Meet the Team: Donna Polen, LCAT, MT-BC

Welcome back to Roman Music Therapy Services’ Meet the Team interviews! Through this series, we will be introducing you to each member of our team, from Music Therapist to Programmatic Specialist, from Administrative Team to our Faculty Supervisor. This is for you to get to know our team, inside and out! Today, we have Donna Polen.

What is your role on the team and how long have you been with RMTS?

I started with RMTS in January 2022 as a Faculty Supervisor. In December 2022, I agreed to take on the role of Internship Director so that RMTS could reactivate their AMTA National Roster Internship. We hustled and were thrilled to receive approval from the Association Internship Approval Committee on February 9, 2023!

What university or college did you go to? What was your primary instrument?

I was in the first graduating class at the State University of New York at Fredonia. Piano is my primary instrument; I’ve been playing since I was 5 years old.

How did your undergraduate experience help to shape you into who you are today?

My academic program provided me with a broad view of clinical populations and settings and opened my eyes to a lot of psychological orientations. The biggest impact, however, was the wisdom of my professor, Connie Willeford, in guiding me to the right internship program, where I learned foundational concepts and skills based on the Nordoff-Robbins model of Creative Music Therapy. This is where I was able to channel my lifelong love of the piano into my desire to help people with challenges uncover their true potentials.

What are your StrengthsFinder strengths and how do they play a part in the work you do?

My themes are Learner, Connectedness, Achiever, Strategic, and Relator.

I think the theme of Learner is probably universal for all therapists to some degree – every new client we work with is a new lesson for us in humanity, and clinical curiosity is – in my opinion – the hallmark of a good therapist. The process of learning (about clients, about music, about ANYTHING) is so important, and I believe that parallels the clinical process.

For Connectedness, I’ve been told in the past that in a lot of my service (to AMTA and other organizations) I’ve been able to unite people with different perspectives in a way that results in outcomes that serve the greater good, so that seems to relate closely with a lot of the descriptors for Connectedness. The Achiever strength is something I sort of struggle with; it sounds so … so DRIVEN. I think I *am* driven in a lot of ways, but with my focus on the PROCESS and not the product. I will admit that I wish I was a bit more comfortable with just sitting around and chilling sometimes, but … there you have it.

As far as the Strategic strength, I’ve never really thought of myself in that way so I was surprised at that one! However, I *do* believe strongly in the importance of identifying patterns – in music, in behavior, in communication – and using that to help inform practice and process, whether it’s clinical process, training and supervision, relationships, systems – whatever is in front of me! Finally, I believe the strength of Relator serves me well as a therapist. While the StrengthsFinder emphasizes the importance of deep friendships in this theme (and my friendships are like oxygen for me), I hope that this strength also manifests in my work with everyone on the team at RMTS and, through them, to everyone they serve in their work. I strive to bring all of these strengths to my work at RMTS!

What drew you to music therapy?

I always knew I wanted to do something with music. When I was 16, my piano teacher interrupted me during a lesson and asked me if I was going to college and what I would study. After eliminating ALL music options (i.e., teaching, conducting, composition, etc.), he asked me what else I would study. I said ‘psychology’ and he bellowed out “Music therapy!” I didn’t know what music therapy was (there was no such thing as the internet or googling something), but I knew it was what I was meant to do. I still know that.

What is the most rewarding part of the work?

This is an interesting question for me at this point in my career. After 41 years as a full-time clinician who also did supervision and training, I’m now a full-time supervisor and trainer who also does some clinical work – but not enough. I have always thrived on working with students and young therapists, learning as much from them as I hope they learn from me. My work at RMTS is providing me with the opportunity to work with compassionate clinicians and soon with interns as well. I find every meeting – whether it’s individual supervision, small group supervision, M3, remote observations, and the occasional but sweet in-person times at conferences or when I travel to Wakefield – to be exciting! I love the exchange of ideas and hearing different perspectives on how to arrive at the same destination.

What are your favorite song(s) to play in sessions?

Is this a trick question? (laughs) It depends: on the client and the moment. Honestly, I can’t answer this! And I don’t always use songs – the music is often improvised. Some clients have distinct themes, or styles, and others work with different idioms all the time.

How have you surprised yourself since joining this team?

I had no idea where things were going to go when I first joined this team. But I knew I liked it. This career path was a huge surprise, honestly! And this job has pushed me toward wanting to be in human services and being mission-driven.

What is your proudest moment within your music therapy journey so far?

There are MANY! Rather than share specific or stories, I think I can distill it all down to those moments when a client succeeds in achieving something for the first time, *recognizes* their own achievement, and celebrates themselves! It’s such a gift to be able to share those moments.

Favorite books, shows, movies, or podcasts?

I mostly read for information (think MT journals, books, etc.) but when I have time for escape-reading I enjoy biographies (I guess that’s still information) and historical novels. Also anything by George Bernard Shaw. With TV, it’s similar – I’m a news junkie, but I’ve been known to binge watch “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Cesar Millan: Better Human Better Dog.” Movies – too many to mention!

What do you do outside of work?

What’s that? (laughs) Seriously, I love to walk, visit with family and friends, go out to hear live music (especially jazz and Latin), try new restaurants, and do absolutely nothing at all on any sand near salt water (I’m surrounded by lakes – no salt in evidence).

Which Mr. Men/Little Miss character are you?

Apparently, I am Little Miss Busy. Big surprise.

What’s your coffee order?

Nothing fancy – hazelnut cream and some sweetener – but it’s GOT to be HOT!!!

What would be the title of your memoir?

Together, in Music, We Can.

Three words to describe your job?

Stimulating. Surprising. Satisfying.

Advice for current music therapy students and/or future interns?

I attended an exhibit on creativity in NYC in 1980. It had a huge impact on me at a time when I was just beginning my professional practice of music therapy. It was through this exhibit that I first became familiar with the brilliant American artist, Romare Bearden. His collage work has been compared to jazz improvisation, and his comments on art and music were powerful to me. Phrases such as, “You sing on the canvas. You improvise – you find the rhythm and catch it good, and structure as you go along – then the song is you.” and “Well, it is like jazz; you do this and then you improvise.”

Another Bearden quote is one that I often share with students and interns: “The artist has to be something like a whale swimming with his mouth wide open, absorbing everything until he has what he really needs.” I believe, as musician therapists, we need to do this. In our listening, in our reading, in our engagement with colleagues, and especially in our work with clients – take it all in!

Meet the Clinician: Sean FitzGerald, MT-BC

Welcome back to Roman Music Therapy Services’ Meet the Team interviews! Through this series, we will be introducing you to each member of our team, from Music Therapist to Programmatic Specialist, from Administrative Team to our Faculty Supervisor. This is for you to get to know our team, inside and out! Next, we have Sean FitzGerald, MT-BC.

What is your role on the team and how long have you been with RMTS?

I’m a Staff Music Therapist and I’ve been in this position since last July.

What university or college did you go to? What was your primary instrument?

I went to Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and I was a jazz voice primary.

How did your undergraduate experience help to shape you into the therapist you are today?

So I had an awkward college journey (laughs). I started as a microbiology major then switched to music therapy and transferred schools. That was a tough transition because it felt like I was leaving family behind. So learning how to be resilient and adapt to my new school, new city, and everything that comes with moving really came into play once I got to Temple. My time there was spent really learning how to adapt and mold myself to different situations and make my environment work for me. That resiliency definitely finds itself coming into my clinical work. 

What are your StrengthsFinder strengths and how do they play a part in the work you do?

