Author Archives: lizm

Always be on the lookout for a chance to make music!

Have you had a chance to make music lately? Have you sung alone or with others?

With the holiday season fast approaching, music will become more present to us. I admit that when the snow first fell last week, I had the urge to go out and sing carols walking up and down the street, just like I did when I was in high school! Unfortunately, or fortunately, it was 6:55am and we were all eating breakfast together getting ready for the school, so busting out in song on the street wouldn’t really work!

With the hustle and bustle of November and December, remember to take some time to relax, and to be… Sit and listen to your favorite music as you surround yourself with your own winter holiday traditions. Pull out that old, dusty instrument in the basement or attic and show your kids how you “used to” play. Try pulling out that simple voice recorder on your cell phone, or GarageBand on your ipad or iphone and record your family singing your favorite holiday songs. We usually come up with a playlist as a family, and start recording early so that we can burn cd’s as holiday gifts for family members.

We also want to invite you to join us for music making as part of the holiday traditions in Melrose as part of Home for the Holidays.

This year, on Friday, December 6, 2013, we will be singing for the Tree Lighting at City Hall and then following the procession down Main Street, our team will be leading familiar holiday songs inside the lobby of Eastern Bank. On Saturday, Roman Music Therapy Services will be open from 1:00 – 3:00pm. We will have our Second Annual Family Open Mic at 1:00pm, and our Gift Boutique will be open so you can come scoop up some goodies for everyone on your list! This year we are even going to try to feature the Mom’s and Dad’s Choir at our Open Mic!

So come lend your voice to the effort and enjoy making music with your loved ones.

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Ways of Thinking about Music Therapy

Drum CircleMusic Therapy, like other forms of therapy, does not conform its practitioners to one model. Here at Roman Music Therapy Services, we use an integrated model. Clients to come to us with unique needs and we work together with them to create a success-oriented plan that helps them meet their personal goals drawing from multiple ways of thinking about music therapy.  There are many different models of music therapy that echo current research and evidence based practice. Our music therapist chooses a model of practice or uses a variety of music therapy strategies and interventions according to what benefits the client. It is also important that when seeking a music therapist, a client is well informed and can find a therapist that is right for them.

According to Meredith Pizzi, MT-BC,  the way of practicing at Roman Music Therapy Services is also closely aligned with the needs of the community.

Our work here at Roman Music Therapy Services is deeply rooted in the communities of the schools, agencies and families we serve. As a community music therapy agency, our clinical work tends to focus on the needs of the community or the individual within their community. Whether we are providing individual services, family-based afterschool groups, or group music therapy services in a school, nursing home, adult day health program, our team is always considering the needs of the individual in relationship to the world and environment around them. We believe that our work in music therapy sessions with our clients can create ripple effects in the home, schools, and in all of our communities. We also believe that by providing services in community settings, we can better support our clients in their own personal and interpersonal growth with opportunities for engagement and meaningful relationships within their communities. Our work is goal driven, focused on the needs of the individual or group members and uses all of the tools of music to help our clients reach their goals. We believe that the work that we do can best be defined as Community Music Therapy. -Meredith R. Pizzi, MT-BC

As our Mission Statement says,

Roman Music Therapy Services strives to meet the diverse needs of the community within schools, nursing homes, senior centers, and community health and service agencies through music therapy experiences, education, and resources.  Our team of music therapists use the power of music to support personal and interpersonal growth and enhance the life of the community.  Using musical tools, new possibilities and opportunities are created for our clients to reach their full potential.

Other models of Music Therapy

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy (NRMT)

Perhaps one of the most well research and well-documented models of music therapy, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy or NRMT was developed by Dr. Paul Nordoff and Dr. Clive Robbins in 1961. NRMT is centered on “the belief that everyone possesses a sensitivity to music that can be utilized for personal growth and development”. NRMT allows music therapists and clients to come together in an active music-making environment that fosters success through support and expression. NRMT is famous for its work with children with special needs, but is also suitable for use with individuals searching for creative personal development, and those in psychiatric settings.

For more information please head to their website:

Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)

Developed at Colorado State University by Michael Thaut PhD, NMT uses music therapeutically to stimulate patients with neurologic diseases that affect the nervous system. This research-based therapy is founded in the science of music effects on the “nonmusical brain”.  NMT’s four focus areas are as follows: Cognition, sensory, speech, and movement/coordination. NMT methods are used in many settings, some of the most common populations include: Alzheimer’s, Autism, Parkinson’s, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and many more.

For more information please visit their website:

The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM)

Developed by Helen Lindquist Bonny (1921-2010), the Bonny Method of Guided of Imagery and Music or GIM, is described as a “music-centered exploration of consciousness” using “specifically sequenced” music to stimulate imagery experiences.  There is openness in this practice established by the therapist and client. Goals and focus of the session are determined together in efforts to accomplish the meeting the needs of the individual. Sessions are one-to-one and can last up to two hours.  A client is lead through a guided relaxation, which leads into the exploration of “deeper state of consciousness” through the use of classical western music.  The experience is then discussed in an open format with the therapist to help further develop an understanding of the inner self.

For more information please head to their website:

Aside from the three listed above, there are many other methods of practicing music therapy, and most are individualized by the therapist adapted to fit the needs of their clients. Some other methods of music therapy include:

Click on the names above to find out more about what each method has to offer.

Written by: Channing Shippen MT-BC


Robbins, C., & Paul , N. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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Association of Guided Imagery. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Bruscia, K. (n.d.). Retrieved from

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Music Therapy and Mental Health

Meaning of LifeMusic therapy has been recognized and supported in the mental health field for many years. In the early history of music therapy, musicians worked with veterans from World War 2 playing songs in hospitals or rehabs. These musicians and surrounding staff saw noticeable changes in the veterans mood and affect. The field has grown largely since then, working with a range of demographics, disabilities, in such settings as; mental health, special education, hospice, nursing homes, and hospitals.

One study done in Finland, at the Music Therapy Clinic for Research and Training, was conducted with 79 adult participants ranging in age from 18 – 50. Each participant had been diagnosed with unipolar depression. The participants were given a baseline psychiatric assessment at the beginning of treatment and at a 3 month and 6 month follow up to assess progress. There were two groups of patients, one group received music therapy and standard care, and one group received standard care solely which consisted of 5-6 short term psychotherapy interventions, medications, and counseling.

The participants receiving individual music therapy treatment were encouraged to express themselves musically through improvisation and playing with a psychodynamic music therapy approach which involves using the exploration of instruments, to encourage self-expression. In this approach of music therapy, the therapist and participant create a relationship through the music to delve deeper into the relationship. Participants in this study received 20 bi-weekly individual music therapy sessions for 60 minutes each. Participants were offered various choices of percussive instruments, and encouraged to improvise by themselves and with the music therapist.

In this study, participants receiving music therapy showed greater improvements in all of the areas assessed; depression symptoms,  anxiety symptoms, and general functioning. The results concluded that music therapy, was an effective method of treatment along with standard care when confronting depression.

How does music therapy work as part of mental health treatment?

Music therapy in the means of mental health relies on music for communication and expression. Music therapy looks beyond verbal expression, allowing participants to find their voice in the music, in a time where it may not be easy to find the right words to say.  Music therapy in mental health settings includes interventions such as musical improvisation, song writing, music listening, and lyric analysis.

Why does it work?

Music therapy uses a participants personal relationship with music to access and create meaningful experiences. The American Music Therapy Association lists possible ways that music therapy can reinforce positive outcomes in the treatment of mental health needs.

  • Explore personal feelings and therapeutic issues such as self-esteem or personal insight
  • Make positive changes in mood and emotional states
  • Have a sense of control over life through successful experiences
  • Enhance awareness of self and environment
  • Express oneself both verbally and non-verbally
  • Develop coping and relaxation skills
  • Support healthy feelings and thoughts
  • Improve reality testing and problem solving skills
  • Interact socially with others
  • Develop independence and decision making skills
  • Improve concentration and attention span
  • Adopt positive forms of behavior
  • Resolve conflicts leading to stronger family and peer relationships

Music therapy should not replace standard care, or psychotherapy, however the research provided proves that music therapy is a positive addition to standard care, increasing a person’s opportunities for living a successful and fulfilling life.

Channing Shippen MT-BC


Erikka, J., Punkanen, M., Fachner, J., Ala-Ruona, E., Pontio, I., Tervaniemi, M., Vanhala, M., & Gold, C. (2011). Individual music therapy for depression: randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry , Retrieved from

Music therapy and mental health. (2006). Retrieved from


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Use of Music in the Applied Behavior Analysis Verbal Behavior Approach for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Article Review

We recently came across a research article about the use music with Applied Behavioral Analysis Verbal Behavior and we wanted to share it with all of you.  We have been working with schools and classrooms that use Applied Behavior Analysis as a primary teaching strategy for many years, and although our experience has demonstrated that music therapy is a great supplement to the instructional methods, it is nice to see the music therapy literature supporting this collaborative effort as well.

The following information comes from the article entitled Use of Music in the Applied Behavior Analysis Verbal Behavior Approach for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders by Hayoung A. Lim in Music Therapy Perspectives.

Applied Behavior Analysis (or ABA) is an approach used with children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) that has been used over 20 years.  This article focuses on using music therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis to increase language and communication skills. In the Applied Behavior Analysis all behaviors, including verbal behavior, contains three distinct parts:

  1. The antecedent – what causes the behavior, or events that lead up to a resulting behavior
  2. The behavior – the behaviors itself
  3. The consequence of the behavior – the result of a performed behavior.

(Lim  2010).

Using these three distinctions, the behaviorist establishes a pattern of circumstances resulting in specified behaviors.  ABA uses strong motivational variables, known as reinforcers, that alter behaviors to illicit desired behaviors. Reinforcers may be edible, allow for short controlled contact,  are easy to deliver and remove from the child, and can be repeated and given on multiple occasions.

In recent years, with the continuing development of Music Therapy in use with children on the autism spectrum, ABA  in combination with music therapy has proven successful in providing children with a multifaceted opportunity for growth. Music is inherently structural, which allows it to be a solid antecedent and strong reinforcement  for children with ASD (Lim 2010).  Music therapy addresses a variety of goals and objectives such as social skills, cognitive skills, behavioral skills, and language and communication skills. Using a variety of interventions, music therapy is flexible and capable of catering to each child on an individual basis.

