autism, music, music therapy

Music Therapy in Portland September News

2013-08-29 17.35.24Hello, families. I hope that all is going well as your kids transition into the school year. Music Therapy Services of Portland will continue to hold monthly groups on the 2nd Saturday of the month. Registration for the September 14th groups is available here.

If you’re interested in weekly or bi-weekly groups, please send me an email. There are families already interested and we’re just waiting for the right match for a sustainable music therapy group.

Dr. Petra Kern just released the latest edition of imagine, the online magazine dedicated to early childhood music therapy. There is a special section for parents that might prove helpful. Check it out here: Parents section of imagine.

SpecialCare Planning team just released information about Lights Up Sound Down: Sensory Friendly Movies. They’re showing Cloudy with a side of meatballs on October 5th in Beaverton. This event is free for families with a special needs child.

Finally, here’s the latest edition of My Favorite Apps.

Have a wonderful month and I look forward to seeing many of you soon!

Angie Kopshy

Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC

Music Therapy Services of Portland

music, music therapy

Creating a community through music therapy…and Mickey Hart

6740_1060634051132_6807088_nOne of the longstanding highlights of my week as a music therapist is a small group I facilitate on Thursdays just before lunch. I’ve worked with the same residents for years and established strong bonds with the caretakers as well as the residents. Although the size of the group fluctuates, there are typically 2-4 residents with varying diagnoses. Regardless of the week, there are two wonderful ladies who are the foundation of this group. We shall call them M. & S. to respect their privacy. On a surface level, these two women are strikingly different; from their physical size to the pitch of their voice. S. appears to have extremely sensitive hearing while I almost have to yell at M. and hope she figured the rest out from reading my lips. Because M. remains bedbound almost all of the time, they rarely see one another. Yet their bond continues to grow within our sessions in a way that makes me feel as if I’m the humble recipient of an opportunity to weave the lives of two elderly women into a tangible braid of love and wisdom.

Lately, M. has been experiencing more and more pain. She tries to hide it and puts up a tough front, but there are times when she invites us to join her in her room so that she can stay in bed rather than move to the living room. Meanwhile, S. stumbles in and out of lucidity as she does her best to keep up with the singing, movement and instrument play. As they watch one another from across the circle, the two seem to understand the struggles and pain hidden behind the facade.

While working with them today, I was acutely aware of M.’s labored breathing and quiet grunts of pain she tried to mask with the crescendo of our songs. The intensity of her pain was further magnified when she declined the opportunity to play the buffalo drum – one of her favorite parts of hour together. But I accepted with a nod of acknowledgment and worked with S. on the drum while M. sang along. Shortly thereafter, M. watched as S. struggled to stay awake and needed more and more reinforcement from me in order to make it through even some of her favorite songs. So when I pulled the tamborines out and M. reached out her arm as much as her pain-racked body would allow and said, “Maybe I should play one so S. can see how to do it,” I had to fight back tears of respect, gratitude and humility. These two women are a team and their sense of community is strong.

Towards the end of our hour together, another resident was wheeled in and greeted with enthusiasm that reminded me of an episode of Cheers. And, much to my surprise, a fourth resident appeared at the door singing along to our final songs. Apparently she began singing along in the bathroom, so the caretaker was inspired to add her to the group despite the fact that she almost always declines the offer to join and discreetly wrinkles her nose at the thought. So there we were, three residents in wheelchairs, one in bed and one music therapist with instruments strewn about and guitar in hand, bonding and entraining over the ridiculously challenging melody of The Star Spangled Banner in a small bedroom in Southwest Portland. One small community of love and support within a larger community that I am proud to call home.

imgresAnd Portland is the lucky recipient of another community oriented man who is striving to bring attention to the manner in which the body responds to rhythm and vibration. Mickey Hart is playing at the Roseland Theatre tonight. Yes, that would be the incredible percussionist who played with Grateful Dead.  He is also an incredibly strong advocate of music therapy. In fact, his latest work with Dr. Adam Gazzaley,  is revolutionary. Mickey himself says, “I’ve been working in my field for many years and so has Adam, it’s a handshake between science and art. Life is all about rhythm, and the brain is Rhythm Central.”

Tonight Mickey will perform a piece featuring the sounds of his own brain while wearing an EEG cap so we can visualize his brain activity in real time. Check this video out to get a better idea of what we’re talking about. Then come to the show! And say hi to me at my music therapy booth. Join us in celebrating the unity of music and science with the community. Thank you for the opportunity to share more about music therapy at your show, Mickey!


autism, music therapy, music therapy for autism

Music Therapy Services of Portland receives generous grant

angiegrantMusic Therapy Services of Portland was just awarded a generous grant from WRAMTA – the Western Chapter of the American Music Therapy Association. This grant will enable MTSP to hire a consultant to assist with streamlining an insurance reimbursement process and music therapist, Dawn Iwamasa, to assist with the organization and culmination of our efforts. We look forward to educating our Western Region colleagues upon completion of this project and using this grant to serve more of the Oregon community!