My strengths are Developer, Empathy, Restorative, Positivity, Individualistic, and Includer. And they all obviously play into my work – I’m a huge empath. I always just want to make everybody feel good, make sure everybody’s chilling. And doing that in the context of a session is so impactful, it sets the tone for everyone to be their best selves! Then incorporating that element of Inclusion seals the deal. The Developer strength fits me super well because I have a very analytical mind – I like to break things down and I’ve learned that I can think really quickly because of this strength.  Then in sessions, I’m able to implement that ability to process events quickly by constantly revising what I’m presenting.

What drew you to music therapy?

I was talking with a friend from home who was going to the University of Miami for music therapy and I didn’t know what music therapy was at that point. She explained how it was like an intersection between music and psychology and I remember thinking, “That’s amazing”. It also came at a great time because I was at a crossroad with microbiology, I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I did some more research on music therapy and decided to transfer the next semester.

What is the most rewarding part of the work?

Being able to be a consistent person is people’s lives is the most rewarding part for me. There are a lot of people that are burned out in the various systems they’re in, so being able to come in and provide some positivity, even if it’s bi-weekly or monthly, is really nice. 

What are your favorite song(s) to play in sessions?

I play a lot of “Blue Suede Shoes” because I’ve turned it into a shaker song (laughs). That one is a lot of fun. I also love playing “You Are My Sunshine” especially in sessions with older adults, because that’s a song everyone knows, no matter what. Everybody sings it and it’s just so lovely to see everyone light up because they’re like, “I know this song!”

Do you have a proud moment within your music therapy journey so far?

I was working with a client who engaged in self-injurious behaviors and their goal was to decrease this behavior for a certain amount of sessions in a row – and we got through four or five sessions in a row without the behavior! 

Favorite books, shows, movies, or podcasts?

I listen to a lot of NBA podcasts and I’m currently reading Game of Thrones (inspired by Billie!) I was binge-watching Jeopardy at once point – it’s really fun to watch trivia shows and see which ones you can get right! I also play a lot of video games – I’m currently playing Apex Legends, which is always a good time.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra?

“Difficult is not impossible.” It’s from a Relient K song, if you know who they are!

What do you do outside of work?

I go out to trivia with my cousins pretty often! Other than that, I go on hikes, play Ultimate Frisbee, and hang out with my cat, Simon.

Which Mr. Men/Little Miss character are you?

Mr. Happy! 

What’s your coffee order?

Just a regular coffee with cream and sugar. 

What would be the title of your memoir?

oof. (laughs)

Three words to describe your job?

Fun, Challenging, Engaging.

Meet the Clinician: AJ Gaudreau, MT-BC

Welcome back to Roman Music Therapy Services’ Meet the Team interviews! Through this series, we will be introducing you to each member of our team, from Music Therapist to Programmatic Specialist, from Administrative Team to our Faculty Supervisor. This is for you to get to know our team, inside and out! Next, we have AJ Gaudreau, MT-BC.

What is your role on the team and how long have you been with RMTS?

I’m a Staff Music Therapist and I’ve been in this position since September of 2021. I was also an intern with RMTS from January to August of 2020, and after internship, I joined the team as a Fee For Service Music Therapist for several months.

What university or college did you go to? What was your primary instrument?

I went to Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. I was involved with the Mid-Atlantic Students Organization during my college years. My performance area was classical voice!

How did your undergraduate experience help to shape you into the therapist you are today?

One of the biggest takeaways I got from my time at Elizabethtown was being an observer. Really focusing on how the music is influencing the client, whether it was emotionally, verbally, behaviorally, etc. It gave a lot of perspective on the different philosophies within music therapy – it helped me to find the perspectives I do identify with as a clinician.

What are your StrengthsFinder strengths and how do they play a part in the work you do?

My strengths are Developer, WOO (Winning Over Others), Empathy, Includer, and Communication. I definitely see Developer in my number one spot  – as therapists we are working on identifying our clients’ strengths and needs and utilize their strengths in a way that is going to address their needs through music. The Developer strength is one I really resonate with, especially when thinking about developing and addressing clients’ strengths. My other strengths really reflect the significance of my relationships with other people as well. I identify very strongly with having those emotional and relationship-building skills in order to promote the strong bonds with everyone I interact with.

What drew you to music therapy?

I had discovered music therapy my sophomore year of high school in a career exploration and it led me down a research rabbit hole. I remember thinking, Oh? This is a thing? I knew I always wanted to go into human service, I was also considering social work at one point, so learning that I could combine music and my love of service work, I was like, Sign me up!

What is the most rewarding part of the work?

I love that I can share my work with others. The very human experiences that I’m able to bear witness to through music is … I don’t like using the word “magical”, but it does feel magical!

What are your favorite song(s) to play in sessions?

Hound Dog, Rock Around the Clock, anything with a blues pattern! I love to vocal improv with my clients to Blues songs. I also love My Wild Irish Rose, Edelweiss, waltzy feel songs. And anything by The Beatles!

Do you have any professional development stories you’d like to share?

Taking more of a leadership role within the company’s program development. But also working in the educational settings has been a huge area of professional development – with programmatic classroom services, IEP work, conducting a SEMTAP (Special Education Music Therapy Assessment Process). Also for me, this is the first real job and so the fact that I’m here and doing this work is something I’m really proud of.

Any personal growth stories?

I’ve definitely grown in professional – and general self-acceptance. Knowing my limitations while also being able to channel them in a way that is productive and beneficial for myself. There’s been a lot of positive change because of this self-acceptance over the past year.

How have you surprised yourself since joining this team?

I think that I can always go bigger! (laughs) Every time I think, this is  a lot, I don’t think I can top thisI always do! I have much more capacity than I give myself credit for.

Favorite books, shows, movies, or podcasts?

I am obsessed with Lord of the Rings. Anything by Tolkien is an instant win for me. I love anything that’s fantasy related… Princess Bride is also a favorite. I also listen to a lot of podcasts about organization and world history.

What do you do outside of work?

I like to hike, play board games (Dungeons and Dragons), and I’m involved in community theatre. And I love to spend time with others!

Which Mr. Men/Little Miss character are you?

  Little Miss Sparkle!

What’s your coffee order?

An iced latte with hazelnut and mocha.

What would be the title of your memoir?

I’ll Figure It Out. (laughs) Because I can never commit to one thing, I’ll just figure it out eventually.

Three words to describe your job?

Collaborative. Forward. Compassionate.

Meet the Clinician: Billie Junget, MT-BC

Welcome back to Roman Music Therapy Services’ Meet the Team interviews! Through this series, we will be introducing you to each member of our team, from Music Therapist to Programmatic Specialist, from Administrative Team to our Faculty Supervisor. This is for you to get to know our team, inside and out! Next, we have Billie Junget, MT-BC.

What is your role on the team and how long have you been with RMTS?

I’m a Staff Music Therapist and the Programmatic Services Trainer. I started my time with RMTS during internship and I’ve been with the team for about three years.

What university or college did you go to? What was your primary instrument?

I went to Charleston Southern University in South Carolina as a euphonium and percussion primary.

How did your undergraduate experience help to shape you into the therapist you are today?

The clinical work I experienced and then the application of that clinical work in my music therapy coursework has definitely contributed to my therapeutic skills now. I was also big into marching band and drumline, so being a part of those ensembles really encouraged my flexibility and adaptability within group settings.

What are your StrengthsFinder strengths and how do they play a part in the work you do?

Empathy, Intellection, Adaptability, Positivity, and Developer. Empathy plays a huge role in the work I do, and also in the greater scheme of my life. I always try to meet people where they are and put myself in other’s shoes. I also find that these strengths play into my listening skills – I like being able to hold space for others in my professional work and in my personal life.

What drew you to music therapy?