Research suggests that children with ASD have shown preference toward musical stimuli (Lim 2010), this allows music to provide experiences that children with ASD will find useful as motivational variables, as Hayoung states in the article “Age appropriate and well-facilitated musical experiences can provide powerful motivational variables and ongoing reinforcing activities for establishing such rapport between peers.” Music may also function as an “automatic reinforcer” this means that the child may respond naturally to musical stimuli without prompting to obtain the desired behavior.

Within the ABA approach, Verbal Behavior or VB,  is used  to increase language and communication skills. With the use of ABA VB, language and communication is treated as a behavior that is capable of being altered, formed, and reinforced. In order to treat the behavior, it is also important to focus on the reason and context the child chooses to use the language they are using. Language and communication is reinforced by the environment in which the child lives as well as motivational tools. Within the realms of music therapy, ABA VB is reinforced by the natural structure of the music, providing children with clear and concise sequences and patterns.

In Lim’s article, the following conclusion was drawn:

“Pairing target verbal behavior with musical experiences establishes effective automatic reinforcement, and  it can increase the frequency of the communicative behaviors and social interactions in children with autism.”

It would seem that with evidence provided by Lim, the collaboration of ABA therapy and Music Therapy is a natural one. ABA therapy is and music therapy address the necessary goals, allowing a therapist to obtain measurable responses in a way that is functional, motivational, and most importantly, fun for the child.

Written by Channing Shippen, MT-BC



Lim, H. A. (2010). Use of music in the applied behavior analysis verbal behavior approach for children with autism spectrum disorders. Music Therapy Perspectives, 28, 95-105.

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Calling All Music Therapy Business Owners!

The not-to-be-missed MTBO Event of 2013!

Music Therapy Business Owners Mastermind Retreat


  • Are you passionate about music therapy?
  • Do you have a music therapy practice that excites you and inspires you every single day? Does it also sometimes frighten you?
  • Do you want to get a handle on your business so that it creates the perfect work-life “fit” for you?
  • Do you want to choose the direction of your business and see that it goes in the direction you choose, rather than having your dream of self-employment become nothing more than a day (and night!) job?
  • Do you want to use your degree and your training to create work that fits with your life and your personal purpose and mission?

You are in the Right Place!

Learn More and Register Today!

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Resources for Recovery

Our team here at Roman Music Therapy Services sends out our heartfelt thoughts to all of those affected by the tragedies in Boston this week. We have seen an out pouring of support for those affected by the tragedies of Monday. We encourage those seeking any kind of assistance to reach out and take advantage of the support and kindness of local resources.

As parents, many of us also need to reconcile how to talk with our children about these terrible events and support them in understanding while we ourselves struggle to understand.

Below you will find a list of resources that we have found that we believe may help you and your family. We will continue to add resources as we find them.


This page was created by Brene Brown following the tragedies in Newtown, but it contains a number of helpful links and resource for parents.


Resources from our community partners at The Massachusetts School for Professional Psychology Freedman Center for Child and Family Development

The MSPP INTERFACE helpline is available Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM at 617-332-3666 x1411 should you, a loved one, or friend feel it appropriate to seek mental health support in the coming days and weeks following this incident.

For parents as well as providers or school staff members working with children, the following resources may be useful:

Parent tips of preschool aged children:

Talking with children about the bombings:

Additionally, regardless of how directly we were affected, all of us will need to ensure that we take good care of ourselves in order to be available whether it be for your own children, students, clients or friends and loved ones. Please find some helpful reminders about caring for ourselves in light of this tragedy courtesy of the Riverside Community Care Trauma Center:

Please note that these resources, as well as many others that may be useful to you, are available at our website:


Common Sense Media

On the Common Sense Media Page there is helpful information about explaining the news to our children. You can read more here.


The National Association of School Psychologists offers this site to support parents and teachers on helping children cope.


The American Psychological Association offers these resources for dealing with disasters and traumatic events.


Leonard Bernstein Quote

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5 Reasons Music Therapy is Great With Autism

1. Music therapy is an individualized form of therapy that uses the strengths and abilities of a person to accomplish personal goals and meet personal needs.

2. Music therapy is flexible and able to work across multiple goal areas at once! Music therapy is able to address, communication, social, cognitive, emotional, motor/physical, and independent goals. Some parents have referred to music therapy as “one stop shopping!”

3. Music therapy can be both motivating and a positive reinforcer.

4. Music therapy is able to provide a personal experience for individuals and group members alike, incorporating preferred music into sessions, creating a deeper connection to the experiences.

5. Music therapy is Fun! Music therapy is individual in its approach, in that it allows a person to work in a way that is both self-expressive and goal oriented., making it seem like no work at all!

Music Connects

Channing Shippen MT-BC


Reschke-Hernandez, A. E. (2011). History of music therapy treatment interventions for children with autism. Journal of Music Therapy48(2), 169-207.

Allgood, N. (2005). Parents’ perceptions of family-based group music therapy for children with autism spectrum disorders. Music Therapy Perspectives, 23(2), 92-99.

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Our New CD!

Gather Round Music CDGather Round: Music Time is Family Time

Hopefully you’ve already had a chance to hear some of the songs on our new CD! If not, buy your copy now!

This CD has been such fun to record, produce and share with you, our families. We are confident that you will enjoy listening to this music as much as we do. It’s been playing non-stop in our music therapy center in our homes. Our children, nieces and nephews have all had a chance to hear it and the responses we’ve heard so far have been wonderful!

Girls Listening Girls-Recording-small-300x225 Laura RecordingKristina RecordingMer Recording

My son, who is 2 and a half and attends Sprouting Melodies has been asking for “Laura’s songs” all the time! He asks for “More Bye Bye Music Time is Done” all of the time as that is his favorite song at the moment! He also loves listening to the songs he’s heard in class and is singing them along to the CD. I’ve also seen him run over to get a drum to march with the marching song! This is exactly what the CD was intended for! So we want to know, how is the recording being used in your home? What is your favorite song? Which song do your children keep asking for again and again? Let us know by contacting us!

And mark your calendars for February 3, 2013 when we will have our very first CD Release Party!


CD Release PartyCome to our CD Release Party!

The Prince has been gracious enough to let us use their space to celebrate the release of Gather Round! The best part is you can order anything off their full menu to enjoy a family lunch, great music, and our amazing Roman Music Therapy Service Community of great families!

There will be two shows – One at 11am for families with young children, and another one at 1 for families with children from 6-14 years of age of All Abilities!!! Everyone is welcome!

February 3, 2013 Gather Round Family CD Release Party

11:00am-12:30pm For families with children 0-5 years old
1:00pm-2:30pm For families with children 6-12
More Details to Come Soon!

Bring a friend with you and be entered into our “Friend of a Friend Raffle”

Bring a new friend who has never been to one of our programs or events before and they will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift certificate good towards merchandise, classes or a birthday party!

If your friend wins….you do too!

Please spread the word.  This will be a great time for all.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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4 Thought Provoking Ways to Use Music

Lately I have been having all of these cool thoughts about how music can be used more effectively in our everyday lives. I decided to compile all of it into a convenient blog posting for you! Enjoy!


1. Turn on the Music at home.  Sometimes we get so busy and caught up in the things we have to do, we don’t even take a minute to walk over to the stereo and turn it on. Try it in the morning when you’re getting ready for your day or getting the kids off to school. Try it in the afternoon when you need to get yourself moving again in the office and you are trying to resist yet another cup of coffee! And at the end of the day, when you just want to put up your feet for 3 minutes, put on your favorite go-to song to help de-stress and relax your body.

2. Have a favorite song stuck in your head? Give it another few minutes of thought… Why is that song in your head at this moment? What are the lyrics? What is the theme or mood of the song? When is the last time you heard that song played? Taking a moment to discover why this song has presented itself is a wonderful opportunity for introspection.

3. Music for Childbirth – Music is an effective pain management tool for labor and delivery. It’s one of the areas in which I want to do a lot more work! I have consulted with expectant parents about what music to use in labor and delivery, how to choose the best songs for you and tips and tricks for using music in the hospital. If you are expecting a new little one, or know someone who is, think about how much can make labor and delivery an incredibly pleasant and joyful experience! People don’t believe me, but I love childbirth and it’s because of the great associations I have with the music I listened to for each labor.

4. Lolo iPod/iPhone apps – Do you ever get stuck on the treadmill or the elliptical struggling to get through a workout? I have discovered the coolest music and workout application. It uses an incredible beat-sync technology that takes your favorite tunes, analyzes the beats per minute in the song and then uses that at appropriate times in the work out to get your body moving! Lolo is so cool, it can even speed up and slow down your tunes to match the workout exactly, without losing the pitch of the songs. Intervals at the gym are finally enjoyable with your favorite tunes speeding up and slowing you down. This is an amazing use of music and technology to increase your physical activity.

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Meredith R. Pizzi featured in Boston Business Journal Article about Women-Owned Businesses

Obstacles linger that keep many women-owned businesses from hitting the $1M mark
Boston Business Journal by Mary K. Pratt

Date: Friday, December 9, 2011

Meredith Roman Pizzi, MT-BC, owner and founder of Roman Music Therapy Services, was featured in a Boston Business Journal article this past week. Pizzi was interviewed about what it takes to be a woman business owner, and how women today are making strides to correct the discrepancy between males and females in the workplace. Winner of the Make Mine a Million Dollar Business competition, Pizzi is aiming to grow her business to gross $1 million dollars, but her main motivation is not the money. Her goal is to use music therapy to help as many people as possible and spread the word of the healing benefits of music. She says that one of the biggest roadblocks women face is their unwillingness to think big, and Count Me In and Make Mine a Million Dollar Business have helped countless women change that.

Million Dollar Business

Read more: Page-1-BBJ-article …Page-2-BBJ-article


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New Sprouting Melodies Logo!

