Music Therapy and Trauma

Music and Trauma

Those familiar with the benefits and applications of music therapy typically understand how music can help with learning disabilities, cognitive decline and early intervention. Perhaps not so obvious is the role music can play in the treatment of trauma and clients suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).

When music is introduced as a form of treatment for PTSD and trauma related illnesses, both physiological and psychological benefits are possible. A music therapist can use music to help mitigate physical symptoms related to trauma, such as blood pressure levels, heart rate and muscle tension. Psychological symptoms that can be influenced by music include anxiety, irritability, isolation and flashbacks.

The safe and therapeutic environment that a music therapist can provide while in a session allows clients to process past trauma by empowering individuals with a sense of control. Through the music, individuals can express feelings and vulnerabilities. Activities such as music making and listening, improvisation, lyric analysis, music-assisted relaxation and songwriting can be done in either an individual session or within a group setting.

Because trauma can occur throughout the lifespan and can be experienced through a variety of different ways, individuals who sustain trauma are a diverse population. From premature infants in the NICU, to veterans, to serving the community in the aftermath of a violent event or crisis, music therapy can be used in a variety of treatment settings.

Goals are individualized but all are designed to be supportive and therapeutic, and will involve live and recorded music. Some of the most common goals are to reduce anxiety or isolation, improve overall mood, increase relaxation, develop coping skills and increase sense of control, to name a few.

If you have experienced trauma, or work with individuals  experiencing PTSD, and would like to learn more about how music can help, please contact our office and speak to someone today.

A New Approach

Taking a New Approach With Bridgewell Day Programs

Recently, we had the opportunity to develop new programming for an established client. This is always an exciting endeavor, as it allowed us to build upon strong relationships and reinvigorate our staff as we continue to tailor our programs to meet the needs of those we serve. Our music therapists have been providing group music therapy to Bridgewell’s residential homes since 2012. In a bid to bring music to the participants of their day programs, Bridgewell worked with us to create a menu of programs that would enhance the community culture that is central to the Bridgewell experience.

The new model of service delivery consists of a thematic focus determined by one of our music therapists and staff. Registered participants have opportunities to build on goals and demonstrate progress throughout the six week series. At the end, there is the opportunity to share their work through a demonstration or performance for the entire day program community through a Universal Music Therapy Event. Unlike other models, we have also built staff-training into the series so that everyone knows how to support participants.

Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC, and Maureen Young, MT-BC, are the therapists working with these groups. Some examples of the themes their groups have been working on are: Disney songs with a therapeutic twist, memory care, songwriting to improve activities of daily living, exploration of different music genres and using movement, instrument play, and singing to improve peer-to-peer interactions. Both therapists have seen an increase in confidence and comfort within their groups. Laetitia points out that her group “demonstrated pride and confidence in their songwriting, and included contributions from every member, including one who is nonverbal”.

Maureen has noted that “the most wonderful moments that I’ve seen definitely involve facilitating experiences that allow for meaningful interactions between group members and staff.  These groups really increase the mood and joy of both group members and staff. Group members are also given the opportunity to be leaders in a supportive and inclusive environment. It is wonderful to see individuals of a variety of abilities participating in a group setting together, as they are all able to access music in their own way”.

The inclusion of staff development into the program has encouraged the staff to be more present and participatory in these group experiences. By training the staff of the Bridgewell Day Programs on how they can help support the music, we are empowering the staff to make meaningful contributions to the participants’ therapeutic experience. The staff members working with Laetitia’s groups really responded to being asked for their input. They gave pointers, helped Laetitia know each person better and even reported benefits for themselves.

Maureen has observed that since collaborating with the staff at her programs, they seem to have a better understanding of what to expect during session and what their role is, in terms of stepping in and getting involved. Maureen says that “The staff has really seemed to start taking ownership of the music and feeling more comfortable using it as a tool on their own”.




A New Program and Partnership

This fall we are venturing into new pilot program in partnership with the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction. Teaming up with a Massachusetts based non-profit, Rawkstars, we are bringing music to 35 young men living within the PACT (People Achieving Change Together) Unit, a specialized program for incarcerated individuals between the ages of 18 and 24.

Rawkstars was founded by Jonathan (JJ) Jacobs, a musician and sound engineer who wanted to provide music opportunities for Massachusetts youth who would otherwise not have access. Whether it is supplying instruments, initiating programs, or in our case, connecting us with the population at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction, Rawkstars has made a mission out of connecting people through music. It is a vision that aligns serendipitously with ours, so when JJ contacted us with a potential partnership, we were eager to sign on.

PACT is a new initiative, currently in its second year, for individuals  who are 18 – 24 yrs old and currently incarcerated at the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction. Living in this unit is voluntary and requires an application process. Young men who join the program are paired with a mentor, and participate in intensive programming specifically designed for this population. The goal of the PACT unit is to focus on rehabilitation and the development of social skills that can help participants once they have served their sentences. On the unit, there is more freedom, with cells open from 7:30am to 9pm. Classes focus on life skills such as budgeting, meditation and mindfulness. There is an emphasis on positive officer and participant relations, interactions and respect, which gives the unit a more relaxed feel.