I knew I wanted to go into music, but I didn’t want to teach and I didn’t want to perform. But then I learned about music therapy and the way the field uses music to reach goals and make non-musical connections, and that’s what really stuck out to me. Just knowing I can facilitate music and work with it in a way that other professions don’t get to do. Music therapy helps us find our voice and access music in a different way – it’s not just music for personal use, but for everyone.

What is the most rewarding part of the work?

The beautiful connections we have with the people we serve. There aren’t a lot of other professions that get to experience music in the way we do and it’s so profound! It’s funny because I see some of my clients more than I see my friends and family (laughs) but that speaks to the impact of the work we do. The smiles on our community’s faces when they enter the musical space – that’s the most rewarding part.

What are your favorite song(s) to play in sessions?

I love playing anything by The Beatles. I also love Rockin’ Robin and Dancing Kids (a favorite song here at RMTS)!

Do you have any professional development stories you’d like to share?

Professional development is such a big part of our team culture that I can’t pick just one story! I think that an area of my professional development that is cool to share is my journey of stepping into the Interim Internship Director role. Going from being an intern with this company to being able to support a current intern was so unexpected, but again – that speaks to my Adaptability strength! Also, now that I am a trainer on the team, it’s been amazing to help facilitate others’ growth within our team.

Any personal growth stories?

In my recent switch to being a full-time clinician, I’ve had to create new organizational systems that work for me and the roles that I’m in. I’ve definitely grown in my ability to find ways to maximize my workflow and organize my time.

How have you surprised yourself since joining this team?

This is a hard one! I think I’ve surprised myself by just – throwing myself into things. For example, I was never a singer, but now I sing all day, every day! Also wanting to do new things and strengthening areas of growth within myself has also been very surprising.

What is your proudest moment within the company so far?

I’m really proud of the Weekly Wins board I started! It’s a space for the team to celebrate our wins and ourselves. I’m also proud of the presentations I’ve been able to share with the team, which fits into my Intellection strength! Being able to share my knowledge and teach others something new is something I’m definitely proud of.

Favorite books, shows, movies, or podcasts?

I’m a big “Game of Thrones” fan. I watched the show first and got hooked, then I read the books (and are re-reading them!). Watching the show first definitely helped me keep track of all the characters in the book. I’m also watching Legendary, it’s a vogue/ballroom dance show that’s so fun.

Favorite quote?

“If nothing ever moves, put that needle to the groove and sing.” – Dr. Dog, The Breeze

What do you do outside of work?

I just like being a Taurus (laughs). I like relaxing, hammocking in different parks, and long-boarding.

Which Mr. Men/Little Miss character are you?

Little Miss Can’t Parallel Park. It’s not a real Mr. Men/Little Miss character, but it’s the one I most identify as (laughs).

What’s your coffee order?

So I don’t really drink coffee/caffeine, but when I’m at Dunkin’, I love a good iced tea lemonade. Raspberry, specifically.

What would be the title of your memoir?

Shamrock and Roll. or… Rhythm and Blues.

Three words to describe your job?

Lead. Connect. Grow.

Books You Can Sing!

As clinicians, adding novelty to our repertoire is key to promoting a healthy and engaging therapeutic relationship with our clients. One way to do this, that may not always be thought of, is through using books! For clinicians, caregivers, and teachers alike, books that can be sung are a great way to practice reading, reinforce learning, and embed other goal areas into one story.

Singable Books

Head to Toe by Eric Carle

This book doesn’t have a specific melody, but this is the perfect opportunity to flex your songwriting skills! “Head to Toe” is fantastic for animal identification, body awareness, and so easy to incorporate movement into. Did someone say it’s time to stomp like an elephant? Or slither like alligator?




It’s Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr

Parr’s books are classics in the world of early childhood literature. The bright color scheme and childlike illustrations are just some of the benefits of opening up a Todd Parr book. This is another book without a fixed melody, but again, gives you the opportunity to create a memorable melody with your client, child, or student! Within each page, you can embed different objectives or experiences. Let’s count how many teeth are in his mouth! What animal do you see on the page? What planet is this? Parr’s books are visually stimulating and inclusive to everyone.



The Animal Boogie by Debbie Harter

“The Animal Boogie” is a book with a pre-established melody (yay!). What’s cool about this book is that you can incorporate the movements of each animal into a little dance party on each page! With a pre-established melody, you can spend more time on reading fluency, since the structure is already created for you. Plus, it’s a blast to sing boogie oogie oogie during each chorus!



Here are a few more books based off popular songs!

Good Vibrations: A Children’s Picture Book – The Beach Boys

Octopus’s Garden – Ringo Starr of The Beatles

Respect: A Children’s Picture Book – Otis Redding (Did you know he wrote the original song?)

Happy! – Pharrell Williams

Every Little Thing – Bob Marley

Sweet Child o’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses

Happy singing and reading!

Summer Recap!

As we inch closer and closer to the Fall solstice, it’s hard to believe this summer’s already over! I hope your summer was filled with hikes, bike rides, melty ice cream, and lots of memorable beach days. At RMTS, we definitely kept ourselves busy over these past few months! Here’s a little recap of what we’ve been up to!


We kicked off June with the PALS Karaoke night! PALS was started as a way for the RMTS team to recognize and celebrate the clients, stakeholders, families, and community members who help us do our jobs each day. The PALS Karaoke Night was full of singing, dancing, and wonderful memories with our RMTS community members!

This June also brought the Music Explorers Jr. Summer Program! This program, led by A.J. Gaudreau, MT-BC, was a week-long musical summer experience for ages 5-7. During this week, group members learned about new musical genres, wrote their own music, and went on a quest to find the golden ukulele!



July was jam-packed, as the RMTS team began Extended School Year (ESY) services in districts across the Metro West region! The Extended School Year is an opportunity for students receiving related services, (such as occupational therapy or physical therapy) to continue these services for eight weeks during the summer. ESY services are a fantastic way for our team to stay connected with the students in these districts, even as the summer rolls on!

In July, we also welcomed Sean FitzGerald, MT-BC, onto the RMTS team! A native of Nashua, NH, Sean has been a wonderful addition to the team! You may have seen him in and out of sessions as he observed other therapists, and we’re excited to see him grow within the organization. Welcome, Sean!


This August, RMTS participated in the TADpole 10 Event at the Boston Common! A.J. Gaudreau, Meredith Pizzi, and Michelle Dumas joined families in music-making on August 18th. The TADpole 10 program was created to promote healthy and educational activities during the summer while also enjoying the beautiful Boston Common space. To learn more about the TADpole 10 program, you can check out their website here.


Sprouting Melodies providers, Katie Bagley, A.J. Gaudreau, and Favor Chujor joined the co-creators of Sprouting Melodies, Meredith Pizzi and Elizabeth Schwartz, for a day in the recording studio! Together, they re-recorded several of the Sprouting Melodies videos used to help train music therapists around the world in early childhood music-making. Caregivers, if you’re interested in what Sprouting Melodies can provide for you and your little one, you can learn more about the classes here. Clinicians, if you’re looking to expand your early childhood toolbox, you can register for the Sprouting Melodies Training here!

In August, we also welcomed Cheyenna Eagle, MT-BC, to the team! Chey joins our team from Rochester, New York, where she practiced music therapy and also taught community music lessons. We’re so thankful to have Cheyenna join our organization and we’re excited to see her share her talents with us. Welcome, Cheyenna!

As we head into the fall, be on the lookout for more blog posts and updates from the RMTS team!