Sprouting Melodies LogoCheck out our new and improved Sprouting Melodies logo! You will be seeing this more and more around town in future months. Roman Music Therapy Services is growing, and we thought it would be appropriate for our graphic designs to be updated as well.  Please feel free to email us with your comments and feedback at

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RMTS Executive Director named winner of Make Mine a Million $ Business National Event

Meredith Roman Pizzi, MT-BC, of Roman Music Therapy Services in Melrose received $1000 prize for winning business pitch in national competition.

m3-1000-AwardeeView this Press Release on Melrose Patch and in the Melrose Free Press.

Melrose, Massachusetts October 6, 2011 – Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education, and community support for women entrepreneurs, has named Meredith Roman Pizzi of Malden as one of 44 Pitch Winners selected in the latest Make Mine a Million $ Business event, M3 1000, which was held Monday, September 26, 2011 in Philadelphia, PA.

M3 1000 is the largest business pitch competition for women in the United States. The Philadelphia event featured more than 300 women entrepreneurs from across the nation pitching their businesses, participating in business growth education sessions, and building business opportunities with each other.

Described as a cross between “The Apprentice” and “American Idol,” the M3 1000 pitch competition invites women business owners with at least $85,000 in annual business revenues that have been in business for two years or more to present their business in a two minute “elevator pitch” to a panel of small business experts and judges.

Pitch Winners came away with a $1000 American Express gift card, an introductory cycle of professional coaching from The Coach Connection (TCC), and a chance to participate in the next round of competition to win a coveted spot in the renowned Make Mine a Million $ Business program, along with a business development package that includes additional cycles of coaching, national PR, and financing assistance to help their businesses grow into million-dollar enterprises. A complete list of M3 1000 Philadelphia pitch winners can be found at

Meredith Roman Pizzi of Malden, MA is the local winner of the M3 1000 competition. After hearing Meredith’s two minute pitch, Nell Merlino, the founder of Count Me In, said, “You have a very important business and there are many people who need you!”

She has been a Board Certified Music Therapist for 7 years. A graduate of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, Pizzi has always been passionate about music and chose to pursue music therapy to help others using music. Beginning originally with the trumpet in fifth grade, Meredith continued studying piano, guitar, and voice in her music therapy training. In addition to her musical background, Pizzi also has an affinity for business. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Roman Music Therapy Services, a music therapy agency providing music therapy services for young children, children and adults with disabilities, and the elderly.

Meredith also developed Sprouting Melodies, an early childhood program focused on development and growth through participation in music. Sprouting Melodies is looking to sprout up soon in other Boston communities. Meredith’s passion for music therapy and serving others has been the driving force behind the growth of Roman Music Therapy Services. She resides in Malden with her husband, Felix, and their three children.

Launched in 2005 by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and founding partner American Express OPEN, the Make Mine a Million $ Business program was created to help post-start up, women-owned businesses grow to one million dollars in annual revenue. Since its inception, the program has hosted over 20 competitions in cities around the country with thousands of women entrepreneurs participating, and grown into a nationwide movement.

To date more than 28% of Make Mine a Million $ Business program participants have surpassed the $1 million mark in annual revenues versus the 2.6% national average for women business owners. A year-to-date investment of $12 million in the program has yielded $160 million in revenues for Make Mine a Million $ Business Awardees. The ultimate goal of the program is to elevate one million women businesses to over $1M in annual revenue generating $1 trillion in revenues and creating over 4 million jobs by 2020.

“We are thrilled by the eagerness of women across the country to grow their businesses, create jobs in their communities, and create stability for their families and the national economy,” said Nell Merlino, Founder and President of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence.”

About Count Me In and Roman Music Therapy Services

Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education, and community support for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow their businesses to million dollar enterprises. Count Me In launched the Make Mine a Million $ Business Competition to inspire one million women entrepreneurs scale their businesses to a million dollars in business revenues in the next decade by providing tools, skills, and the support of a nation-wide community of peers.

Roman Music Therapy Services was founded in 2006 by Meredith Roman Pizzi, MT-BC as a private practice. Today with a team of four Board Certified music therapists, Roman Music Therapy Services is making huge strides and asserting itself as Massachusetts’ premier music therapy agency. In addition to their community work, Roman Music Therapy Services a childhood program, “Sprouting Melodies,” and individual and group clinical sessions at their center on Main Street in Melrose.

Our music therapists use the power of music to motivate and engage clients to meet their full potential. Roman Music Therapy Services plans to scale the business by increasing their services to daycares and preschool programs, special education programs and nursing homes and assisted living communities in the Greater Boston and Eastern Massachusetts area. There are also plans to expand Sprouting Melodies to other communities in the South Shore and Metrowest areas.


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The Effects of Music on Brain Development

Musical composition can match developmental goals and brain activity. – Sprouting Melodies

Text of this article also provided below….


From early beginnings in the womb until the late stages of adulthood, music plays an important role in human growth, development, and sustainment.  Music— to be defined here as organized sound— is an essential component of most cultures, coloring the world through melodies, harmonies, rhythm, and lyrics.  Humans use music as a form of emotional expression, as well as a group bonding activity through participation in orchestras, bands, and casual gatherings.  Most recently, psychological researchers have been interested to find that music has another, potentially even more important function: it can improve brain development.  In several experiments conducted regarding this phenomenon, statistics show that children who play instruments and possess the ability to read music tend to score higher on achievement tests (Costa-Giomi, 1999).  Also, brains of adult musicians are significantly different in structure and function than those of non-musicians (Schlaug, Norton, Overy, & Winner, 2005). The results of various studies and observations concluded that both playing and listening to music positively effect brain development; however, there is still some dispute among professionals as to the validity of this statement.

Music’s effect on the human brain begins weeks before birth.  Because the ability to hear is developed inside the womb, babies can hear sounds prior to exposure to the outside world.  The soft timbre of a mother’s voice is one of the first recognizable noises a child hears.  The child associates this sound with comfort,  and will continue to remember and identify the mother’s voice as such after birth.  This same concept may be applied to music.  Any sort of musical sounds that a child is exposed to while in the womb— such as songs sung by the mother, musical instruments played by the mother, or music in the mother’s particular surrounding environment— may be remembered by the child and effect their progress (Hepper & Shahidullah, 1994). Though early exposure to music can not be proven to impact human brain development, research has been conducted on rats that seem to validate this hypothesis.  Rats exposed in utero plus sixty days postpartum to the Mozart sonata (K.448) navigated a spatial maze faster and with fewer errors than did animals exposed to minimalist music, white noise, or silence (Rauscher & Shaw, 1998).  Thus, it is quite possible that neural processes are effected by exposure to music, but there is not enough evidence to fully support this claim.

One could then further this question by asking, does listening to music through various stages of development (preschool years, middle to late childhood) have any impact?  More studies have been conducted regarding childhood listening; more specifically, a phenomenon coined “the Mozart effect.”  Explored by psychologists Frances Rauscher and Gordon Shaw, the “Mozart effect” suggests that listening to classical music may create short-term improvement in mental processes known as spatial-temporal reasoning.  The results of this study however, were largely misinterpreted by the public, who falsely began believing that “listening to music makes kids smarter.”  While Rauscher and Gordon did observe improvements on abstract spatial reasoning tests after the children were primed with a Mozart sonata, these positive effects lasted no longer than fifteen minutes.  Because there was no brain alteration and the effects were temporary, the Mozart effect can not be credited with improving IQ or creating lasting change (Rauscher, Gordon, & Ky, 1993).

Although listening to music may not be directly linked to brain development, there have been studies to prove playing music might be.  The act of playing an instrument involves motor skills, coordination, and complex mathematical processing, as well as psychological/emotional skills such as patience, determination, and self-expression.  Musical training can assist a child’s development in the school environment specifically in the departments of mathematics and language.  Understanding note values, counting out rhythms, and being able to keep a steady meter all involve uses of mathematical concepts; interpreting positions of notes on the staff and meanings of various musical symbols of embellishment parallels to reading a different language.  Students are able to apply these concepts to their school work.  In addition, reading music and playing an instrument can increase a child’s creativity, memory, and sense of self-worth (Schlaug, Norton, Overy, & Winner, 2005.)

In order to prove the influence of instrumental training on cognitive brain development, Gottfried Schaug, Andrea Norton, Katie Overy, and Ellen Winner conducted experiments on groups of children (fifty in total) between the ages of five and seven and between the ages of nine and eleven.  Each child in the five to seven-year-old category had no previous musical background; half of them would take lessons for a year, the others would not.  Children took several behavioral and intelligence tests prior to beginning music lessons (including the Object Assembly, Block Design, and Vocabulary subtests from either the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III) (for children six years and older) or the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III) (for children under age six); the Raven’s Colored Progressive Matrices (CPM) and Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM); the Auditory Analysis Test as a measure of phonemic awareness; Gordon’s Primary Measures of Music Audiation (PMMA) as a measure of musical skill/aptitude; and two motor tests to measure speed and dexterity in both right and left hands).  They also underwent structural and functional MRI brain scans.  A year later, the same tests were taken, revealing improvements among the musical participants.  No significant change was noted among the non-musical control group.  In the nine to eleven-year-old study, researchers compared children with four years of musical experience to a group of non-instrumentalists.  Musical children scored higher on some of the tests— specifically fine motor skills and auditory discrimination skills— but showed no notable differences on standard IQ tests.  The instrumentalists did, however, have significantly more gray matter volume pronounced in the sensorimotor cortex and the occipital lobe bilateral.  (Schlaug, Norton, Overy, & Winner, 2005.)

Schlaug, Norton, Overy, and Winner also performed cross-sectional studies among nonmusical versus musical adults, finding “significantly more gray matter in several brain regions, including the primary sensorimotor cortex, the adjacent superior premotor and anterior superior parietal cortex, primary auditory cortex, the cerebellum, the inferior frontal gyrus, and part of the lateral inferior temporal lobe” of the musicians. (Schlaug, Norton, Overy, & Winner, 2005.)