Maureen Young, MT-BC is the music therapist at Roman Music Therapy Services who will be providing services in this program. The goal of the music program with the inmates will be to develop life effectiveness skills, which include, but are not limited to, time management, social competence, task leadership, and emotional control using music-based programming in order to determine if inmates’ actions, behaviors or feelings shift in ways to make them more successful in managing and succeeding in daily life. Attendance is voluntary, but inmates will be encouraged to choose at least one program to attend each week. The programming will include large group drum circles, smaller groups that may include Songwriting, Lyric Analysis, Singing, Recreative Music Experiences, Improvisation, Active Music Listening, Music and Digital Technology, Music and Imagery, and Music Assisted Relaxation. There is also a music education component provided through Rawkstars that will be teaching other music skills to the participants. A final showcase/performance will be held at the end of the 12-week pilot program with staff, participants and their families.

Bringing music therapy to new populations is something that we are passionate about at Roman Music Therapy Services. We are really excited about this new program and collaboration with Rawkstars and the Middlesex Jail & House of Correction.. We look forward to celebrating creativity, self-expression and music in this environment to support the rehabilitative model of the PACT Program.

For more information about Rawkstars or to donate to support the work of this amazing non-profit, please visit their website.

For more information about the PACT Program, check out this video clip from WGBH.

The Benefits of Enrolling in Spouting Melodies Classes

There are so many benefits to enrolling in Spouting Melodies classes! Not only will you and your little one spend 45 minutes making music together, strengthening bonds and experiencing joy, but you are being led by a board certified music therapist with extensive experience and education in early childhood development! Each of our classes is designed to be developmentally appropriate for your child, as they meet milestones and create new connections with the world around them.

And if your child is receiving early intervention services, our classes can help support those services due to our unique experience and training.

Another benefit of class enrollment is weekly emails from our Sprouting Melodies providers, highlighting a stage or information on childhood development, and how the music in class can be used to support development, and how you can use our songs at home. Below is an example of one of the emails sent to families, focusing on baby brains, by Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC, Lead Music Therapist and Internship Director at Roman Music Therapy Services.

As caregivers, we are constantly trying to find new ways to teach our little people about the world, how they are connected to it and how they have such an important role in it. In fact, we sometimes become SO excited about sharing our knowledge and experience, that we forget to let our little people make discoveries on their own. On the surface and in the moment, it might not seem like we are limiting our little people, but when we try to make them conform to our already developed sense of self in play, we are taking away from their development of a unique sense of self. Independent and child-led play is so important for the building of self-confidence, resiliency, and flexibility in future endeavors! In fact, “when play is allowed to be child driven, children practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace, discover their own areas of interest, and ultimately engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue (Ginsberg, 2007).”
This has a lot to do with how our babies brains are developing. By age 1, your child’s brain has doubled in size and by age 3, their brain becomes about 80% of what their adult brain size will be. During this time, they are learning in a multitude of ways, and these are not always observably active, because the learning is happening internally through mirror neurons. Mirror neurons fire off when watching someone else perform an action. So, when our little ones observe us walking/shaking/jumping/etc, their brain is firing off neurons as though they were actively participating in the observed actions. This process helps your little one absorb and process the information before they are ready to actively participate in the actions. So, you can empower your child in class by modeling and letting them observe your actions. Think of how amazing it will be when they decide to reach out and play that drum on their own!! Read more about your child’s amazing brain at these websites:
Sprouting Melodies is not just a class, but a support system for you and your child! Our music therapists are eager and able to help you navigate the sometimes tricky journey of parenthood! Some of our Sprouting Melodies families have also formed bonds with one another, staying after class to socialize as their children enjoy a snack or play in our reception area.
If you are interested in learning more about Sprouting Melodies, visit our website. Ready to register? You can do so online or by calling the office: 781-224-3300

2019 American Music Therapy Association Conference


The start of November brings with it a ritual to the office as we get ready, not for the holidays, but for the annual American Music Therapy Conference. This year’s conference, entitled Innovate! Integrate! Motivate! will take place in Minneapolis, Minnesota from November 21st-November 24th.  For students, experienced music therapists or brand new professionals, conference is the time to meet with colleagues from all over the country.

We truly believe in the value of sharing ideas, opportunities, interventions and skills with the music therapy community during conference. Each year, a cohort from Roman Music Therapy Services attends to network, present and connect with the music therapy community. This year, Executive Director and Founder, Meredith Pizzi, will be providing a Financial Management CMTE (Continuing Music Therapy Education) course, as well as co-facilitating a CMTE with fellow music therapist Elizabeth Schwartz, entitled Musicking Across the Life Span: Understanding Music Throughout Human Development. Meredith and Beth will also be presenting a concurrent on building community through music therapy. Music Therapy Business Owners (MTBO’s) will also find Meredith leading the MTBO Task Force Meeting to share the work of the Business Owners Task Force with business owners around the country.