Meet the Clinician: Emily Hawley, MT-BC

Hello and welcome to the first installment of Roman Music Therapy Services’ Meet the Team interviews! Through this series, we will be introducing you to each member of our team, from Music Therapist to Programmatic Specialist, from Administrative Team to our Faculty Supervisor. This is for you to get to know our team, inside and out! First off, we have Emily Hawley, MT-BC.


What is your role on the team and how long have you been with RMTS?

I am one of the Lead Music Therapists and I’ve been with RMTS just under three years.

What university or college did you go to? What was your primary instrument?

I went to Anna Maria College and I was a vocalist.

How did your undergraduate experience help to shape you into the therapist you are today?

During my senior year, there was a lot of focus on self-care of the therapist, along with self-awareness. The self-awareness piece of being a therapist is huge for me. I had a really close-knit cohort, it was a super supportive environment. Plus, we had a lot of opportunities for networking.

What are your StrengthsFinder strengths and how do they play a part in the work you do?

Restorative, Ideation, Input, Adaptability, and Empathy. I’m definitely a creative problem solver, which is where the Restorative strength comes in. With Input, I love learning more and taking in as much information as possible. And Empathy obviously comes into play with the work that I do, being a part of a team has empowered this strength, too.

What drew you to music therapy?

I went to an arts high school part-time and took my music classes there. My choir director’s sister is a music therapist and came in to talk to us about music therapy, which was the first time I heard about it. When it was time to think about what I wanted to do after high school, I was looking on the AMTA (American Music Therapy Association) website and found the definition of music therapy and also what a music therapist could look like. I felt like the description sounded like me! (laughs) I love people, psychology, and music, so it felt like a good fit.

What is the most rewarding part of the work?

Seeing clients’ growth throughout the process. Also seeing the skills that they do differently, or even better (!), when music is a part of their support system.

What are your favorite song(s) to play in sessions?

I love playing a mashup of “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles and “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens, that’s a fun one. I also love to improvise and finding new songs through the improvisation.

Do you have any professional development stories you’d like to share?

The biggest area I’ve grown professionally is definitely in my administrative skills! With learning to get organized, I’m truly understanding the full picture of what it means to be a music therapist, outside of clinic work. Also taking initiative, advocating for clients, getting my documentation in on time, communication, all of those administrative things.

Any personal growth stories?

A few years ago, a colleague said, “You would be great as a supervisor or lead music therapist!” and that was a role I didn’t think I would have the skills to do, but now, here I am in that role! I’ve grown a lot in my clinical skills and administrative skills. Also, being a part of this collaborative environment. There’s been a lot of growth!

How have you surprised yourself since joining this team?

Being a supervisor to practicum students. There’s always that initial fear of like, “Do I really have enough knowledge to offer these students?” but then, I realized that I did and it’s been great.

What is your proudest moment within the company so far?

Again, I am really proud of my organizational skills and self-discipline. I’m really proud of getting this promotion (as Lead Music Therapist), my full caseload, but always getting my notes in on time and fulfilling everything I need to do!

Favorite books, shows, movies, or podcasts?

Criminal Minds, that’s been my show for a little bit. And reality dating shows (laughs). I don’t listen to podcasts a ton, but when I do, they’re spirituality-based.

Favorite quote?

“The world is big, I am small. My problems are small, so why am I worried?” That quote always helps to put things in perspective for me.

What do you do outside of work?

I like to eat! I also like to spend time with my family, especially my nieces. Going swimming, relaxing, all that good stuff.

Which Mr. Men/Little Miss character are you?

Mr. Happy T-Shirt   Mr. Happy!

What’s your coffee order?

A medium iced mocha, extra extra cream and sugar. I actually started drinking coffee when Dunkin’ had a pistachio/mocha flavor, but they don’t have it anymore (laughs). But that would be the preferred order.

What would be the title of your memoir?


Three words to describe your job?

Meaningful. Collaborative. Supportive.

Labor Day Weekend Events!

It’s hard to believe we’re already in the month of September and it’s even harder to believe that Labor Day weekend is just around the corner! In case you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, here are a few events for you and your family to check out!

The Bread and Roses Heritage Festival was created to celebrate the ethnic diversity and labor history in Lawrence, MA. This day is filled with music, dance, drama, ethnic food, and historical demonstrations. If your family is full of history buffs, this is the festival for you.

The Institute of Contemporary Art was founded as the sister institution to New York’s MoMa as a way to bring innovative art to the city of Boston. The museum, which overlooks Boston’s waterfront, is a great way to introduce little ones to new forms of art (and to stay cool in the AC!).  You can reserve your tickets for Free Admission Day at 10am on September 4th in the link above!

The Marlborough Labor Day Parade is one of New England’s biggest Labor Day celebrations! This year marks the parade’s 70th year of tradition and is filled with live music, memorable floats, and community pride.

 If you’re looking for something to do when the sun goes down, then this GLOW party is for you! KOA Holiday hosts a Glow party filled with dancing, music, and of course, glow sticks! Located on the Cape Cod KOA campgrounds, this dance party is sure to be a hit.

Enjoy your long weekend and the warm weather, everyone! 

Summer Music Explorers Begins Next Week

Calling All Explorers

We are excited to offer children ages 5-7 a multi-day summer program in our center!

Sign up today for our Junior Music Explorers Program happening June 27th-June 30th from 9AM-noon. During your little one’s time, they will explore different genres of music, get crafty, get creative and have lots of fun socializing with their peers. Perfect for the kiddo who likes music and creating, this program will provide them with a few hours exploring with their new friends as they look for the “golden ukulele”. Our Explorers program will be led by one of our Sprouting Melodies providers, AJ Gaudreau.

To register, or find out more information, visit our website!

15th Anniversary Karaoke Celebration!

15 Years of Music

Our 15th anniversary would be cause for celebration at any time, but holds extra meaning after navigating almost two years of a global pandemic. Throughout our 15 years of business, the music and the community we create through making music together has been a driving force for all of us. Whether you have joined us for Sprouting Melodies, a karaoke event or have had a family member participating in weekly individual sessions, your voice has been part of our ongoing story.

Over the last few months we have been collecting those stories, told by many members of our community in their own words. It has been an emotional experience listening to how music therapy, and the Roman Music Therapy Services team, has played a role in the lives of our clients, program directors, teachers and families. We have been touched and humbled by your words.

On December 17th, we will share those words through a video release celebration at our first in person karaoke in two years. We are excited to invite the diverse communities that we work with to an evening of celebration and song! Karaoke will be held at Onset School of Music at 4 Audubon Rd, Wakefield, MA. We will also have a virtual option for those that would like to participate but are not able to be in person. This karaoke event is free but does require pre-registration. We will also require in person attendees to wear a mask, unless they are part of an exempt group. Please join us virtually if you are feeling sick or have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

We look forward to seeing you all  there! Register online!

Delivering COVID Care packages

It’s official–the care packages are out the door!

Back in December 2020, we reached out to the Roman Music Therapy community about donations for care packages. As part of our partnership with Raising the Blues, Ltd., we hoped to gather both musical and non-musical items to deliver to the group homes we currently serve. Now, we’re proud to announce that as of March 2021, those packages have been put together and and are being delivered.

Over the past few months, we have been working hard to gather the items for these care packages. Raising the Blues–a non-profit that brings music and instruments to children with unique life challenges–was our biggest supporter. They provided over $3,000 worth of instruments including drums, shakers, keyboards, ukuleles, and more.

Our Roman Music Therapy Services community also got involved. Many folks generously donated other items such as adult coloring books, CDs, puzzles and games, and crafting supplies. All donations were put to good use. Once everything was gathered, our team to assemble and deliver the completed packages to the 32 group homes we serve.