Despite the results of Schlaug, Norton, Overy, and Winner’s experiment, other researchers still claim that there is not enough solid evidence on this topic.  The construct validity of the test can be disputed due to subject variables— variables that characterize pre-existing differences among study participants.  Psychologists argue that the brains of subjects who undertake and persist in music lessons might originally differ from those who have no interest or do not have the persistence to continue lessons.  Statistics also show that the typical piano student comes from a white, middle-upper class, and thusprivileged environment (Costa-Giomi, 1999).  Because of this, these children tend to have more involved and encouraging parents, as well as the opportunity to attend better schools.  Therefore, though studies show a correlation between musical lessons and intelligence, there is no evidence that music is thecausation.

Various studies have demonstrated the positive effects of both listening and playing music on brain development. These effects include improved visual-spatial, linguistic, and mathematical performance, in addition to increased memory, emotional development, and self-esteem.  Structural and functional differences in the brains of adult musicians compared to adult non-musicians have also been observed.  The contributions of nature and nurture to this phenomenon are not yet clear, however.  Psychologists debate whether or not these experimental results are predispositional or due to other factors such as instructional methods, environment, and parenting.


Rauscher, F. & Shaw, G. (1998). Key Components of the Mozart Effect. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 86, 835-841. Retrieved from

Schlaug, G., Norton, A., Overy, K., & Winner, E. (2005). Effects of Music Training on the Child’s Brain and Cognitive Development. The Neurosciences and Music II: From Perception to Performance, 1060, 219-230. doi: 10.1196/annals.1360.015

Costa-Giomi, E. (1999). The Effects of Three Years of Piano Instruction on Children’s Cognitive Development. Journal of Research in Music Education, 47, 198-212. Retrieved from

Hepper, P. & Shahidullah, S. (1994).  Development of Fetal Hearing. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 71, F81-F87.  Retrieved from


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Look Where We Are!

Roman Music Therapy provides services to communities all over Massachusetts.
Check out this map to view the cities and towns where we work.


Where Our Music Therapists Work:

  • schools
  • homes
  • centers
  • hospitals
  • hospices
  • recreation programs
  • libraries
  • rehab
  • dayhabs
  • assisted living
  • preschools
  • early intervention
  • senior centers
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Boston Conservatory Welcome Address, by Dr. Karl Paulnack

This is an excerpt from a welcome address given to parents of incoming students at The Boston Conservatory on September 1, 2004, by Dr. Karl Paulnack, Director of the Music Division.

“One of my parents’ deepest fears, I suspect, is that society would not properly value me as a musician, that I wouldn’t be appreciated. I had very good grades in high school, I was good in science and math, and they imagined that as a doctor or a research chemist or an engineer, I might be more appreciated than I would be as a musician. I still remember my mother’s remark when I announced my decision to apply to music school-she said, “you’re wasting your SAT scores!” On some level, I think, my parents were not sure themselves what the value of music was, what its purpose was. And they loved music: they listened to classical music all the time. They just weren’t really clear about its function. So let me talk about that a little bit, because we live in a society that puts music in the “arts and entertainment” section of the newspaper, and serious music, the kind your kids are about to engage in, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with entertainment, in fact it’s the opposite of entertainment. Let me talk a little bit about music, and how it works.

One of the first cultures to articulate how music really works were the ancient Greeks. And this is going to fascinate you: the Greeks said that music and astronomy were two sides of the same coin. Astronomy was seen as the study of relationships between observable, permanent, external objects, and music was seen as the study of relationships between invisible, internal, hidden objects. Music has a way of finding the big, invisible moving pieces inside our hearts and souls and helping us figure out the position of things inside us. Let me give you some examples of how this works.

One of the most profound musical compositions of all time is the Quartet for the End of Time written by French composer Olivier Messiaen in 1940. Messiaen was 31 years old when France entered the war against Nazi Germany. He was captured by the Germans in June of 1940 and imprisoned in a prisoner-of-war camp.

He was fortunate to find a sympathetic prison guard who gave him paper and a place to compose, and fortunate to have musician colleagues in the camp, a cellist, a violinist, and a clarinetist. Messiaen wrote his quartet with these specific players in mind. It was performed in January 1941 for the prisoners and guards of the prison camp. Today it is one of the most famous masterworks in the repertoire.

Given what we have since learned about life in the Nazi camps, why would anyone in his right mind waste time and energy writing or playing music? There was barely enough energy on a good day to find food and water, to avoid a beating, to stay warm, to escape torture-why would anyone bother with music? And yet-even from the concentration camps, we have poetry, we have music, we have visual art; it wasn’t just this one fanatic Messiaen; many, many people created art. Why? Well, in a place where people are only focused on survival, on the bare necessities, the obvious conclusion is that art must be, somehow, essential for life. The camps were without money, without hope, without commerce, without recreation, without basic respect, but they were not without art. Art is part of survival; art is part of the human spirit, an unquenchable expression of who we are. Art is one of the ways in which we say, “I am alive, and my life has meaning.”

In September of 2001 I was a resident of Manhattan. On the morning of September 12, 2001 I reached a new understanding of my art and its relationship to the world. I sat down at the piano that morning at 10 AM to practice as was my daily routine; I did it by force of habit, without thinking about it. I lifted the cover on the keyboard, and opened my music, and put my hands on the keys and took my hands off the keys. And I sat there and thought, does this even matter? Isn’t this completely irrelevant? Playing the piano right now, given what happened in this city yesterday, seems silly, absurd, irreverent, pointless. Why am I here? What place has a musician in this moment in time? Who needs a piano player right now? I was completely lost.

And then I, along with the rest of New York, went through the journey of getting through that week. I did not play the piano that day, and in fact I contemplated briefly whether I would ever want to play the piano again. And then I observed how we got through the day.

At least in my neighborhood, we didn’t shoot hoops or play Scrabble. We didn’t play cards to pass the time, we didn’t watch TV, we didn’t shop, we most certainly did not go to the mall. The first organized activity that I saw in New York, on the very evening of September 11th, was singing. People sang. People sang around fire houses, people sang “We Shall Overcome”. Lots of people sang America the Beautiful. The first organized public event that I remember was the Brahms Requiem, later that week, at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic. The first organized public expression of grief, our first communal response to that historic event, was a concert. That was the beginning of a sense that life might go on. The US Military secured the airspace, but recovery was led by the arts, and by music in particular, that very night.

From these two experiences, I have come to understand that music is not part of “arts and entertainment” as the newspaper section would have us believe. It’s not a luxury, a lavish thing that we fund from leftovers of our budgets, not a plaything or an amusement or a pass time. Music is a basic need of human survival. Music is one of the ways we make sense of our lives, one of the ways in which we express feelings when we have no words, a way for us to understand things with our hearts when we can’t with our minds.

Some of you may know Samuel Barber’s heart wrenchingly beautiful piece Adagio for Strings. If you don’t know it by that name, then some of you may know it as the background music which accompanied the Oliver Stone movie Platoon, a film about the Vietnam War. If you know that piece of music either way, you know it has the ability to crack your heart open like a walnut; it can make you cry over sadness you didn’t know you had. Music can slip beneath our conscious reality to get at what’s really going on inside us the way a good therapist does.

Very few of you have ever been to a wedding where there was absolutely no music. There might have been only a little music, there might have been some really bad music, but with few exceptions there is some music. And something very predictable happens at weddings-people get all pent up with all kinds of emotions, and then there’s some musical moment where the action of the wedding stops and someone sings or plays the flute or something. And even if the music is lame, even if the quality isn’t good, predictably 30 or 40 percent of the people who are going to cry at a wedding cry a couple of moments after the music starts. Why? The Greeks. Music allows us to move around those big invisible pieces of ourselves and rearrange our insides so that we can express what we feel even when we can’t talk about it. Can you imagine watching Indiana Jones or Superman or Star Wars with the dialogue but no music? What is it about the music swelling up at just the right moment in ET so that all the softies in the audience start crying at exactly the same moment? I guarantee you if you showed the movie with the music stripped out, it wouldn’t happen that way. The Greeks. Music is the understanding of the relationship between invisible internal objects.

I’ll give you one more example, the story of the most important concert of my life. I must tell you I have played a little less than a thousand concerts in my life so far. I have played in places that I thought were important. I like playing in Carnegie Hall; I enjoyed playing in Paris; it made me very happy to please the critics in St. Petersburg. I have played for people I thought were important; music critics of major newspapers, foreign heads of state. The most important concert of my entire life took place in a nursing home in a small Midwestern town a few years ago.

I was playing with a very dear friend of mine who is a violinist. We began, as we often do, with Aaron Copland’s Sonata, which was written during World War II and dedicated to a young friend of Copland’s, a young pilot who was shot down during the war. Now we often talk to our audiences about the pieces we are going to play rather than providing them with written program notes. But in this case, because we began the concert with this piece, we decided to talk about the piece later in the program and to just come out and play the music without explanation.

Midway through the piece, an elderly man seated in a wheelchair near the front of the concert hall began to weep. This man, whom I later met, was clearly a soldier-even in his 70′s, it was clear from his buzz-cut hair, square jaw and general demeanor that he had spent a good deal of his life in the military. I thought it a little bit odd that someone would be moved to tears by that particular movement of that particular piece, but it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard crying in a concert and we went on with the concert and finished the piece.

When we came out to play the next piece on the program, we decided to talk about both the first and second pieces, and we described the circumstances in which the Copland was written and mentioned its dedication to a downed pilot. The man in the front of the audience became so disturbed that he had to leave the auditorium. I honestly figured that we would not see him again, but he did come backstage afterwards, tears and all, to explain himself.

What he told us was this: “During World War II, I was a pilot, and I was in an aerial combat situation where one of my team’s planes was hit. I watched my friend bail out, and watched his parachute open, but the Japanese planes which had engaged us returned and machine gunned across the parachute cords so as to separate the parachute from the pilot, and I watched my friend drop away into the ocean, realizing that he was lost. I have not thought about this for many years, but during that first piece of music you played, this memory returned to me so vividly that it was as though I was reliving it. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why now, but then when you came out to explain that this piece of music was written to commemorate a lost pilot, it was a little more than I could handle. How does the music do that? How did it find those feelings and those memories in me?”

Remember the Greeks: music is the study of invisible relationships between internal objects. The concert in the nursing home was the most important work I have ever done. For me to play for this old soldier and help him connect, somehow, with Aaron Copland, and to connect their memories of their lost friends, to help him remember and mourn his friend, this is my work. This is why music matters.

