Advocating to Staff

Music Therapy Staff Members In my experience, there are three main components of successful advocacy: educate by demonstrating, know your audience, and make personal connections.  I’ve found that presentations can be a great tool for advocating, but the best way to really help people understand your work is through 1:1 interactions.  In the next three posts, I’ll focus on how I advocate to different types of people.  This post describes my advocacy approach to staff members and colleagues.

Educate by demonstrating

I’ve found that simply demonstrating what music therapy can do can be much more effective than giving lengthy explanations.  For example, before any music therapy session in the hospital, I approach the patient’s nurse (let’s call her Ashley)  to get her permission to enter the room.  I could walk up to Ashley and say, “Hi!  I’m a board-certified music therapist.  I was referred to see your patient because of pain.  Music therapy can help with pain in a variety of ways, such as providing alternative engagement to decrease perception of pain and promoting relaxation.  Is Continue reading

Your Guide to Advocacy Zen

January is Social Media Advocacy Month for music therapists!

The following post is an introduction to advocacy for music therapists provided by the Certification Board for Music Therapists.  I will be participating in Social Media Advocacy Month by focusing on my own journey as a music therapist advocating for her field.  I hope these posts help you to get to know me and my style of advocacy and to gain a better understanding of the field of music therapy.  Thanks for reading!

With joy,

Lauren Continue reading

Intervention Spotlight: Encouraging Vocalization Through Singing

Intervention Spotlight-Have you ever seen the  movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

One scene depicts the bad guy trying to get Roger to show himself by tapping the rhythm of “Shave and a Haircut…” on the walls.  Roger tries to resist, but in the end he can’t help but to jump out and complete the phrase: “Two Bits!”

We all have a natural inclination to complete unfinished musical phrases.

Music therapists use this to our advantage, especially when we’re working with clients who need some encouragement when it comes to vocalization.  Watch the video below for a demonstration with my sweet daughter:

I remember being fascinated with this concept in my college music theory classes.  Certain Continue reading

Feel the Beat

Feel the Beat Joyful Melodies Music TherapyI use a lot of improvisation in my music therapy work.  This week I had many music therapy sessions with infants in the hospital who were falling behind on their developmental milestones due to their medical circumstances.  This song, Feel the Beat, stuck with me after it arose spontaneously during a session.

With these infants, I used this song while gently tapping them on various specified body parts.  This helped them become accustomed to positive touch – touch that isn’t painful, like much of the touch they experience during their medical care.

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New Music Class for Children with Special Needs

Joyful Melodies Music Therapy Class

I am so excited about this new class!  If you have a child with special needs under the age of 6, this is the summer music class for you!  Music therapy has been used to help children with special needs for years.  We’ll use singing, playing instruments, and movement to encourage children of all abilities to learn, grow, and make new friends. Activities will be adapted in the moment to ensure that all children can participate in their own way.  Parents and siblings are welcome to join in the fun!

Dates: July 25th, August 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29

Time: 9:30am-10:15am

Cost: $84

Location: Bliss Studio, 1620 E Main St, Ste 149, Plainfield, IN

Claim your spot by filling out this registration request form.  You will soon receive a PayPal invoice by email.  Once the payment is received, your registration is confirmed.

Please share this opportunity with your friends who have children with special needs!  We can’t wait to make music with you!

If you have any questions about this class, email me:

With joy,


Session Story: Promoting Development Through Music Therapy

Music Therapy Joyful Melodies Development

Many of my clients and patients have developmental delays.  In the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I often get referrals for patients who have been born very prematurely, but have grown up and reached or passed their due date.  These patients often are already delayed or are at least at great risk for developmental delays, because the typical course of development that occurs when babies are born near their due dates is altered when they are born early.

I once received a referral for a baby boy who had been born about 3 months early, but was now 5 months old – 2 months past his due date.  He had a feeding tube, but didn’t need to be on any respiratory support, and was able to be held. His mother wasn’t able to be at bedside, and the nurses knew that letting him lay alone in his crib day after day would certainly slow his development even further, so they referred him to music therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

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3 Ways I Use Songwriting in Music Therapy

Joyful Melodies Songwriting
Tweet: 3 Ways I Use Songwriting in Music Therapy

I love songwriting!  Each music therapist receives special songwriting training in college, because it is such a powerful intervention to use in a variety of situations.  My favorite ways to use songwriting in music therapy are:

Songwriting to promote bonding between parents and their critically ill babies and give the parents a creative way to express their feelings

Part of my job in the pediatric hospital is to support the families of hospitalized children.  It can be so stressful to have a sick child, especially when the child is an infant who has never been home.  The process of writing a special song for their baby gives parents another way to express Continue reading

Session Story: Music Therapy to Promote Emotional Expression and Social Connection

Emotional Expression Joyful Melodies Music Therapy

I once received a referral for a 12 year old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental delay who was hospitalized but had no family at bedside. She was nonverbal, and I was told that she did not communicate. The nurse thought she “would enjoy some music.”

When I went into the room, I spoke to her the way I would to any other person. “Hi! My name is Lauren. I’m a music therapist. I brought my guitar. I’d love to play a song for you!”

Her eyes were open, and she looked at me. I played a simple hello song, using her name. “Hello, Kate! It’s nice to see you today!” I continued to talk to her as I transitioned to the next song. “It’s so nice to be spending time with you! Let’s do another song!”

She lay still and seemed attentive as I sang. I decided to offer her the chance to make music with me, and brought out some small percussion instruments. I showed her a colorful maraca, playing it for her and touching it gently to her arm so that she could feel it. I helped her open her contracted fingers to grasp the handle. Suddenly, she reached her arm up and shook the maraca. Continue reading

Session Story: Music Therapy with Children Experiencing Grief and Loss

Music Therapy Grief Work

Working in a children’s hospital has its joys and its sorrows.

(Please note that in order to protect patient confidentiality, names and various other details will be changed, but the stories I share on this blog are based on true events.)

I’ve worked in a pediatric hospital since 2009.  Part of my job at the hospital is to provide emotional support to families when a child passes away.  Sometimes, I provide support by singing the child’s favorite songs as the ventilator is withdrawn. Sometimes, I play soft guitar music in the corner of the room as the parents spend those last moments with their child, so that the room isn’t so horribly silent when the sound of the child’s breathing ceases.

sometimes, I provide support by coloring and singing “Frozen” songs with the patient’s siblings.

I once got a referral to help support a group of sisters whose brother was actively dying.  They Continue reading

Intervention Spotlight: Counting Songs

Joyful Melodies Music TherapyHello!  Thanks for stopping by to read this post!

Since writing this post about the importance of repetition in early childhood music experiences, I’ve been even more aware of repetition in my music therapy work with young children.  Many of the children I work with are hospitalized for extended periods of time.  Being hospitalized at a young age can often slow or stop typical child development.  It makes sense – kids at home would be having tummy time on the floor, rolling around, practicing pulling up on things, being held often, playing with toys and meeting friends for play dates.  In the hospital, depending on what the child is going through, many of these things don’t happen.  Enter an amazing team of child life specialists and creative arts therapists, who make it part of our job to give kids opportunities to grow and develop despite their medical challenges.

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