A Labor of Love

This project was a labor of love for all involved. From the folks at Raising the Blues who donated instruments to our own staff who put in time and effort to assemble and drop off each package, everyone worked hard to see it through.

We wanted to undertake this effort as a way to support the group homes we work with. Across the state, these facilities have been under significant pressure over the past year of the pandemic. Research shows people living in residential group homes may be at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. Quarantining and managing social isolation have been big challenges for both staff and residents alike. Not only are the clients of these residences isolated and vulnerable, but the staff that care for them are under the constant strain of keeping themselves and their clients safe.

At Roman Music Therapy Services, our purpose as an organization is to spread experiences of shared joy through music making. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us, forcing us to shift and adapt to new ways of serving our clients and community. This project, in partnership with Raising the Blues, is one way we hope to bring some fun, joy and spontaneity into each group home we serve. We also think the residents are going to be very excited to use their own instruments in our music therapy sessions!

While we have not been able to go out and visit clients in-person like we used to, our goal is to keep the music playing. Thank you to our community and Raising the Blues for collaborating on this project and helping us serve our clients. Even in the midst of a pandemic, the music continues on!

PALS Awardee Celebration

Partners and Advocates

Last year, we began an initiative which aimed to recognize the stakeholders, directors, caregivers, educators and staff that we

 work with everyday. Music therapy doesn’t happen without the support and advocacy of many people and organizations in our communities. The PALS Recognition program is our way to thank the individuals in our communities who help make music therapy services possible! 

Each month, the members of our team nominate PALS (Partners, Advocates, Leaders, Supporters) and awardees are chosen. At the end of 2020, we thought it would be a great idea to honor all of our awardees with what we do best, a community music making event! 


Leaders and Supporters

Through Zoom, we were able to gather forty Roman Music Therapy Services staff members, PALS awardees, program directors, CEO’s, supervisors, family and friends to celebrate the contributions and impact folks made all year.

Thank you to all of our past PALS awardees! Special thanks to the Executive and management teams at The Provider’s Council, Bridgwell, Shriner’s and Advocates for attending this event and celebrating your team’s recipients!

DIY Instruments

Many of our clients use technology to continue music therapy, virtually. The virtual space has been vital for maintaining continuity of care and connections. For shared instrument play, it sometimes gets a little tricky. Apple hasn’t quite come up with a way to pass instruments back and forth through the iPad…yet! Until then, our intern and veteran music teacher, Tony Varga, has some great DIY instrument suggestions.

These instruments would be appropriate for adults and children, with some supervised help. As Tony points out:

The process of making their own instrument is a monumental experience that can help your child feel a sense of self accomplishment, independence, and satisfaction, all three supporting self-esteem and life skill goals associated with music therapy.”

The following scale can be used to determine difficulty before starting any of these projects:

1. Simple, requires minimal to no adult intervention. 

2. Moderate, requires some adult intervention to assist with scissors, measuring etc.  

3. Advanced, requires adult intervention to supervise details or safety with instrument  


Do you want to make some instruments? YES!

Kazoo: Difficulty 1 to 2

 Double reed straw: Difficulty 1 to 2 

 Pan flute: Difficulty 2 to 3 

 String o phone: Difficulty 2 to 3 

 Various: Difficulty 1 to 3 

 If you are looking for a place to try out your DIY instruments, then join us for our Holiday Sing-A-Long next Friday, December 11th at 6:30PM. Registration is required:


Music Therapy Services in Schools

Returning to Services

Typically, September brings with it a flurry of work as we shore up new school contracts for service, reestablish ourselves in classrooms and get into the “back-to-school” groove. Just like so many in the community, this fall has looked a lot different for us. With just 15 school districts planning to fully reopen in mid-September, we already knew that our role in providing services to groups in schools or to children receiving services through their IEP’s would be different.  

This was further confirmed when the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released their guidance around singing in classes. Though there is still debate over this topic, DESE has taken the position that singing increases viral spread and cannot be done indoors. While our music therapists have been conducting sessions remotely with great success, we have been thinking through the many ways we can still deliver in person services while using music safely.  

Getting Creative

Some of the ways in which our team can use music therapeutically without singing or having students sing are: 

  • Drumming and instrument play: by having clients play instruments and facilitating interventions that allow for leadership and turn taking, we can help students work towards goals 
  • Pre-recorded music: using recorded music allows music therapists and clients to experience the benefit of pre-composed songs while adhering to DESE guidelines 
  • Non-singing interventions: song writing can help students and groups express feelings and create community while working on communication and verbal skills 

The last six months have taught many of us that adaptation and creativity is necessary. There are still people who need services, despite the limitations on what we can do. Roman Music Therapy Services is ready to meet the challenges of this fall and serve our clients to meet their goals!  

If you have a child or work in a school district and are interested in learning more about how music therapy can help, please contact us today. 




Virtual Karaoke This Friday

Dancing Queens and Kings of Rock Needed!

Join us this Friday for another Virtual Karaoke Party hosted by our music therapists on Zoom. The music begins at 6:30PM. Our team has a night full of fun, song and dance planned to help everyone get into a weekend groove! Sign up on our website to receive all of the Zoom sign in info.


Get Your Props Ready For Group Songs

  • Dancing Queen – find something that makes you feel like royalty! Let’s see those dancing Kings and Queens
  • Call Me Maybe – Be ready to answer that banana phone, or cell, or whatever you have to make a call… maybe!
  • Can’t Stop that Feeling – Jump into the feeling of fall by putting on your coziest sweater, scarf, or whatever get’s you in the mood for a fall dance party


July PALS Honorees

We are pleased to honor the recipients of our July PALS recognition program. PALS (Partners, Advocates, Leaders, Supporters) was conceived as a way for our team at Roman Music Therapy Services to recognize the constituents, stakeholders, family members and community members who help us do our job every day. The populations with which we work often rely on the passion and advocacy of others, who go above and beyond in the fight to provide service and access to undeserved and vulnerable populations.

Howard Fineman, a SCORE Certified Business Mentor with the SCORE Association, was nominated by two of our team members, Michelle Dumas and Meredith Pizzi. They both highlighted his constant and invaluable mentorship. Howard is always available to offer support, to answer questions or to provide resources. While he began as Meredith’s mentor, the entire administrative team has felt the benefits of Howard’s expertise and support, especially during COVID-19.

Emily Lane, a Program Director at Neville Place, was nominated by Callie Hensler. Emily has been an invaluable ally during the transition to virtual sessions. Her proactive approach to keeping music therapy going for the memory care units, as well as her willingness to help during sessions are just a few reasons we are recognizing Emily this month!

Kathleen Sharp is a caregiver advocate nominated by Emily Hawley. Whether it is getting instruments or pushing for funding or joining in on the music making, Kathleen’s dedication elevates and enriches the work that we do.

Katherine Powell of Career Resources Corporation was nominated by AJ Gaudreau, and our final July PALS award recipient. Katherine’s constant communication amidst transitioning to virtual sessions, her initiative in helping residents make their own instruments, and her innovation at integrating more music into CRC’s programming are reasons why she has been recognized this month.

To all of our PALS recipients, thank you for the work you do and the difference you make!

Approved Resources

The Search for Safe Content


It’s no doubt that the internet and digital technology have been utilized now more than ever as we all do more from home. Whether you are looking for entertainment, educational programs or skill development, a Google search or Facebook scan could send you down a rabbit hole of virtual offerings. Not to mention that vetting the long list of results takes up more time than any of us has right now.

Our music therapists have done the curating for you!

They have taken the various Aps and websites they already use with clients and searched out more relevant resources for our clients and constituents. These sheets are great resources for families, individuals and caretakers to reference when they are looking for safe and stimulating recreational and educational opportunities online. Many of the resources are free.