In addition to courses, Laetitia Brundage, our Intern Director and Lead Music Therapist, will be talking about the internship opportunities at Roman Music Therapy Services, during the internship fair on Saturday, November 23rd. Stop by our table if you are a music therapy student looking for a training experience that will do far more for you, personally and professionally, than just meet the internship requirement!

Roman Music Therapy Services will also have a table in the Exhibitor Hall, with information about upcoming retreats we have planned for 2020 & 2021, business coaching opportunities, and raffles.

If you’re at conference next week, be sure to stop by our table and say hello!

The Power of a Good Speaker


You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart. -John Ford 

There is something about hearing a powerful public speaker. One who can transform your position or understanding of a situation, event or topic with what they have to say. The best speakers have left a lasting impression on me.  I remember the rooms I was in, the the tone of the speaker’s voice, and the way that my entire body and brain was captivated by their words, and the way in which they spoke them.

Lorin Hollander

As a college student, I attended the 9th World Congress of Music Therapy Conference in 1999 and had the privilege of hearing Lorin Hollander speak. Mr. Hollander was a child prodigy who has gone on to be one of the most recognized piano performers in the world. His lecture, which he beautifully interlaced with piano music, absolutely changed my trajectory and affirmed my decision to be a music therapist. I was so moved by his presentation that I came back and transcribed the entire lecture to share it with the classmates in my music education program.

Brene Brown
Dr Brene Brown

In 2012, when Brene Brown was still awaiting publication of her second book, Daring Greatly, I had the opportunity to hear her speak at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. Hearing her words and seeing her powerful and vulnerable stage presence absolutely convinced me of the transformative power of seeing a speaker and having your entire world turned upside down!

There is something about the power of public speaking that has always captivated me, and as my career has unfolded, I have been humbled to speak on many stages. I love weaving music into my presentations the way that Lorin Hollander did so brilliantly. I try to get people to share in making music to bring a group together and to prepare them for learning and growing.

I always try to remember the potential that comes from public speaking, not just for sharing ideas, but for opening minds to new ways of thinking and changing lives. Our mission is clear, Making Music –  Transforming Lives, and whether we are doing it from a chair in a music therapy session, or from a stage at a conference or event, the potential for music, words and presence still thrill me.

-Meredith Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC

Learn more about where our therapists have spoken, or how to contact us to speak at an event.

-photos used with permission

Open Mic Karaoke

Open Mic Karaoke: October 18th , 7PM @ Onset School of Music

Take center stage or be part of the audience singing a variety of songs, performing and dancing to the beat. Our karaoke nights foster creative self-expression where everyone can enjoy rewarding group experiences with meaningful music-making. Whether you love to sing to Taylor Swift or you enjoy listening to friends croon to James Taylor, this inclusive community event is fun for the whole family!

If you haven’t participated in one of our Open Mic Karaoke night’s you have been missing out on a unique experience.  Part of our Project Harmony menu of programs, Open Mic Karaoke is one of our most popular community music-making events. There is still time to register for the last one scheduled this year! RSVP’s are needed by calling Jen at the office, 781-224-3300. $5 suggested at the door. Staff accompanying residents enjoy complimentary admission.

NEW – Music Therapy Business Development Graduate Course!

This fall, our Founder and Executive Director, Meredith Pizzi,  MPA, MT-BC, is thrilled to be teaching Music Therapy Business Development course at Alverno College. This online graduate music therapy course is specifically designed to support Music Therapists and is fully aligned with our work at Roman Music Therapy Services around Business Coaching and Clinical Supervision.

This course will focus on advanced competencies in Clinical Administration and Practice Development. Watch this short video to learn more about the 3 week or full semester options for the course!


Read more about the CMTE offerings and Certificate in Music Therapy Entrepreneurship at Alverno.

Ready to jump in and go for the Master’s in Music Therapy at Alverno College? Apply Today!


If you have any questions about this course,  please reach out to Meredith at her Alverno email address:

Or if you want to learn more about the program and CMTE’s, connect with Becky Engen, Ph.D., MT-BC, Director of Graduate Music Therapy at Alverno College at


Music Therapists Getaway Weekend in the Berkshires

Music Therapist Getaway Weekend

Being a music therapist can be lonely and isolating, but it doesn’t have to be! Come join other music therapists who are also working to find the perfect balance as we gather in the Berkshires for the weekend you’ve been dreaming of. This getaway will focus on self-care and how making the time for yourself can reinvigorate your practice.