What follows is part of the talk I will give to this year’s freshman class when I welcome them a few days from now. The responsibility I will charge your sons and daughters with is this:

“If we were a medical school, and you were here as a med student practicing appendectomies, you’d take your work very seriously because you would imagine that some night at two AM someone is going to waltz into your emergency room and you’re going to have to save their life. Well, my friends, someday at 8 PM someone is going to walk into your concert hall and bring you a mind that is confused, a heart that is overwhelmed, a soul that is weary. Whether they go out whole again will depend partly on how well you do your craft.

You’re not here to become an entertainer, and you don’t have to sell yourself. The truth is you don’t have anything to sell; being a musician isn’t about dispensing a product, like selling used cars. I’m not an entertainer; I’m a lot closer to a paramedic, a firefighter, a rescue worker. You’re here to become a sort of therapist for the human soul, a spiritual version of a chiropractor, physical therapist, someone who works with our insides to see if they get things to line up, to see if we can come into harmony with ourselves and be healthy and happy and well.

Frankly, ladies and gentlemen, I expect you not only to master music; I expect you to save the planet. If there is a future wave of wellness on this planet, of harmony, of peace, of an end to war, of mutual understanding, of equality, of fairness, I don’t expect it will come from a government, a military force or a corporation. I no longer even expect it to come from the religions of the world, which together seem to have brought us as much war as they have peace. If there is a future of peace for humankind, if there is to be an understanding of how these invisible, internal things should fit together, I expect it will come from the artists, because that’s what we do. As in the Nazi camps and the evening of 9/11, the artists are the ones who might be able to help us with our internal, invisible lives.”

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Do-It-Yourself Music Therapy

Barbara ReuerI recently came across this article written by Dr. Reuer about the benefits of using music for yourself. I really believe it’s wonderful to see the applications of music therapy in everyone’s everyday lives.
Read full article here

The Healing Power of Do-It-Yourself Music Therapy
Barbara Reuer, Ph.D.

When a favorite song comes on the radio, we all turn up the volume and listen more closely or sing along—and instantly feel better than we did moments before. It turns out that there’s a lot of science behind this phenomenon. -Barbara Reuer, Ph.D.

As Reuer says in this article, “In a nutshell: Music has been shown to . . .
• boost the immune system
• lower blood pressure
• ease chronic and acute pain
• relieve nausea
• improve muscle control (for instance, in Parkinson’s patients)
• promote visual and auditory abilities
• improve brain function, focus and memory (including in Alzheimer’s patients)
• reduce stress, anxiety and muscle tension
• combat insomnia
• lift mood”

Read all of her words here.
Retrieved from: August 3, 2011

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What Is Music Therapy?

Watch and read to see what these experts have to say.

Mozart Effect: Does Listening To Classical Music Really Make Us Smarter?
Oliver Sacks, MD, Author, Neurologist

WATCH (Sacks’ discussion of music can be found between the 0:46 and 3:41 marks):

Retrieved from: August 3, 2011

What Is Music Therapy?
Ronna Kaplan, MA, President of American Music Therapy Association

This article shares wonderful descriptions of Music Therapy in answer to the common question, “What is Music Therapy?” Read her words here.

“Music therapy uses music prescriptively to provide opportunities for individuals to establish or strengthen connections, achieve transformations, build and expand upon foundations and reach aspirations.”

Read full article here

Retrieved from:, August 3, 2011

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OCD Treatment with Music: Notes from “Case Studies in Music Therapy”

A Co-op’s Post: Taking a Closer Look at Music Therapy
Written by Britney McNeilly, Northeastern Co-op Student at RMTS

Recently I read an interesting study about a thirty-one year old man with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  This condition caused him feelings of doubt, unrest, and panic, and resulted in emotional and social issues that affected his every day life.  Characteristic to OCD, John* (as I will refer to him for privacy purposes) had a strong need for order and was afraid and overwhelmed by irregularities.   Though he had been working with a psychotherapist for years, there had been no notable improvements in John’s condition.  On a whim, John’s therapist decided to refer him to music therapist Jose Van Den Hurk.  After a brief assessment, the music therapist decided that he would use improvisation as his primary therapeutic tool.

“John* had an intense need for security, predictability, and set rules,” said Van Den Hurk.  “From the very first contact, it was obvious that my client did not want to take any risks.  He was afraid of the unknown.” (pg 329)  During his early music therapy sessions, John’s fears were reflected in his improvisation– he was passive, submissive, uncreative, and showed no spontaneity.  He selected instruments which were familiar to him, and he did not experiment with them.  John had low self-confidence and required validation, approval, and reassurance.  Because of this, he found it difficult to make decisions, often second guessing himself or asking others for advice.  This attitude could be seen in his hesitance to choose musical instruments and to improvise.

John was a very intellectual person; however his emotions were lacking and unaccessible.  He would play music mechanically, interjecting no feeling into his play through the manner or dynamics or tempo.   Because of his low-self confidence, John was afraid of being hurt.  Rationalizing his emotions and focusing on his intellectuality, he defended himself from any possible rejection or betrayal.  John also feared intimacy.  This was demonstrated in his therapy sessions by his lack of musical contact with his therapist.  It was as though the act of playing together and connecting musically scared him.

From his initial observations and discussions with John, Van Den Hurk devised a treatment plan.  First, he selected two different but familiar instruments for John and himself (guitar and percussion).  In this scenario, John was playing a familiar instrument, did not have to make the decision of choosing an instrument, and was using an instrument different from the therapist (in order to eliminate any possibility for an intimate musical connection)– the ultimate safe haven.

At the next stage, the music therapist selected two identical, familiar instruments.  Though John did not have to make a choice or play an unfamiliar instrument, he was forced to risk intimacy with the therapist.  He began by refusing to look at the therapist when playing, concentrating solely on his own mechanical technique and rhythm and ignoring any means of connection.  However as time passed, it was noted that John paid more attention to the therapist, especially when playing piano.  This newfound emotional connection was created because John felt more at ease on the piano, and therefore his self confidence was boosted.  Feeling worthy and confident, he was less hesitant to look the therapist in the eye and sync his rhythms with him. John’s improvisations became more dynamic and expressed more emotions as he improved musically– an important step forward.  Emotionally reserved, music was a safe way for John to acknowledge his feelings and release them.

To work on John’s decision making, the therapist encouraged him to now choose his own instrument.  He was forced to deal with the difficulty of decision making, but had control over which instrument he picked (familiarity) and whether it was similar or different to that of his therapist’s (intimacy).  This focused on a different aspect of John’s OCD, but allowed him to integrate his previous progress of playing with the therapist.  He was no longer afraid of selecting similar or identical instruments, and

The last stage worked on John’s lack of spontaneity and incessant need for routine.  When improvising with John, the music therapist initially used a technique called “empathy” (Bruscia 1987) in which the therapist works on imitation, synchronization, and pacing and reflecting.  Once noted progress had been made in other areas, this technique was exchanged with that of “elicitation” and “redirection.”  These strategies include repeating, making spaces, interjecting, and introducing change.  Through this style of improvisation, John was forced to experiment, take initiatives, and react spontaneously.

John’s progress in music therapy was notable, but the real challenge was applying the concepts he’d mastered in class to his life. Music therapy was an important transitory step for John, and through continued music and psycho therapy, his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has become easier to manage.


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The Power of Music

The Power of MusicFrom early beginnings in the womb until the late stages of adulthood, music plays an important role in human growth, development, and sustainment.  Music— to be defined here as organized sound— is an essential component of most cultures, coloring the world through melodies, harmonies, rhythm, and lyrics.  Humans use music as a form of emotional expression, as well as a group bonding activity through participation in orchestras, bands, concerts, and casual gatherings.

The idea of music as a therapeutic tool has been increasingly present in the media and is currently a prime topic of scientific research.  Music has been proven to assist in childbirth, aid in the healing of stroke victims, and increase memory recall in Alzheimer’s patients.  In her book, The Power of Music, Elena Mannes explains the affect music has on different groups of people and its role in modern day health care.  Read an excerpt from Mannes’ book here.

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Notes on My First Music Therapy Session

A Co-op’s Post: Taking a Closer Look at Music Therapy
Written by Britney McNeilly, Northeastern Co-op Student at RMTS

Today I had the pleasure of witnessing my first music therapy session.  Though I have read numerous books and studied cases in which music is used as a therapeutic tool, I have never actually been present during a session; this was both an exciting and reaffirming experience for me.  As the new Northeastern Co-op student assisting at Roman Music Therapy Services, I am going to be sitting in on sessions led by Board Certified Music Therapists and assisting them with their programs during the next six months.

On Tuesdays at 2:00pm, Roman Music Therapy Services hosts a group session called “Music Makers,” (Drop-Off Program) which works with young children ages three to six, with or without disabilities.  This is the first Drop-Off class as part of “Sprouting Melodies,” the children’s program at Roman Music Therapy Services.  Music is used to help them express themselves, develop social skills, and learn how to positively interact with others.  The session I took part in was with two children. Despite their differences, I witnessed both reap the benefits of music therapy.

The session started with us all (including Meredith and Kari, the two music therapists in charge) sitting in a circle, each with our own hand drum.  Varying in sizes, the drums were used to bang along to a melody that Meredith sang to introduce the class and get the children involved.  Whether it was quiet and slow or fast and loud, each of the children clearly demonstrated their personality through their playing technique and preferences. Next we sang along as Kari played the guitar.  Meredith has developed a catalog of songs that get the children moving and hold their attention, which is crucial when working with young kids.  Passing a drum around, the kids learned how to share, take turns (and accept when their turn was over!), make eye contact, and call each member of the circle by name. They also were learning musical concepts– how to maintain a steady beat, how to improvise, and the sonority of various musical instruments.  The second to last song used scarfs as props, an idea that I found quite creative. Kari sang “I See Colors All Around” (written by one of our music therapists, Holly) and the children waved their colored scarfs in the air.

After forty-five minutes, the session ended with a goodbye song, and the children moved to the next room where they were greeted by their parents.  Joyful, they said their goodbyes and left RMTS. I was happy, knowing that they had enjoyed themselves and  were a step closer to achieving their goals.  Even in this brief session, I was provided with proof that music therapy can indeed help children grow.