Our Approved Resource Sheets are broken out into age appropriate groups and by categories such as music, movement, connection, education, etc.

Here’s a sample of some of the suggestions you might find in these resources:






These resources will be available to anyone who signs up to receive our e-Newsletter. Sign up today!

Safe, Simple, Social and Sentimental

Magical Musical Moments for Seniors

Summer is settling in and many of us are ready to find ways to introduce normalcy back into our lives. Whether it is gathering outside safely with our friends or family, or visiting a favorite beach or park, we are taking small steps toward meeting each other again. Nice weather and the ability to socialize provide so many mental health benefits for those lucky enough to come out of the isolation COVID-19 has imposed on our country and the world. Finally, this harsh winter is starting to thaw!

Unfortunately, those communities that remain vulnerable to the devastating effects of COVID-19 must remain diligent in their protection from infection.  This means that many of us are missing the most treasured members of our family: our parents, grandparents, older aunts and uncles. If a loved one is in a care facility, those responsible for their safety continue to operate under tight restrictions, making even a visit almost impossible. Continued isolation and loneliness can lead to cognitive decline. For those of us who have older adults in our lives, choosing between what is best for them physically over what might be best for them mentally is hard and heartbreaking.

No matter what your age is, the need for human connections remains strong. Despite all of the barriers, we have been exploring ways to bring families and loved ones together through the sharing of music, memories and joy. Our virtual services can create a safe entrance into the rooms of our loved ones during these challenging times.

                Opening doors to new possibilities and potential, through active and engaged music making experiences.


Benefits of Online Music Experiences

Making and actively listening to music can break up a quiet day for older adults living at home or in an assisted living facility. These activities can also have very real mental and physical health benefits:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Promotes memory recall
  • Decreases pain and discomfort
  • Elevates mood and emotional state
  • Increases creativity and self-expression

How Could I Be Involved

While making or listening to music alone also has benefits, the difference with music therapy is the personal connections forged and strengthened in sessions. Your presence and participation in virtual sessions with your elderly loved ones could provide opportunities for:

  • Connection and socialization
  • Reminiscing about meaningful songs and life events
  • Sharing in musical experiences through singing, playing, or simply listening and relaxing
  • Life review and sharing of family values and culture

Online musical connections facilitated by a music therapist can be simple, safe, social and sentimental!

  • Simple: An individual or facility would need a video compatible device (tablet, iPad, laptop) and an internet connection while we take care of the rest
  • Safe: Tablets and computers can be easily disinfected before and after sessions, making them accessible to a number of residents in one community
  • Social: With new cases of COVID being reported each day, seniors have little opportunity to engage safely with others, even their own families
  • Sentimental: Board Certified Music Therapists are specifically trained to foster connections through the very meaningful medium of music

Are you personally frustrated with brief, restrictive, outdoor visits?

Do you know someone missing a family member or friend?

Do you work in or with facilities that could take advantage of these services?

In an effort to reach and support the community, we are now offering a complimentary consultation call with one of our music therapists to discuss how music therapy can create new possibilities for connections with loved ones.

How can we be of service to YOU and those you love, or the families you work with? Let’s connect!


Our June 2020 PALS

Partners. Advocates. Leaders. Supporters

There are times when we meet people in the community who immediately understand the impact music therapy can make. They are the parents who advocate for music therapy services on their childs IEP, program directors  who advocate fight for music therapy for their residents, and caregivers that know music makes a difference in the life of their loved one. We rely on the support of stakeholders involved, from family members to direct service staff to administrators, to do our job well. Without the efforts of these key change makers, we wouldn’t be able to have the powerful musical moments we have. That is why we are so pleased to honor some of these folks each month!

Our June PALS

KATELYNNE MACKIE , Charles River Center 

Katelynn is the Director of Family Support Services at CRC and was nominated by Maureen Young, MT-BC. Katie helped set up a weekly family group for kiddos with ASD and provided needed support when conveying the needs of enrolled families. She was also a vital collaborator on  goals/objectives. Of working with Katelynn, Maureen said, “It has been so wonderful to have her support as we all navigated starting this new group, and to know we have her support going forward as well. She is doing a wonderful job being present for families during this time and advocating for services that can benefit them”.


Aimee was nominated by Marcie Rozek-Arena, MA, MT-BC. She is a parent advocate who made it possible for 27 student music therapy sessions to occur in her child’s school district in June. It was her requests and communications with school administrators, and tenacious follow ups, that made it possible for her child to be a trial for virtual music therapy sessions. When those sessions proved to be successful, the district resumed services, virtually, with other students. Aimee’s devotion to her child, upbeat persistence, and her enthusiasm were instrumental in resuming music therapy. Her advocacy has been an example and a service to other students, parents, and families. 

 LYN ONEIL, Special Ed Director of Wakefield Public Schools

Her response to getting virtual groups going was, “Yes, anything you can do for our kids would be great!” She also connected us to the Preschool Director in town and is funding four extra groups for music therapy services. She has supported professional development trainings for her staff and has promoted our services to other districts. 

KYLIE BAKER, St. Patrick’s Manor

Kylie was nominated for her diligence with clients and caring touch. She goes the extra mile, ensuring that clients work on the physical goals we have in place for each client while we are making music with them virtually.  Jenni Chute, MT-BC, who nominated Kylie, said “She has been in contact with my client’s family, and helped take a screen shot of our session for them so they could see how much she loves the music.  There have been many helpful staff members at St. Patricks, but Kylie stands out because of her dedication through each visit”.       

The entire team at Roman Music Therapy Services would like to thank all of our June PALS recipients, not only for their dedication to their residents, families or constituents, but for all that they do to support music therapy, whether in person or virtually.

Summer Clubs for Kids

Weekly and Daily Summer Programs

We are excited to be offering Summer Clubs for Kids this July and August! Summer Clubs for Kids encompasses several different programs, depending on age level and frequency of meetings. All of our programs are virtual and many were built to foster independence in attendees, so that mom and dad at home can work while the kids make music!

If you are looking for a program that helps your child find community, create bonds with peers, foster independence and builds upon digital skills they’ve learned through remote school, then these programs are for your family.

Junior Explorer (ages 5 – 7) and Explorers (ages 8 – 10)

This week-long program will be a group theatre experience where each day has a different story for your child to tell! From a “Trip to the Beach,” to a “Voyage to Space,” Explorers will work together to create fantastic short stories using songwriting, dance, costumes, and instruments. This experience will run Monday through Thursday with two time options, 9AM – 10AM or 3PM – 4PM. The first week begins on June 29th, with additional weeks offered in July

Super Sprouts (ages 5 – 7)

This weekly class meets Wednesdays for 4 weeks and is a new addition to our Sprouting Melodies suite of early childhood classes. Whether you are a “graduate” of Sprouting Melodies, or checking it out for the first time, this class will engage your elementary schooler in a whole new way! We will continue to utilize familiar Sprouting Melodies songs and interventions while also incorporating basic music instruction. This integrated group will nurture leadership skills and support social and emotional interactions. We will spend time each week introducing adapted piano instruction to start learning the basic structures of music like rhythm, tempo, and dynamics. Children can use a keyboard or piano at home, easy to download apps on a phone or tablet, or play on a printed picture of keys to get started. 

Techies (ages 10 – 13)

Is your tween looking to perfect their musical tech game, then this is the class to sign up for! Each week we will deep dive into digital apps such as Garage Band, GrooveMaker, etc to create music with others. Use your own device to explore lots of new ways to compose, improvise, and record songs using your iPhone, iPod or iPad. Recommended apps will be shared in advance so that everyone is ready to rock! Come explore the world of digital music-making in this virtual space with us!

