other therapists
– Guest writers for newsletters and blogs
– Growth!

Contact us!If there are any topics you are interested in learning more about, let us know at