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Family Caregivers Unite! Podcast

[Download the MP3] [itunes]

Our Director, Meredith Pizzi was featured in a story with Laura Rutherford, the founder of Kate’s Voice. We are very excited to share the story with you here!

This is from the Family Caregivers Unite! Website:

Laura Rutherford and Meredith Pizzi are linked by music therapy. Laura is the mother of Kate, who has multiple developmental and physical disabilities and who inspired Kate’s Voice, a non-profit group that grants music therapy programs to special-needs classrooms. Meredith, a professional music therapist, is the Founder and Director of Roman Music Therapy Services, a music therapy agency which serves children and adults with social, emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and educational needs. They talk about their work in and for music therapy and how they came to be involved. They explain the ways in which music therapy helps children with special needs. They describe their success stories. They offer advice to family caregivers who are wondering if music therapy will help their special-needs children, and to family caregivers just starting down the road travelled by Laura, Kate and the family. And then they say how they would like to see music therapy programs develop.

Click HERE to visit the Voice of America website.

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Introducing Music Makers

Music Makers

Graduating from Sprouting Melodies is a proud moment for participants but when the party’s over, your 3 to 6 year old can get bored and lonely mighty fast without a follow-up program that is every bit as compelling as Sprouting Melodies while continuing to offer them new and exciting experiences.

That’s why, after serious consideration, we’ve decided to offer a follow-on program. Music Makers will be equally delightful and transformative for your wee folks (pre-school through kindergarten).

At Music Makers we–surprise! –make music in small group environments. Enrolled children will sing, play instruments, learn how to get along with their peers, and learn how to build foundations for lasting friendships.

Music Makers is a drop-off program. This means you (parents and caregivers) can drop off your charges and cool your heels in a nearby room or at our new on-site Coffee, Tea, and Me coffee shop located downstairs from our Music Therapy Center, while your preschooler enjoys independent music-making time. And as a Sprouting Melodies Class, your child will continue to earn stamps towards on their Repetition Reaps Rewards Card. After 5 Full Sessions, the 6th Session is 50% off!

The program, led by Board Certified Music Therapists, will focus on peer interaction, communication, and social skills development. The groups will be inclusive and integrated so children become aware of the rainbow of diversity that exists across our great land. Children with special needs of any kind will be enthusiastically welcomed and treasured. The therapists will model appropriate attitudes and behaviors so that children without clinical challenges or difficulties learn that another person’s differences aren’t deal breakers and that they can find good friends everywhere.  For more about the program, click here.

Music Makers Class

We would love to have your youngsters join us. We promise to provide  wonderful experiences in a safe and nurturing environment.  Please give us a call, send us an email or go online to sign up nowSpaces are limited and filling fast.

We know you want to establish a weekly routine by the second week of summer, so don’t delay! When the spaces are gone, they’re gone!

Program web page

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Rhythms to Live By: A Music Group for Parents

Free Yourself from Stress, Move into Wellness

You’ve always known that making music was good for your children, now come experience it for yourself!

Our new Rhythms to Live By group will free you by incorporating

  • improvisation
  • inspirational mantras
  • healing rhythms
  • affirming quotes
  • drumming, instruments, voice
  • freedom of expression

Come, restore, revive. Rediscover you.

Melt into the music. Let your cares roll away.

Remember what it was like to take time for you.

Come Join Us!

  • March 16, 2011 8:00-9:00PM
  • April 13, 2011 8:00-9:00PM
  • May 18, 2011 8:00-9:00PM

While registration is not required an RSVP is requested.
RSVP now to

Join us for this drop in program once or often. You choose the frequency.

Cost: Pay what you can to support our programs.
Suggested donation is $15 pp.


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Repetition Reaps Rewards

Our Sprouting Melodies Program has really grown over the past year and has provided an enriching, playful, and supportive music class to more than 60 children. We have seen the children

  • Grow in language development as they sing greeting songs, body awareness songs, and books set to music
  • Develop motor skills as they learn to shake maracas with a musical cue, march, run and jump to music and play the drum with one or two mallets
  • Request and giggle with glee during lap rides, which give the babies, toddlers, and preschoolers the sensory stimulation they greatly need, especially during this time of year when playground time is limited.
  • Foster new friendships with each other, asking for their friends during the week and identifying them by name when they come in the room each week!

This winter session, we are rolling out our New Repetition Reaps Rewards Program. This program aims:

        1. To reinforce that repetition is the real secret to learning, and


      2. To thank all of the loyal families who continue to participate in Sprouting Melodies with their children.

Early Childhood Music

Here are the details…

  • For every full session that you register for, you will receive a stamp on your Repetition Reaps Rewards Card. (Prorated Sessions will not count towards your 5 classes.)
  • After five full sessions, you will receive 50% Off your 6th class!
  • Repetition Reaps Rewards cards are for each individual child and stamps can not be combined within your family.
  • Stamps can be earned within any Sprouting Melodies class and can be redeemed throughout the year.

We are so excited to offer this opportunity to both thank you, the parents, and to support your children in their overall early childhood development!

Please read all about it on the Repetition Reaps Rewards program page!

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Keep the Spirit Alive

How to Keep the Music Alive Throughout the Year

MUSICSo, I must admit I was sad today when I couldn’t find any Christmas music on the radio. Even though I’ve become quite a Christmas music snob with my Putumayo CD’s and a few new Pandora stations, when I was flicking stations in the car today, I was hoping for a familiar version of Jingle Bells or Walking in a Winter Wonderland.

Music seems to fill the air between Thanksgiving and Christmas and then what. After a half-rousing version of Auld Lang Syne, it all seems to disappear. Don’t let that happen to you this year. Keep the Musical Spirit Alive in your home all year with these tips.

Keep Musical Instruments Out

Encourage creative play and exploration by leaving good quality instruments around the home. I remember reading a research study that talked about how children who play with instruments left out at home play for longer periods of time and in more sophisticated ways. Musical play provides inherent opportunities for developing ideas and learning new skills.

Start a Spontaneous Sing Along!

When you want to have some fun together as a family, break out the music! One of our kids favorite activities this month was singing songs around the Christmas tree, but you don’t need a Christmas tree to make music together. Pull out a few select instruments, maybe even Tupperware, and make some music!

Make a CD or a Playlist for Someone

This year, I was the lucky recipient and excited giver of CD’s for gifts. Making a playlist or CD for your family member can be a joy for you as you pick through songs that you know your loved one would enjoy. It’s also a great gift to receive and enjoy over and over again as you listen to your thoughtfully selected songs.

Learn a New Instrument

Guitar, piano, the bassoon? What instrument has always intrigued you? Maybe it’s time for you to finally find a teacher and an instrument so that you can be the musician you want to be! Or if you used to play, maybe it’s time to dust off the old horn, or voice box and find out about joining a community chorus, band or orchestra. Don’t wait any longer!

Go to a Concert

Getting out to hear live music is a great way to keep the musical spirit alive. There is nothing like hearing and seeing live musicians perform. This fall, we invited our nephew to the Melrose Symphony Orchestra concert. It was wonderful to see him taking in a live orchestra for the the very first time. Live music anywhere, from a concert hall to a coffee shop is exciting and enriching. If you’re looking for great opportunities to hear live music for kids, check out BostonChildren’ for a calendar of events in the Boston area.

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One on One: A Music Therapy Duet

Is Individual Music Therapy right for you?

By: Meredith Roman Pizzi, MT-BC
Here’s a fireside chat with Meredith about individual music therapy sessions.

1.   What does individual music therapy look like?

Individual therapyMeredith: In a typical individual music therapy session, the music therapist and client will engage in a variety of musical experiences including:

    • singing
    • playing instruments
    • songwriting
    • song recording
    • lyric analysis
    • active music listening
    • movement to music

Individual music therapy is truly individualized! The client’s needs and goals are addressed directly in the musical interactions and active  participation in music.

2.   Do participants reach their goals faster in private sessions?

Meredith: Because individual music therapy sessions are designed to focus directly on the client’s needs and goals, participants do reach individual goals faster in private sessions.  In group music therapy settings in school or afterschool programs, the primary goals are always related to the group. Individual participants do make definite progress towards their individual goals, however, they are not the focus of the entire group session.

On the other hand, in an individual session, the individual’s needs always come first. The music therapist is able to respond to whatever the client needs in the moment and although music therapy is still a process and takes time, consistency and engagement, individual progress is often seen more quickly in private music therapy sessions.

3.   What can be accomplished in a 1:1 session?

Individual therapyMeredith: One on One music therapy sessions are a great way to target and increase skills in the following areas:

    • expressive and receptive communication/language
    • motor development
    • self-awareness and awareness of others
    • academic and cognitive areas
    • sensory regulation
    • behavior

4.  When is 1:1 music therapy NOT the right choice?

Meredith: If the goals you are looking to address in music therapy are based on social skills and functioning within a larger environment, then individual music therapy is not the best choice.  Skills like waiting and turn taking, asking and answering questions, increasing joint attention to group activities, and understanding socially appropriate behaviors are best addressed in a music therapy group format.

What are your questions about music therapy? If you have any other questions you would like to see answered about music therapy, please email me and I will answer them in a future newsletter.

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“Your baby is not bored! Your baby is totally confused!”

By: Meredith Pizzi, MT-BC

babyI said it again this month at the Melrose Public Library program during a music therapy session.

I love looking out at all the babies and toddlers who came unsuspectingly. I begin to play my guitar and they just stare at me. It is partially a look of panic, “Who are you?” And partially a look of disbelief, “You want me to do to what?” It is also a look of intrigue and confusion. But I do know, and I’m sure of this based on my 5 years of music therapy experience, that these looks are not looks of boredom!

I have to admit that it did take me a long time to come to this realization. I used to think it was just me and that I was boring them to death.