Why You Should Be Here

  1. Develop valuable connections with like-minded, creative, music therapists that will help support you in your journey.
  2. This experience cannot be imitated! From the activities we have planned to the magic that will happen in this particular group, this is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
  3. Experience professional music therapy supervision with Music Therapists and earn 20 CMTE credits, plus 20 Ethics credits.
  4. Share some creativity with yourself! The focus on self-care and continuing education in this weekend can help keep the passion flowing for your work and your career in music therapy.
  5. You Deserve this! Between the gorgeous retreat accommodations, the spectacular scenery, the fabulous meals and the time and space to invest in you, this place will fill you so you can keep giving to others.

Don’t Wait to Do This for Yourself

Sign up before August 10th to receive Early Bird pricing. Both of our packages include accommodations, activities, meals and coursework. Learn more online, register or call the office, 781-224-3300, to speak with a team member.

Digital Technology in Music Therapy CMTE

There’s an App for That

It is almost impossible to find a space in modern life that is void of digital technology or its influence, and that is especially true of music. Not only has new technology changed the delivery of music and the way it is made, but it is changing how people interact with music. In the age of the ‘app’, many people can manipulate and create their own music, opening up a whole new way of expression. Integrating digital music technology in to your music therapy practice can allow you to provide clients with a new way of creating identity and discovering potential.

From Apps to Application

Join like-minded colleagues as we explore how tech and music based apps can bring your practice to the next level. We will warm up with improvisations on traditional and digital instruments, than move onto tutorials of various composition apps, such as GarageBand, GrooveMaker, LoopPacks, etc. The course will wrap up with the creation and sharing of a multimedia project. This course is a great way to turn your Smart phone, tablet or computer into another therapeutic tool at your disposal!


Course Schedule and Format

Registration and check in will be from 2pm-2:15pm, then we will dive into the work! Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, MA, MT-BS and Amadee Castenell III, MT-BC will instruct this 6 hour course, taking participants through facilitation, composition, creation and performance within some of the most popular music apps. Dinner will be provided.

Learn more and register online or call the office!

Reflections on Colorado 2019

A Magical Weekend

Last week months of organization and preparation brought Roman Music Therapy Services to the mountains of Colorado to embark on a magical journey with fellow music therapy business owners.

Our Music Therapy Business Owners Retreat was scheduled to begin on Friday and span 48 hours of intense focus, collaboration and learning. The first test to the strength of this group of entrepreneurs came in the form of a spring blizzard that blew through the Midwest two days before our scheduled start time. Mother Nature’s mood swing was no match for the professional women who were determined to reach our final destination: a breathtaking, mountain retreat home carved into the side of Saddleback Mountain. Despite a few flight delays, everyone made it to Evergreen, CO!

Diving into the Work

With business owners representing Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, California, Wisconsin, Boston and Canada, we had a diverse representation of the challenges and opportunities music therapists encounter in their business practices. Topics of focus included marketing, finances, human resources and taking your business to the next level. This motivated group dove right into the work! Their intensity and passion fueled the momentum of the weekend. It was inspiring to see such talented people so invested in the work that they do and the businesses they have created.

And of course, we made time for music making!

This intelligent, driven and accomplished group of women helped to make the weekend what it was by bringing their thoughtfulness and willingness to share. The feedback we received was gratifying and affirming.

This weekend was the most uplifting experience of my career as a business owner, and best decision I’ve made to invest in myself. Meredith’s authenticity and business acumen combined with the atmosphere of the retreat was the perfect setting. I couldn’t recommend this experience more to business owners, no matter what stage you are in with your business!!!”

Learning and growing are life long endeavors. There is no such thing as ‘too much knowledge’ or ‘too much experience’. As business owners and music therapists, the need for knowledge does not remain stagnant but an ever evolving force.  If you want to feed your inner warrior, join us at the Guided Imagery and Music training in Litchfield Conneticut or sign-up to get updates on our two-day retreat in Massachusetts in September.


Ukulele Night Coming in May!

Join us for a night of all things Ukulele!


In partnership with the Department of Developmental Services and the Ukulele Kid’s Club, we will be hosting a night devoted to the instrument with the fun name on Thursday, May 16th. The night starts at 7PM in our Wakefield location.  We will start with an intro and history of the ukulele before breaking into performance, 3 chord song lessons and group playing.

No experience is necessary!

BYO ukulele. We will have a few instruments on hand to borrow. Bring your own, or order one through us. There are two options for ordering:

  1. Order through the Ukulele Kid’s Club vendor. Uke’s are $89.99 and one ukulele is donated to a child in the hospital for every uke bought
  2. Order through us. Email Our ukulele’s run from $55-$65. Order by May 1st to ensure there arrival and pre-tuning.


Drum Circle+: Fun For Everyone!

Have you wondered what happens at a drum circle event?

Community, Music Therapy and You

Perhaps you’ve seen a flyer for one of our upcoming drum circle events and despite being curious have never signed up because you aren’t sure what to expect. That’s understandable, considering many of us may have some preconceived  ideas about what participating in a drum circle entails. 

