Music Therapy in the News: What We Know About Music Therapy and Dementia Today

Is Music Therapy Right for My Loved One

This week, the Chicago Tribune published an article highlighting the benefits of music therapy for individuals with dementia.

In the article, McCoppin (2018), not only provided an overview of music’s effectiveness with individuals affected by Alzheimer’s Disease, but also introduced a current study led by neurologist, Dr. Borna Bonakdarpour, which studied the impact of music therapy with nursing home residents affected by various forms of dementia, including its effect on improvements in cognition, conversation and relationships.

With the rise of dementia diagnosed in older adults, this article comes at a critical time where more and more people are seeking out progressive treatment options for their loved ones who have been declining in responsiveness to outside stimulation, orientation to their environment, and connection with close ones.

As a music therapist who regularly works with older adults with dementia, I see the toll that dementia takes on residents. However, I view it as a privilege to facilitate a supportive environment where familiar songs bring a sense of normalcy and social connection to the residents’ day.

With the knowledge base expanding in regards to the benefits of music for older adults, it is also important to know that special consideration and sensitivity must be applied when using music therapeutically. Not all music and music activities are suitable for older adults with dementia, as it is important to take into consideration the following:

  • cultural background of clients
  • creating a supportive environment to handle sensitive topics of discussion or unexpected emotional reactions that may arise
  • the physical, psycho-social, and sensory status of each individual.  

Want to learn more? Check out the article for yourself, or take a look at our current collection of resources on music therapy and older adults.

Music Therapy and Dementia

Music Therapy & Dementia: Improving Quality of Life and Inspiring Memory Recall

Music Therapy with Older Adults: What Can Music Therapy Do for My Loved One?

As always, we would love to hear about your own experiences with how music has helped you or your loved one. Comment below to share your story!

Register for music lessons or music therapy


McCoppin, R. (2018, June 11). Music can call back loved ones lost in Alzheimer’s darkness: ‘so much we can do to improve quality of life’. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from


Advocating at MTC This Week

As we wrap up another awesome week of music therapy at MTC, I wanted to tell you a little more about how we’ve been advocating for music therapy this week. If you follow our Facebook page, you’ve probably heard that it’s Illinois Music Therapy Week.  To celebrate, we are working even harder to put out the word about music therapy.

On a weekly basis, Rachel and I record live videos on Facebook with songs, resources, and ideas for music therapists, students, and teachers. This week we covered the topic of being an advocate by simply talking to anyone and everyone about music therapy and getting out in the community.

Whether it is the chatting with a cashier at Walgreen, informing the doctor in a hospital, answering your waitress’ question at lunch, speaking at a community event, having coffee with a friendly neighbor, etc, the more people you talk to about music therapy, the more word spreads and curiosity grows.  Think that for every one person you tell, they possibly tell another five, ten, or a dozen people.

We also challenged our intern, Sammy Springer, to share her own definition of music therapy and how she is becoming more of an advocate every day. She explains in her video the importance of having an elevator speech and being able to be concise in talking about music therapy.

On top of everything else this week, we had the incredible opportunity to be featured on our local news!  What says advocacy more than the words MUSIC THERAPY being said or shown on the local news multiple times!!!!  What a blessing and a joyful moment in our week.


We hope to see you advocating for music therapy and are always happy to answer any of your questions!  Happy Illinois Music Therapy Week!

Our Mid-Winter Session is Coming Up!

Music Therapy Connections Classes

We are so excited about the next round of classes, which begins in less than two weeks. Not only are we offering our usual classes, but we have added several new ones: an introduction to guitar and social skills classes for two different age groups.

This session, there truly is a class for EVERYONE, no matter what age. I can’t tell you how many times a parent has said to me, “I really wish I had stuck with those piano lessons when I was a kid,” or “I’ve always wanted to learn the guitar”. That was our motivation for opening classes up to adults, and we are really looking forward to seeing them in action.

Our Mid Winter session begins the week of February 15, and classes are either 5 or 8 weeks in length. Registration is open now and space is limited, so we hope you’ll join us in you are located in central Illinois! Click here for details and to secure your spot.

Thanks Shelbi! We’ll Miss You

Over the past few months, we have been truly blessed to have Shelbi Baker helping us out at Music Therapy Connections.


Shelbi approached us in the early fall to ask if we were hiring an administrative assistant.  At that point, we hadn’t even thought about it.  Shelbi asked for a position that didn’t exist and we created it. She helped us realize that we really did need the help!  Since then, she’s been coming into the office once or twice a week to help with all of the behind the scenes activities that take place and we are soooo grateful for all of the help she provided!

2015-10-09 17.22.03

Shelbi saved Rachel and I numerous hours creating packets, burning CD’s, prepping materials, emailing families, scheduling lessons, communicating with teachers, and more.

We are deeply saddened that this is Shelbi’s last week at MTC but are thrilled that she will be moving on to an exciting new adventure working full time in her field in St. Louis.

Congrats Shelbi!! We’ll Miss YOU! 

Welcome, Leaders!

Early Childhood Music Class

In my almost 10 years of experience leading early childhood music classes, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many others who do similar work. We’re therapists (of the music, physical, speech, developmental, and occupational sort), music educators, music specialists, general education teachers, volunteers, parents, and the list goes on. But the bottom line is the same: we all help kids learn and grow through music.

I’ve been writing songs and sharing them on my blog since 2008, and those songs make up much of my early childhood music class curricula. This summer I partnered with a fellow music therapist, Katey Kamerad, and we have been collaborating to provide early childhood music programs ever since.

Katey and I put lots of time and energy into songwriting, recording, crafting, and creating print materials for each and every class session we offer. We go through this process every 6 weeks or so, and while it is exhausting, we absolutely love the work.

Early Childhood Music Class

But we know that not all leaders do. Maybe you are passionate about marketing but not songwriting. Perhaps putting together your curriculum together completely stresses you out, but you are passionate about putting songs into action with your students. It very well could be that you just aren’t interested in writing your own songs, but you need fresh material.

No matter which category you fall under, we created this site for you. We’ve taken the classes that have already been put into action here at our studio in Springfield, IL and packaged them up so that you can do the same. The songs (including lyrics, chords, and recordings), instructions and material lists are all there and ready for you to implement in your own early childhood classes.

And this is just a jumping off point for us. We have lots of plans in the works for other resources and materials, and in the meantime will be sharing tips, techniques and tool right here on the blog.

So please stop by regularly, and don’t hesitate to share your feedback! We’d love to hear what you need most when it comes to resources for leading children through music.