I remember, my very first session with preschoolers for my music therapy internship. The students were brought down to the music room for thirty minutes. I started with the hello song I had prepared. I was petrified when I realized that they were all staring back at me with that deer in the headlights look. I sang the song two times and then, because they obviously didn’t like that one, I quickly transitioned to another song. The second song was received with those same empty stares. As was the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, the sixth, seventh, eighth and even the ninth. That’s right! I sang nine songs in that first thirty-minute music therapy session!
No wonder they were confused. I never gave them a chance to catch up with me!kate baby photo

babyIt took me years of experience and learning about early childhood development and music, but now I know that if I’m still getting that deer in the headlights look, I need to do the song again, and again, and again, until the young children who are participating in my music groups are no longer in panic mode. Once their facial expressions relax and they begin to look at me with the expression that says, “Oh, okay…tell me more,” then I know we are ready for more music making. I assure you, as adults we will tire of a song much more quickly than our babies will. But our babies are not bored!

So the next time you start singing a new song with your baby, sing it again and again and again until they start to get it. Never do what I once did and run through 9 songs in 30 minutes! Instead, give your child a chance to really soak it all up and experience the music. And then when you are bored, sing it three more times!

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Announcing New Birthday Party Packages!

You’re Invited!


Saturdays and Sundays
Weekdays at Schools and Daycares also available!


Our place or yours!

What happens at Roman Music Therapy Services?

1 hour of fun and interactive music making!
Pizza and cake downstairs at Papa Gino’s

Papa Gino'sRoman Music Therapy Services is announcing that we have teamed up with Papa Gino’s to offer a brand new option for Birthday Parties for children. Here’s a fun way to celebrate your child’s birthday in developmentally and age appropriate ways in which the kids and grown ups all have a blast!

Forget those crazy places that spin you around for an hour and a half and you come out feeling dizzy! Come on in to our comfortable music therapy center for a Music and Movement Birthday Party for children 1-5 or a Let’s Rock! Birthday Party for children 6-12. We’ll make music, play instruments, sing songs, and have a great time for your child’s birthday.

Then downstairs to Papa Gino’s for Pizza and Cake! Everything is included!!

I’m so excited about this! If you’re interested in having a birthday party with us, give us a call!

For More Information, check out:
Music Therapy Birthday Party Flyer
Music Therapy Birthday Party Agreement

Contact Meredith R. Pizzi, MT-BC at 781-665-0700 or

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What Happens in a Music Therapy Session?

It’s time to feature another Frequently Asked Music Therapy Question. What does a music therapy session actually look like? What happens in a session and if my classroom is able to get the funding for music therapy, what would my students actually be doing?

Music Therapy SessionAll great questions. I actually had a special education teacher ask me at the beginning on this school year if I had this written down somewhere and I was surprised when I realized I didn’t. So now it is officially in writing.

Music Therapy sessions are always goal driven and so what actually happens in the session will vary greatly depending on the needs and level of participation of the students. However, the structure and format of a music therapy session are almost always the same.

Gathering Song

To begin each session, we need a song to say hello and gather us together. Sometimes, we will sings hello to all of the group members and other times doesn’t address each member, but the purpose of the song is the same. It is used to bring everyone together and gather the group to begin music. Sometimes the Gathering Song includes instruments for the students to take turns or share and support peer social interactions. Other times, a Gathering Song would include Body Percussion like clapping hands, patting knees, or stamping feet.

Goal Driven Music Experiences

Depending on the group goals, the music experiences in the session may include a variety of music therapy strategies and interventions.

Here are some goal areas and examples of music therapy strategies our music therapists may use:

  • Increasing joint attention (group members all focused on the same thing at the same time) – we may do more body percussion and imitating body movements.
  • Increasing verbal expressions – we may do some improvisational singing on syllables and other sounds.
  • Developing appropriate social skills – we may do a song with questions and answers, asking each other how your day was.
  • Increasing Receptive Language Skills – we may use instruments to work on following simple instructions.
  • Developing Skills to Participate in Groups – we may use songwriting as a way to work collaboratively as a group towards a goal such as completing a song or recording a CD.

music therapy sessionCool Down

I often include a Cool Down in the music therapy sessions to bring us all back to a quiet place after a lot of intense effort on our goal areas. In some sessions, this is active listening to quiet guitar music and in other sessions, it may be a movement activity with scarves. Either way, the purpose is to bring us back to a quiet place, relax our bodies and our minds, and prepare us for the transition to say goodbye.

Closing Song

A closing song tells everyone in the group that our music time is finished and we are transitioning to the next activity. We say goodbye to each other in the song structure and then if it’s appropriate we will stand up and move on to the next thing in the music making it a seamless musical transition. This is often very helpful and successful in classrooms that have a difficult time transitioning.

So there you have it, an outline for a 30-45 minute music therapy session. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them below. If you have questions about specific music therapy strategies and ideas that would work for your classroom, please call Meredith Pizzi, MT-BC at 781-665-0700.

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Prerequisites for Music Therapy?

By: Meredith Roman Pizzi, MT-BC

This month, I have been asked a number of times by parents, “What does my child need to know or be able to do to participate in music therapy?”  Since the question has come up a few times, I thought it might be helpful to answer the question here.

What Does My Child Need to Know?

kids groupNothing!  There is no prerequisite for successful participation in music therapy.  The Board Certified Music Therapists at Roman Music Therapy Services work from a client centered music therapy approach.  In this model of therapeutic treatment, a client participates as they are and the music therapist uses the tools of music to meet the client and their needs.  The client does not need to do anything!  Where the client is is where they are, and the music therapist’s job is to meet the client in that place and help them to move towards their educational and therapeutic goals in the music.

Does My Child Need to Have Previous Music Experience to Benefit from Music Therapy?

Your child does not need to have any specific music experience on an instrument.  If there is a particular affinity towards an instrument, than that can certainly be incorporated. Sometimes children that have had lessons on a particular instrument can use that skill in their music therapy session, however knowledge or skill level on an instrument is not necessary for successful participation in music therapy.

The services we currently offer include music therapy sessions for individuals and groups which address the client’s most pressing therapeutic needs.  At times it may be appropriate to address musical skills in order to increase confidence or to participate in a social context. For other clients, it is more appropriate to play a variety of instruments within the music therapy session.  These approaches to learning an instrument are goal oriented and focus on non-musical goal areas, which is different from learning how to play an instrument to increase musical skill.

Some music therapists do offer adapted music lessons.  At this time, Roman Music Therapy Services is not able to offer adapted music lessons due to scheduling concerns.  Hopefully, we will be able to offer both group and individual adapted music lessons in the future.

girl with guitarParents often call me looking for music therapy services because they know that their child “loves” music.  They recognize that music is something, or sometimes the one thing, that their child responds to consistently.  Maybe the child is singing songs but not using a lot of language, or maybe the child plays instruments with an apparent awareness of musicality.

If your child is drawn to music, music therapy may be the next step to helping your child reach new levels of achievement.

If your child does not tolerate music well and gets upset when music is playing, music therapy can help to integrate and process musical stimulus so that the child can function better in all environments.

Music is a form of communication which encourages meaningful interpersonal relationships and interaction that goes beyond verbal skills.  It allows for opportunities to process experiences musically and verbally through listening to songs and songwriting.  Music therapy is an expressive and creative process which allows many opportunities for growth.

Not every child needs music therapy, but most children will benefit from music therapy services.

Can I try out a music therapy session?

Absolutely! The best way to find out if music therapy would benefit your child is to come to a session.  With the new year just around the corner, call us at 781-665-0700 to schedule a visit to a Sprouting Melodies group or our Afterschool Music Therapy Groups.

Check out Sprouting Melodies, our early childhood music program, or read about our Afterschool Groups.

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“No Momma. No Dadda. No Sing.”

By: Meredith Pizzi, MT-BC

Early ChildhoodDoes this sound familiar?

“Don’t sing, mama, me sing.” Or maybe it’s not quite so verbal. Maybe your child stares you down until you stop singing. Or maybe they walk over and hold their hand over your mouth. Or maybe they scream and cover their ears until you stop singing.

So what is this behavior about, anyway?

First of all, it’s not you having a terrible singing voice. And,  it has nothing to do with your child disliking your voice. There are many other important developmental issues at play here. As a child goes through the stages of development, they are grappling with many different skills and concepts.

I’m currently reading a fascinating book titled “Music, Therapy, and Early Childhood: A Developmental Approach“, written by Beth Schwartz, a Board Certified Music Therapist in NY. She writes about the musical development of young children and how that can be applied to help young children and older children who are moving through the developmental levels of Awareness, Trust, Independence, Control, and Responsibility. This book has led me reflect further on a lot of the behaviors that I observe in children of all ages and the developmental reasons behind the behaviors.

As a child develops new skills, they like to practice them and demonstrate independence. For instance, a young child learning to dress him or herself wants only to dress independently. Any efforts to help will quickly be refused. A child’s musical skills are also developing. As a child begins to recall music and songs, they understand the lyrics, melody, and rhythm and then they begin to reproduce them.

When they don’t want to hear you singing, it may be a sign that they want and need to practice the music themselves to better understand and master this new skill.

But don’t quit singing yet!

Music Therapy and Early Childhood bookAfter this stage of development will come a new area for growth in which the child will learn how to engage in music making with others and will be ready to participate in group music making.

Here are some ideas for engaging your child in music making at this developmental stage. Many of these ideas come from the book, “Music, Therapy, and Early Childhood: A Developmental Approach“.

    • Encourage developing motor skills through music by doing a lot of songs with repeating patterns of body movements. Clapping hands, patting knees, and stamping feet are engaging and fun, and give the child a chance to demonstrate her skills
    • Use instruments that the child can play independently including maracas, eggs, drums, and tambourines. Also include two handed instruments, like a triangle, finger cymbals, or a wood block.
    • Give children many opportunities to make choices in the music. Choices can include what instrument to play, singing loud or soft, fast or slow, or what movement to do to the music.
    • Allow for developing language skills in songs by leaving out the last word of a phrase and waiting for the child to fill it in.
    • Sing or make up songs with very simple language that is repeated. Children learn the words to songs before they remember the rhythm and melody. As Beth Schwartz says in her book, “Less talk is more.”

I hope this provides for some fun music making opportunities for you and your child.

And next time your child covers his or her ears when you start to sing, remind yourself, “It’s developmental, not the quality of your voice.”

Keep making music!