Music Therapy Club (ages 3 – 7 and 8 – 12)

Music Therapy Club is a unique musical place where all children can be free to create and join in music making that is specifically tailored to assure engagement, joy and success for all. The focus of this group centers on providing a supportive, facilitated atmosphere for children who need music experiences that take full advantage of individual strengths while minimizing the impact of difficulties.

Junior Explorer and Explorer Summer Series begins Monday, June 29th. Other programs begin July 11th. Register for all of our programs online!

That Post Karaoke Glow

When we plan events or programs, we always go into them hoping that the people who attend will have fun, receive some benefit and experience community. Anyone who has been to one of our live karaoke events knows they are lively! Our next karaoke was to be in May, honoring staff and caregivers, but then COVID-19 hit. Like the rest of the world, we adapted to this new normal. For us, that was transitioning to virtual music therapy sessions. As our staff and our clients grew more comfortable with the technology required, we revisited our karaoke event.

Karaoke Goes Virtual

Virtual Karaoke

Emily Hawley, Kim Schlesinger and AJ Gaudreau managed the virtual event on May 29th. Of her experience, Kim says “I was humbled to see people bravely share their favorite songs, rock out on some homemade instruments, show off their dance moves, and support one another. Throughout the evening, participants sent encouraging messages in the chat, unmuted their microphones to encourage performers, and applauded for everyone”.  At one point, 21 different accounts logged on through Zoom, participating in singing, cheering and grooving.

One attendee’s caregiver told us

The minute I mentioned Roman Music is having a Karaoke night J wanted to join in. He knew it would be on Zoom and I told him even if you wanted to just join in for an hour but he was on for the whole time and loved it. He posted pictures of himself on Facebook because he was so proud and had a great time. I’m grateful for these opportunities thru Music for J, especially at this time. It was a great night. 

Emily saw the event as a “beautiful display of community through music and shared experience”.  Thanking our caregivers remained the theme for the night and all participants joined together in creating a song to sing together. The night ended with the sharing of the completed, group song. 

June 5, 2020

The tragic murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all of the egregious events of the past few weeks represent a critical culmination of centuries of injustice.

While our impulse is to act and speak out against these heinous acts and the systems which allow them to go unchecked, we recognize that it is more important to listen. The voices of those who have felt and lived the reality of racism, intolerance and inequity must be the ones we listen to as we look to help.

Seeking to uplift the work of Black, Indigenous, People of Color and white allies, and as a means of providing resources for our families and community partners, we encourage everyone to explore these resources and learn more about how we must all be a part of the movement toward an antiracist society.

We are here. We are listening.

Virtual Music Therapy FAQ’S

Have you participated in music therapy in the past but find the idea of virtual sessions intimidating? Has music therapy been suggested to you for a loved one but you aren’t sure how to navigate the virtual technology? If you said yes to either of these questions, you are not alone. Prior to the stay-at-home orders issued in  March and the closing down of in-person services, many folks had not had the opportunity to utilize web-based meeting applications like Zoom.

We are here to tell you that with a little set-up before hand, you can participate in virtual music therapy sessions too

Resources and Answers

If you have a scheduled music therapy session or just want more information, our team has compiled a robust list of frequently asked questions to help you troubleshoot. Check out our Virtual Music Therapy FAQ’s page for help on everything from what to expect to how to participate. If the answer to your question isn’t here our team is available via email and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

If you are ready to schedule a session, contact us today!

Virtual Magical Musical Moments

Rethinking Engagement

Prior to March, we hadn’t envisioned providing music therapy sessions to our clients in a virtual capacity, but as the world rapidly changed, it became clear this was the direction we would need to go if we hoped to maintain connections with our clients. Aside from technology and logistic questions, our largest concern centered around service delivery, and how we would be able to interact with our clients through a device. What would engagement look like? How could we restructure goals to fit new needs? Would the use of an iPad or computer be too distracting for our clients? While we tried to brainstorm solutions to these questions and more, we knew we would just need to dive in and get virtual sessions going and work out the kinks as we went along.

We had to let music chart the course.

Almost two months into this new way of providing services, it is amazing how our clients and stakeholders have adapted. So many of our clients and families have embraced changing the way we conduct sessions, with lots of “magical musical moments” happening.

Rethinking Success

Kim Schlesinger, our intern who graduated in February and officially started her music therapy career amidst a pandemic, has had some amazing sessions with her clients. With one client in particular, she has seen increasing engagement as this person becomes more accustomed to seeing Kim on her computer screen. At the second session, Kim says that this client “called me by name and asked how I was doing, before making multiple song requests”.

The surprises kept coming throughout the session. “I began to strum an introduction and she immediately began to sing the first verse” Kim recounts. “I was floored by her ability to hold the tune, remember all of the lyrics, and sing to my guitar accompaniment as it came out of her speaker while I played from miles away in Illinois. This feat is even more impressive when you understand that she rarely sings independently, sometimes filling in lyrics I leave out or usually just singing along as I vocally lead.”

Our Lead Music Therapist, Maureen Young, had a sweet experience with respite yesterday during a virtual session with a 95-year old client. “I was completely unsure of how she would respond to the technology and if she would remember me” Maureen said. “However, it was truly touching to see her interacting as her usual self, with all the funny jokes, smiles, and sweet questions she asks. I’m sure that for the nursing staff at these facilities, being able to step away for a moment of respite, or to attend to others in need, is truly priceless. For this client, being able to connect with a familiar face, at a time when there is limited ability to connect with others, and she may be disoriented to time and place, is another example of respite.” Maureen also experienced respite for herself, interacting with her client and seeing her respond so well to the music.

While we never envisioned providing services virtually, our clients, stakeholders and families have been so receptive and resilient, it has made the transition that much more successful! We can’t wait to continue to make music with all of you!

Unexpected Musical Magical Moments of Virtual Sprouting Melodies

While this is not the Sprouting Melodies experience that we all expected at the beginning of the session, we have seen so many different benefits that we didn’t even consider would come out of this. I wanted to give you an idea of what we’ve been noticing from our perspective.  

Extending the Family Bonds
We have seen so many new faces that go beyond your children! It has been such a joy seeing siblings, spouses, grandparents, and nannies that we haven’t met engage with the kiddos during the session. Especially with more people working from home, it’s been great to have working parents stop in, even for a few minutes to get setup and going!  One of the main goals we have for our Sprouting Melodies program is to create bonding opportunities and it’s been so special seeing that reach beyond the studio and into your homes.  

Creativity and Flexibility
Another great thing that we’ve been seeing is the creativity you all have! This new way of experiencing Sprouting Melodies has made everyone put their creative minds to work to find household items that can work as shakers, scarves, and drums. We’re really impressed with all the out-of-the-box thinking that’s going on, and our team is challenging ourselves to stay open to the new ideas this format allows for! Eliza shared the idea of using the screen to “disappear” and go out of view, and I tried this in our Friday class. It was so much fun and the kids thought it was so silly! There are so many benefits that can be derived from the flexibility we’ve had all to harness. While it’s under uncertain circumstances, this has been a great time to learn ways to apply the different ways to engage that you and your little ones are familiar with.  

Bringing the Outside World to You
This virtual format for Sprouting Melodies is our way of offering you and your kiddo a connection to the outside world. It’s so easy to feel isolated both physically and socially, but those 45 minutes are a chance to feel a semblance of normalcy and connect with friends who you wouldn’t get the opportunity to connect with otherwise. Our goal is to provide respite for you, whether that means looking forward to joining with your child in making music instead of worrying about house chores or the Coronavirus, or time that you can just let your guard down for a few minutes without worrying about what trouble your toddler might get into! 