Our drum circle+ events are facilitated by one (or more, depending on the crowd) Board Certified Music Therapists. Just the act of drumming provides some amazing benefits, such as stress reduction, improved physical health and wellness and increased brain function. Not only that, but it is a way to have fun and build community!

Do I need experience or to bring my own drum?

No! We will supply the drums, all you need to bring is your enthusiasm. The music therapists facilitating the event will guide the members of the drum circle into different rhythms, building on the energy of the group. They may start you off with a simple, repetitive beat, asking you to play louder or softer. Once everyone is warmed up, they may introduce a mandala: when one person starts off and his or her neighbor joins in, and then the next, until the entire circle joins in, or they may let someone else take over the lead.

If you still have questions, Meredith Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC, the Founder and Executive Director of Roman Music Therapy Services, explains what to expect.

And if you have any questions, do not hesitate to call the office. We will be hosting our next drum circle at Onset School of Music on Saturday, May 5th, from 2pm to 3pm! 

Preregistration is required by either calling our office, 781-224-3300, or online!

Project Harmony Strikes a Chord

Project Harmony Logo text with three circles with music symbols in shades of green and blueFinding Inspiration in the People We Serve

The vision at Roman Music Therapy Services has always been to create connects and build communities for people of all ages and abilities. We believe that making music is something everyone can do, celebrating potential instead of focusing on limitations, highlighting similarities and not differences.

In an ongoing effort to create programming that is meaningful and brings different communities together, we launched Project Harmony in the fall of 2017. Most of the offerings under Project Harmony’s umbrella were created with adults with disabilities in mind, to help transition folks from sheltered or protected experiences to more integrated interactions within the community.

Project Harmony offers ongoing series and individual events that provide:

  • Meaningful social experiences
  • Opportunities to develop authentic friendships
  • Creative self-expression
  • Interactive learning and growth
  • Sense of belonging with others
  • Enhanced physical health and well-being

Making Music, Transforming Lives

Our goal with Project Harmony is to create spaces in which all people can gather together, meet new friends and experience joy in music making. So far, we have held several Open Mic/Karaoke nights, as well as a weekly chorus. The karaoke nights are full of fun, energetic music makers and audience members, cheering each other on and crooning to a favorite song. We have had parents and families, friends looking for something to do on a night out, adults with disabilities and young children participate.

Finding wholesome, enjoyable events within the community can be a challenge for many people, so the reception of our Friday night Karaoke evenings has been very positive! Our weekly chorus, which meets Monday afternoons, has been an outlet for adults with disabilities in day programs, but anyone is welcome to join. Learning new songs and singing them in the group has been a rewarding and empowering experience! At the culmination of each 10 week series, the chorus members perform a showcase in front of their peers, demonstrating their hard work and dedication!

We have high expectations for Project Harmony, the scope of its offerings as well as the longevity of its impact. In the future, we also hope to roll out drum circles, a digital music series and many other meaningful programs that utilize music to empower all people within the community.

Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for future events and program announcements!


Karaoke: A Night of Stars

by Jennifer Ray

Our First Karaoke Night

On Friday, October 13th, Roman Music Therapy Services invited the community and the agencies that we serve to our first ever Family Karaoke and Open Mic night. The karaoke event was the kick off to a new menu of services we plan to offer, under the name of Project Harmony. When we first started planning the event, we hoped that people would be as e

xcited as we were about it! It would be a fun night, bringing people from different backgrounds and with different abilities together for music making. When Meredith and I talked about it, we thought a turnout ofthirty would mean we had a successful night.

Two weeks before the event and we realized we were offering something that the community was getting excited about! Social media started lighting up with groups and individuals tagging each other and referencing the karaoke post on Facebook. Registrations started pouring in online. Group homes started calling with reside

nt RSVP’s. The week of the event we had ninety people registered for a room at Onset School of Music that could hold one hundred.

We had to close registration, a problem we could have never envisioned!

BJ Wass and his crew at Onset (a huge shout out and thank you for all of their assistance!) opened up two rooms for us, an impressive back room with stage, lighting and sound, and another great space where we could have a second sound system running. At many points in the evening, we had two karaoke singers performing at the same time!

I found myself throughout the evening in awe and deeply touched by what I was witnessing.

Seeing this broad representation of the community; families, kids, moms out with their friends, adults with special needs, kids with special needs, all these people having fun and cheering each other on, it was amazing. Thinking about it now, I still get chills. Everyone that night was so accepting, and so supportive of each other, it truly showed the power of music and the power of community.

When folks left that night, there was a smile on every face. We had all been a part of something special!

Special thanks goes to Onset Music School, for helping us with the logistics, as well as to The Optical House, The Bread Shop and Kelly’s Roast Beef, who all donated items for our raffle!

If you had fun at our karaoke event, or weren’t able to participate in this one, please call our office, 781-224-3300, to RSVP for our next Karaoke night at Onset on December 8th!


Karaoke and Open Mic Night

Karaoke and Open Mic Night!