If you have questions or would like to find out more about how music therapy can help address your child’s developmental needs, please call me at 781-665-0700 or email me at

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Why I Love Making Music with Children

How could you not love making music with children? I love providing music therapy programs for little ones at public libraries and in our Sprouting Melodies classes. And I love making music with older children in afterschool groups. But honestly, the best part is knowing that Moms, Dads and other caregivers can bring those songs home and develop the music making at home.

So on that note, here are My Top Reasons Why I Love Making Music with Children:

Music is Music – Simple Enough

EMARC-Hands-300x190There is nothing like sharing in the simplicity of music making with a child. As a newborn, music is a profound experience that causes the baby to stop and look around, waiting and watching. As children age, they become more and more aware of the environment and still attend to music as if it is a huge presence in the room. I learn a lot from their experience of music.

Progress is obvious – And so much fun to observe!

When you see children, young and old, master a musical task in a song, the progress is crystal clear! I enjoy working in groups of 6-7 weeks because at the end of a session, the progress from beginning to end is absolutely magnificent! We can all sit around and say, “Do you remember when we first started this group?”

The same is true with a child at home. With repetition, you see great growth! Every time a song is shared, children soak it in. With even more repetition, they are able to make the music their own. And it is really is fun to see.

Music making with children is joyful!

When you can see the anticipation of a musical phrase in a baby’s eyes, smile, and body movements, it is shear joy! And as the baby grows, (which happens much too quickly) the joyful responses become joyfully contagious! It’s hard to not laugh with a 3 year old when playing the drum, or a 7 year old delighted to be strumming to the blues on the guitar!

Bonding through music is natural

Early Childhood MusicThere is a closeness in making music with your child that goes beyond a song. It is our common understanding that songs and lullabies create intimate shared moments for babies and caregivers. With repetition, those shared musical moments create meaningful bonds.

The same can be said for music making with older children. Think about all of the stress and conflict in our parental relationships with our children. From putting on shoes in the morning, to clearing the dinner table, to brushing teeth. There are plenty of events that take us away from bonding with our kids. Making music on a regular basis with your children returns some of he playful bonding to our relationships that we all need.


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Music for Early Childhood

Taking the Music In

Music for young children, like music in general, is a unique experience that is unlike anything else. For young children with no language there is still music. For the young child with limited movement, there is still music. For a child who cannot see or touch objects in the environment, there is still music. Even for children with hearing loss, there can still be music.”   -Elizabeth Schwartz, LCAT, MT-BC

Sprouting Melodies

Sprouting Melodies early childhood music program was designed to offer all children the unique experience of being part of the music. In our groups together, the children spend quality time with their caregivers, the music therapist and the other young children in the class exploring instruments, songs, and movement. It is a full experience of relationships, bonding, and nurturing as the babies and toddlers bounce with joy to the music on their parent’s lap, smile as they shake maracas, and laugh as they move to the music throughout the room.

Sprouting Melodies provides a positive and supportive developmental experience for children of all abilities. For those children who are meeting all of their developmental milestones, they are able to jump into the music, to explore their world and their relationships with others and each week stretch and grow into their music. Children who are receiving Early Intervention services benefit from participation and are able to address their developmental skills in a fun and natural environment. Children with delays who do not qualify for Early Intervention services are able to get the support they need in a therapeutic, but playful environment.

Learn more about our Sprouting Melodies Program.

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Roman Music Therapy on Ablevision

Roman Music Therapy Services is excited to have worked on a project with Ablevision of Malden to create a television segment about music therapy. As their website says:

Ablevision is a show produced entirely by people with disabilities. We are a group of video producers dedicated to educating and promoting awareness of the disabled community.

We are really excited to share the work of Roman Music Therapy Services with this great organization and the 44 communities in Massachusetts that receive their television program.

Ablevision was recorded in Roman Music Therapy Services’ first studio located in Malden, as well as on site at Charlestown High School during a class music therapy session and at the Melrose Public Library in March. Thank you to all of those who participated and were interviewed for this special music therapy feature.

The taping was completed in April of 2009 and the show aired in late summer of 2009. To learn more about this great organization, check out their website at They also have a youtube channel at Please check it out!

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Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth

Expectant Mothers

Music was the third person in the room. When the contractions were the strongest, the music drew me in. When I felt respite, the music and toning gave me strength. When it came time to push, the music was the driving force. And when we held our child for the first time, we played his special song to welcome him. I don’t think I could have acheived the natural childbirth I desired without the music.” – New Mother

Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth is an incredible tool for mothers and fathers as they progress through labor and welcome their new little one into their arms and their life. Using music for relaxation, pain management and to facilitate rhythmic breathing brings the expectant parents and the entire childbirth team together. It supports the mother and her birth partner in creating and facilitating the desired birth experience.

For more information on Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth, please read our blog posting on Music Therapy Assisted Childbirth.

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Individual Music Therapy for Children


Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.  -Clive Robbins

Roman Music Therapy Services has a private music therapy center for individual and group music therapy sessions conveniently located at 333 North Avenue in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

This intimate and private setting has been created with the therapeutic process in mind and is equipped with guitars, a keyboard, drums, tambourines, and various other hand percussion instruments.

There are currently openings for weekday and Saturday sessions. Please call Meredith R. Pizzi, MT-BC to schedule an individual music therapy assessment.

The Music Therapy Center creates a space in which the client can freely explore a musical relationship with the music therapist and be supported in their growth by the music therapist and the music. There is also space for a parent to sit and observe during the sessions if desired. As a private pay service, goals and objectives are agreed upon by the parent, music therapist and the child, if possible. Goals may be related to areas addressed in school or other areas which the parent feels are not being adequately addressed.

Read more about music therapy for children and our services in the following pages and articles.

To find out more about how music therapy may benefit you or your child, contact Meredith R. Pizzi, MT-BC at 781-224-3300 or submit an inquiry through our website.

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Have Instruments, Will Travel: A Day in the Life of a Board Certified Music Therapist at Roman Music Therapy Services

By: Holly Rand, MT-BC

shaking eggsBeing a music therapist is a really exciting and dynamic job. At any given moment my car has some sort of collection of instruments in it, which leads all of the passengers in my car to ask, “what is that noise?”. Typically it is a bag of tambourines, maracas, bells, frame drums, rain sticks…you name it, it’s probably in my bag of tricks.  And that bag of tricks and I travel all over to make music with some really outstanding individuals.

Here’s a look at a typical day in my job. It will give you an idea of
–   the work my clients and I do
–   the music we create and
–   the successes that grow out of the therapeutic uses of music.

First, It’s Off to School

Charlestown High School

schoolI start my day at 8:30 AM at Charlestown High School. Here, I work with a group of teenagers with various disabilities. We focus a lot on social interaction and movement in this group. So, for example, I’ll set up an instrument improvisation where everyone chooses and instrument and then we all jam until I give the cue to trade instruments. The kids then get up and ask their peers if they can have their instrument. The physical aspect of this is significant for most of these kids, as many of them have physical challenges, and the chance for appropriate social interaction is incredibly important. It really gives them an opportunity to have a successful social exchange and it is a wonderful model for them to carry over outside of the session.

Professional Center for Child Development – Developmental Day School

Next, I head up to Andover to run a group for young children with multiple disabilities at the Professional Center for Child Development. These little guys are great. Getting these kids to vocalize or say hello on a pre-recorded switch is something that we work hard on. I try to bring out the little soul singers in them by starting the group with a blues hello song. Some of the kids use their voices and some use the switch, and all of them do a great job of greeting their friends. We also work a lot on choice-making in this group, which can be choosing an instrument to play from 2 or 3 depending on individual abilities and goals, or choosing an animal to sing about during the famous farm song. The kids are really motivated to make a choice because, really, who wouldn’t want to choose an instrument or an animal to sing about? But even when it seems like just fun, I am consciously and intentionally addressing their goals and objectives.

EMBARK – A Program of Northshore Education Consortium

Embark programNow, I’m on to the EMBARK program, which is a school-based program for youth ages 18-22 with various disabilities, located in Salem. We have been working on songwriting in this group, and our most recent project is a rap about Redbull. It’s pretty amazing.

The kids control the entire songwriting process, from writing the lyrics, to choosing what style of music the lyrics will be set to. This is a great way for these kids to work on social skills by structuring and supporting appropriate social interactions with their peers. We have finished the rap, and are now in the process of recording it, and when that is complete we will put it together with the other songs the group has recorded to create a CD. We are all really psyched about the CD release party to unveil the final product. This is a really talented bunch of kids, and it is wonderful to see them interact with each other to create some really great music.

Individual Music Therapy in the School Setting

My next stop is an individual session with a high school student. Because we are working on choice-making and successful independence, the client chooses what we do and the session is always changing and evolving. We write songs, we listen to pre-recorded music and discuss the lyrics and we play instruments.

There is never a dull moment and he keeps me on my toes with all of his classical music knowledge. In a recent session, I brought in Vivaldi’s “Spring” and within the first 3 seconds of play, he knew the title and composer. He has really made significant progress in his work in music therapy and he is now able to take turns leading and following in the music during our sessions.

Early Intervention

My last session is with a child receiving early intervention services. I love working with this little guy. It is clear in each of our sessions how happy he is to be in music. My favorite thing in this session is typically the hello song. We start off with a very structured song, and by the end of it we are just improvising together.

Vocalization is one of the goals for him, and by improvising, I allow him space to vocalize any way that he chooses, and then I respond by mirroring back what he sang. Also, by stopping the guitar and waiting for him to vocalize, we are addressing the goal of understanding cause and effect, which is an important goal for him. He really appears to love to sing, and given enough time and space, he can get his little vocal engine warmed up and create some really great music.

Paperwork and Documentation

DocumentationSo, there you have it. That is what a typical day looks like for me.

Actually, I forgot the part about how after all of that, you can usually find me drinking a chai latte and doing my documentation for all of my sessions at Jam ‘n Java in Arlington. It is such a great way to finish my day. I am very grateful to be able to have a job doing something that I love. It is so rewarding to be a part of my clients’ processes and help them to reach their goals through our music together.

To Contact Holly Rand, MT-BC, call 781-665-0700 or email

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