Creating Routines
We can all build off this experience and use music as a tool to establish a new routine and sense of normalcy. Try things like singing songs that you know during transitions during the day or take some time to sing a familiar Sprouting Melodies song and really connect with each other. You could even try writing a song to help complete a task or do school work! 

Seeing Things Through Your Child’s Eyes
This is my geek-moment here! I have been leading Sprouting Melodies classes since the day I started the program in 2009, and I have always wished that parents would be able to see the facial expressions that I see when your babies are sitting on your laps and looking at me. Last week in our Sprouting Melodies classes for our littlest ones, I realized that parents with their babies on their lap can see the image on the screen of the baby responding to the music! When I pause or anticipate a musical phrase, or when a baby gets the musical joke for the first time, their expressions are truly delightful, and I’ve always wished that parents could see it too! Now you can! 

Want to try a class? We’d love to have you come see what it’s like for yourself!

Demo a Virtual Sprouting Melodies Class

Delivering Music Therapy During COVID-19

A Secondary Epidemic

We are all connected in our shared experience right now: changing routines, isolating from friends and extended family, working from home and caring for children out of school. Many are anxious about the stability of their jobs, the hemorrhaging of their retirement funds, the health of older parents and the effects of all of this disruption on their young children. As uncertain and disjointed our lives are right now, the upheaval of normal routines is being felt even more acutely by some of the more vulnerable members of our communities.

Seniors, already susceptible to loneliness, are not allowed visitors in their nursing homes, and many facilities have discontinued gathering together in common areas. Isolated in their rooms, these folks are now without the emotional support of their larger community or the comfort of their routine activities.

Similarly, adults and children with disabilities have also seen a disruption to their daily lives, and the support they receive, as day programs suspend services, schools close, jobs are paused and socialization programs are discontinued. As jarring as all of these changes are to the rest of the community, it is multiplied for individuals with special needs, and the families trying to support them.

During this time, physical distancing does not have to mean social distancing. While it is important to create physical space between all of us to stop the spread of COVID-19, we need to maintain social connections however we can. Music can help facilitate and build upon those connections and provide a way to strengthen bonds even during this time of physical distancing.

What a Difference a Week Makes

Last Monday, the management team at Roman Music Therapy Services met in the office for what would be the last time, face to face, for the foreseeable future. By that time, many schools in Massachusetts had already made the decision to close for two weeks, some for more. Many of our senior clients in nursing homes were not allowed any outside visitors and we had made the decision to conduct our Sprouting Melodies early education music programs remotely. At this time last week, things looked a little scary in the short-term, as they probably did for many of you.

As a team, we spent much of the time collaborating and still engaging in the music whenever we could, and strategizing how Roman Music Therapy Services could truly be of service to our clients and the larger community. Virtual music therapy was not something we had done before, but we realized that it was the perfect way for us to provide our clients with the reassurance of a familiar face, and the routine of an enjoyed therapeutic intervention.

Our virtual music therapy sessions can:

· Provide a sense of social and emotional connection

· Decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness

· Promote reciprocal social interactions on both sides of the camera

· Share familiar and comforting music which can provide grounding in a time of uncertainty

· Give primary caregivers a short respite from having to be “on” in caregiver mode all the time

· Provide a scheduled activity to look forward to on the calendar

Virtual Music Therapy in Your Home

Roman Music Therapy Services is equipped and ready to deliver music therapy services to our clients, established and new, virtually. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or computer and we can walk you through the rest! If you’re looking for something particular or trying to solve a unique challenge, let us know. We love to brainstorm and would be happy to try to create new solutions with you.

Visit our website or contact us to learn more about what we can do for you or your group.

Sprouting Melodies in Your Living Room

Friday, March 13, 2020

Over the past few days, we have been closely following the recommendations from the CDC and the Department of Public Health in Massachusetts. We know it’s been a crazy week for everyone, and given the school cancellation for tomorrow, we figured it would be good to try something a little bit different for our classes. Think of it as a way to keep to your normal schedule, connect with friends in your community without the risks, and following the regular routine at a time when we all need that consistency.

We are inviting our Friday Sprouting Melodies Families to join us
for Virtual Sprouting Melodies Classes!


Please look in your email for an invitation to our private class during your regularly scheduled time.  This is not a class that it open to the public! It is just for our enrolled families to continue to make special music time a priority for your family, while minimizing any risk for our little ones, parents, grandparents and caregivers. With many area school districts closed, we know some of you may have older children home with you as well.  Everyone is welcome to join us! Find a cozy spot in your house and let’s get ready to make some music together!


Conference Season!

Starting this Saturday, we enter what we affectionately refer to at Roman Music Therapy as “Conference Season”. The Federation of Children with Special Needs in Boston on February 29th kicks off three months of tabling at various conferences that are either geared toward the populations that we work with, or are professional music therapy conferences.

The Federation of Children with Special Needs “provides information, support, and assistance to parents of children with disabilities, their professional partners, and their communities”. Their conference on the 29th, “Visions of Community”, will be from 7:30am to 4:15pm at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. With workshops focusing on assistive technology, autism, IEP goal setting, self-care, and transition planning, just to name a few, it is a conference that always provides relevant and timely information to families and professionals working with special needs children. Come by our table and find out how music therapy can help you or your child!

partnering to support your clients and teamsA week after the Federation Conference, Meredith will be flying out to Chicago to attend the Great Lakes Regional Music Therapy Conference, which runs March 4 – 7, 2020. There she will be presenting a CMTE on Financial Management, Building Your Music Therapy Dream Team with fellow music therapy business owner Erin Spring, Successfully Scaling Your Dream Business with music therapy business owners Erin Flores and Christina Wood and Keys to a Successful Community Based Early Childhood Program with co-found of Sprouting Melodies, Beth Schwartz. If you are a music therapist or music therapy student attending this conference, be sure to check out one of these presentations or stop by our table in the exhibit hall to learn about upcoming retreats, coaching and internship opportunities.

March 19 – 21, 2020 are the dates for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Music Therapy Conference in Maryland. There, Meredith will be presenting a CMTE on Financial Management, as well as a concurrent on Giftedness with Bronwen Landless.

Roman Music Therapy Services’ Eliza Trickett, MT-BC and Jenni Chute, MT-BC, will attend the Mass Down Syndrome Congress Conference at the DCU Center in Worcester on March 28th. The theme for this conference is “Trailblazers”, and the key note speaker will be Zack Gottsagen of the 2019 hit movie Peanut Butter Falcon. The conference will spotlight research, as well as provide families with tools for communication, collaboration, advocacy, and education.

In April, members of our team will be attending the North Eastern Regional Music Therapy Conference in Stowe, Vermont.

The Massachusetts Early Intervention Consortium Conference at the Best Western in Marlborough on May 4 & 5th culminates this whirlwind season of advocacy, education and ambassadorship. Meredith will be presenting “Music is Developmental” in the afternoon session. The key note speaker for this conference is Emily Perl Kingsley, who has been a writer for Sesame Street for the last 45 years. As a parent of a son with Down syndrome, she speaks about living through the “dark ages”, when professionals advocated for institutionalization rather than support. We have worked with many early intervention professionals in the area as they refer their clients to our Sprouting Melodies program in Wakefield. We hope to see some of them, and you, at the conference!

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.

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 Sprouting Melodies Classes

There are so many benefits to enrolling in Sprouting 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. Here is a snippet of one of our emails:

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).

Sprouting Melodies founder and provider, Meredith, shares a frame drum with several young children.

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 get started with Sprouting Melodies? You can register online or call our 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

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 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.

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 contact us 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!


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!