Do you frequent karaoke nights around town or have you ever dreamed of signing on stage but haven’t found the right venue? Well, Roman Music Therapy Services has your answer for a night of fun, community and music!

Join us on October 13th from 6:30pm – 8:00pm at Onset School of Music in Wakefield. There you will be able to perform your favorite songs on stage, with a professional sound system and lighting! Invite your friends and family to cheer you on. Not ready to perform solo? You’ll still have a great time listening to our karaoke line up, trying your hand at one of our raffles, and enjoying a light refreshment.

Committed to providing quality, fun, integrated music experiences for our clients and community, we hope you join us on Friday, October 13th for what is sure to be a great night!

Register now to save your spot!

Women in Recovery and Music Therapy

It’s a Thursday afternoon, and one of Roman Music Therapy Services lead therapists, Laetitia Brundage, has pulled up in front of the home where she will be seeing her next clients. 

Inside, ten to twelve women ranging in ages from nineteen to forty-five wait in the living room for Laetitia’s arrival. With couches moved around to form the shape of a ‘U’, participants in the upcoming music therapy session are asked to pick their instruments. Once everyone is outfitted, Laetitia opens the session with a check in, finding out where each member of the group is at, emotionally, that day. Then she leads the group with a song to gather everyone together, breaking the ice and setting the tone. A rhythm everyone can play is picked, something that offers a beat for participants to land on as they drum. Sometimes it’s ‘Boston, Massachusetts’, other times Laetitia asks if the women would like to offer the mantras they say to themselves to get through a tough challenge or a rough day.

This home is the residence of an inpatient substance use disorders treatment facility specifically for women. The women in recovery are typically there for six to twelve months and engaged in various therapies and life building sessions.

While many people are familiar with music therapy in after school programs or within the setting  of nursing homes, they are less familiar with music therapy playing a  role in the treatment of mental illness, such as PTSD, anxiety and substance use disorder, to name only a few. Laetitia helps the women in this group identify, process and develop coping mechanisms surrounding their emotions, as well as build resiliency and gratitude. By sharing their emotions with the group, displaying respect for one another and listening to each other, as well as a willingness to explore their personal experience with treatment, the goal is to increase a participant’s potential success in sobriety after leaving the supportive and contained environment of the house.

Much of the feedback Laetitia has received after her sessions is positive. One woman revealed that “music really turned my attitude around”. Another shared that it was “really cool to take all these emotions and put them into song” after a session of songwriting with her peers.”

Laetitia is honored to be part of the progress these women are making.“It’s such different work…it’s very rewarding to go into this amount of depth with people.” The women have been extremely open and Laetitia says working with them has been “really beautiful…I feel like I’m making a real difference in their treatment and giving them another tool.”

After 45 minutes of music, the session comes to a close. Typically, the group ends with a mandela, an exercise that has one person begin a beat, followed by the next person, followed by the next and so on until everyone in the circle is contributing their own music. It shows the women that while they maintain their group cohesion, they still retain their individuality. And just as they started, they finish one by one, until there is a lone drummer, before they too fall silent and the group session concludes until next week.

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with a substance use disorder, please contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for more information and help.

If you would like more info on music therapy and it’s use during treatment and recovery, please contact us.

Music Therapy for Early Childhood

Music Therapy For Early Childhood

Everyone can make music! It’s true! Whether singing along to your favorite song, tapping a beat on a bongo or experimenting on GarageBand©, everyone has the ability to create music. And you’re never too young to be involved with, or respond to, the benefits of music making. Watch any child, especially babies and toddlers, and you’ll see for yourself. They bang, they strum, they sing and dance without any care as to how ‘good’ they might be or if they are hitting the right note.

Music isn’t only fun for our little ones, it plays a critical role in overall development, helping to build neural pathways and unlock hidden potential. Before language skills are even developed, music can serve as a vehicle for communication with babies and toddlers.

Who can benefit?

Children of all ages and backgrounds are especially receptive to music! For those receiving early intervention services, music therapy can be a creative strategy to successfully reach children with identified developmental delays or other unique needs.

Children without delays, and those in daycare centers or preschools, also have fun engaging in music making that supports their emotional, social, cognitive and language development. Music making also provides young children a great opportunity to bond with caregivers and peers!

Program Offerings

  • Sprouting Melodies: Created for children, ages 0-5, and their caregivers, Sprouting Melodies is an award winning early childhood music program. Offering age-specific classes for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and sibling pairs, Sprouting Melodies classes are facilitated by Board Certified Music Therapists who have additional training in early childhood development.
  • Clinical Music Therapy: Music therapy sessions can be provided in conjunction with other early intervention therapies or pediatric therapies in both individual and group settings.
  • Music Therapy Club: Targeted for children ages 3-7 with special needs, the Music Therapy Club offers a supportive music making environment that facilitates engagement, joy, and success for all.

Does your little one light up when you sing to him or her? Are you looking for an activity that stimulates your child’s development while also fostering the bond between the two of you? If so, demo one of our Sprouting Melodies classes! Or call to find out more about our individual music therapy sessions.

Music Therapy, AMTA and Belonging

-by Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, MA, MT-BC

AMTA as a community

As with most allied health professions, music therapy has a professional organization, the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).  The purpose of AMTA “is to advance public awareness of the benefits of music therapy and increase access to quality music therapy services in a rapidly changing world” (AMTA, 2017).  This advocacy of AMTA includes educating government officials (including national senators and representatives, governors, and state legislators), organizations (including Veteran’s Affairs Administration, National Institute of Health,  and Remo Drums), and the general public.

I have been a member of AMTA since I was a music therapy student, maintaining my membership throughout my career because of the many benefits it has given me. The organization not only works on a therapist’s behalf to increase our visibility, it also increases client access to our services.

Here are some of the other great things about AMTA membership:

  •  Two high quality journals created to keep therapists informed of the latest research and clinical practices within music therapy
  • A forum for music therapists to come together and share knowledge, experience, questions, and music
  • A way for music therapists to share their voices and ideas, as well as an opportunity to shape the field of music therapy as it grows and develops
  • Volunteer members and staff who are working to protect the field of music therapy through countless hours of dedicated service
  • National and regional groups that create and support the growth of music therapy in underdeveloped and new areas
  • Resources, documents, and knowledge that deepen my practices as a music therapist, a music therapist supervisor, and a music therapy educator
  • Opportunities to develop skills outside of clinical music therapy, by taking on leadership roles, conducting research and writing scholarly materials

AMTA as an advocate

For our stakeholders, those who receive our services and those who hire us to provide music therapy services, AMTA works on your behalf as well.  AMTA has been involved in developing and modifying legislation and regulations to make music therapy more readily available to those who need our services.  AMTA works to educate the public about music therapy. Finally, AMTA serves to connect those interested in music therapy services with music therapists in their area.

If you are a music therapist or music therapy student, you can learn more about joining AMTA here!


The Intersection Between Music and Medicine

NPR’s Robert Siegel, host of All Things Considered, recently spoke with the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, and Renee Fleming, world renowned soprano and Artistic Advisor at Large at the Kennedy Center. Their conversation centered on the work they are doing jointly to advance the study of music and medicine.

This weekend both Collins and Fleming will be collaborating at Sound Health, a two-day event exploring connections between music, health, wellness and science.

Listen to, or read, their ideas on how the brain responds to music.


Turn up the Heat with Summer Music Events!

Summer is  (almost) here!

If you are a parent you might be wondering, as I find myself doing right now, which is a busier month, December or June?! Between end of school year events, field days, graduations, dance recitals, gymnastics meets, last day of school parties, etc it can feel as though there is a commitment every day!

When life gets especially hectic with obligations, it always helps to have a little fun, either scheduled or spontaneous! Roman Music Therapy Services has some great things planned, some of which are free!

Dancing and Singing all summer long!

Happy Sprouting Melodies Student

BABY/TODDLER FLASH MOB, Friday, June 16th at 11:30am (near the Gazebo)

A few years ago we held a very successful Sprouting Melodies flash mob near the lake in Melrose. Now we are taking the music, and the dancing, to Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield! Join us for some fun tunes, fresh air and feisty baby dancing! Pack some food and a blanket and feel free to stay after the music ends for a picnic!


This is a very popular series that the library puts on, and Roman Music Therapy Services is happy to be a part of it on the 27th. Held on the lawn near the library, families often bring a picnic dinner and come a little early before the music begins.


If you, or someone you know, is a new mom or dad, this is a great, FREE monthly meet up. Get out of the house with your new little one and meet other parents and caregivers!

LUNCH AND CRAFTS, Friday, July 7, 11:00am-noon

Join us for another fun craft and pizza lunch! We will make tambourines to take home and then have pizza! Sign up today to reserve your spot! We need at least 5 kiddos signed up to run this event so sign up early. Cost will be $10 per child or $15 for a family. (there are no Sprouting Melodies classes this week due to July 4th)


Both sessions are 4 weeks long to accommodate for people’s fluctuating schedules during the summer, but if you know you are going to be around, then enrolling in both at the same time will save you money! (use coupon code summer2017) And the first 8 enrollments for any summer session will receive a free Sprouting Melodies T-shirt!


Drumming to De-Stress

Beating the Drum with the Chamber!

On May 17th, Roman Music Therapy Services had the opportunity to host members of the Wakefield-Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce for an evening of networking and…drumming!

A free event for chamber members, the public was also invited for a nominal fee. We kicked off the afternoon at 5:30pm, giving attendees a chance to mingle, unwind and enjoy some great appetizers from Rooster Thai and Convenience, who supplied the catering. After everyone had arrived and felt ‘warmed up’, Kathy McCann, MT-BC, led the group into the music room where a variety of drums and other instruments awaited them.

The Benefits of Drumming

The drum is one of the oldest known instruments and the act of drumming provides a number of health benefits! It has been proven that an hour long drumming session can reduce stress significantly, is an aerobic exercise, and increases brain function, and that’s not all! Drumming also helps build community and creates a mind/body connectedness. While some of our Chamber participants seemed hesitant and self-conscious at first, it didn’t take long for everyone to loosen up and find their own beat!

Ancient peoples and societies knew the benefits of drumming, and now, as more research is done, so do we. Drumming can help Alzheimer’s patients access memories, children with special needs work on motor skills, and people suffering from depression or anxiety find an outlet for expression. It’s also a great team-builder for businesses or organizations.

If you would like more information about the benefits of drumming and drum circles, please contact us! If you’ve never seen a drum circle, Malden Access TV taped one of ours a number of years ago and you can view it here!


I Have a Drum! Now What?

Why Music?

A music therapist’s voice can be so important, especially when reaching out to populations that are not always able to respond and communicate by conventional means. Music has an impact on all areas of growth and development, making it a particularly valuable therapy in early interventionMeredith Pizzi, music therapist for various populations including early intervention work work. Bonding and attachment are just some of the areas that can be enhanced through moving together in music.

On May 9th, our founder, Meredith Pizzi, MPA, MT-BC and Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC, one of our music therapists, presented at the Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium’s annual conference. Their presentation, entitled I Have a Drum and Maracas! Now What? provided guidance for music therapists working with children and families participating in early intervention work. Intended to offer colleagues some tried and true strategies and tools for behavior management, the training included large and small group experiences, song sharing and writing, as well as a prepared lecture.

Developmental Framework

Elizabeth Schwartz, LCAT, MT-BC, Meredith’s co-founder of Raising Harmony and Sprouting Melodies, created a developmental framework that breaks down skill development into five categories or areas: awareness, trust, independence, control and responsibility. Music therapists can stylize their sessions to target specific traits exhibited in these five categories. For example, if a music therapist is working on control with a group or individual, he or she may use a song that allows for instrument choice.

Learning ObjectivesLaetitia Brundage, music therapist for various populations including early intervention work

Key learning objectives established the goal of the session. The first objective involved participants being able to identify ways that music can be used to facilitate skill development in the areas of gross and fine motor skills, language, communication and social interaction.

The next objective was learning songs that targeted these specific developmental skills in addition to songs that do not require instruments or musical materials. Songs that were shared included:

  • Row It Faster by Elizabeth Schwartz, LCAT,MT-BC (skill development – Awareness)
  • Dancing Kids by Laetitia Brundage, MT-BC (skill development – Independence)
  • Train Ride, by Alison Albino (skill development – Trust)

At the end of the two hour presentation, participants left with the ability to list three ways to support and encourage positive behavior through music, create solutions to challenges with behavior and sing three new songs and suggest functional uses for the songs.

Music therapy can have a profoundly positive effect with early intervention populations. If you are a parent or early intervention provider looking to incorporate music therapy, please contact us!


Music Therapy and Military Populations

The History of Music Therapy in Military Populations

The history of using music therapy to help post-combat veterans dates back to the days after World War I, when community musicians performed in military hospitals for wounded servicemen. Doctors and nurses noticed that their patients responded positively to the music. During the last years of World War II, it became evident that these hospital musicians needemilitary and flagd special training, thus the first music therapy degree was created.

In 1945, the U.S. War Department developed a program using music to recondition service members recuperating in Army hospitals. In this program, music was used in several therapeutic settings, including recreation, education, occupational therapy and physical reconditioning. This early use of music as a support of multiple therapies for military populations helped the music therapy profession grow. It developed further with research endorsed by the Army.

How Can Music Therapy Help Veterans and Their Families?

Veterans of recent wars face post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, major depression and polytrauma, not to mention substance abuse, family conflict and suicide. Music therapy can be a valuable part of a treatment plan for post-combat veterans and their families, offering another tool in supporting a service member’s recovery. Interventions can include improving coping skills, offering relief from pain perception and reducing stress associated with traumatic experiences.

Music is used with military populations in various ways, including drum circles, writing original music and engaging with a music therapists individually or in a group setting. Music therapy interventions often address multiple goals, such as awareness of mind/body connections, identifying feelings and emotions, physical discomfort/pain, attention, executive functioning and non-verbal means of expressing thoughts, feelings and emotions.

Interactive music experiences, music-based workshops, or incorporating music therapy into established support groups are just a number of ways music therapy can support veterans or active service members’ families. Shared music making between family members and their service members also allows everyone to engage in an activity that can be fun and positive.

One of our music therapists, Laetitia Brundage, had the invaluable experience of working with the veteran population for a few months last summer as a part of the Home Base program, a two week intensive clinical program run by MGH. Laetitia incorporated a drum circle to the opening night, kicking off the program every two weeks for new participants.

If you or a family member is a veteran or active service member interested in music therapy, please contact us.