Meet Our TeamBoard-Certified Music Therapists
Mary Altom, MT-BC
Owner, Music Therapist
Sound Starts Music was established by Mary Altom, a board certified music therapist, in 2011 to provide music therapy and adapted music lessons for children with special needs. Giving students opportunities to learn through music is Mary’s passion, and she is a firm believer that music is a language that transcends DIS-ability and creates A-bility.
In addition to Sound Starts Music, her private practice in Frisco, TX, Mary serves as Client Services Manager for Music Therapy Services of Texas and provides evaluations and contractual music therapy services to school districts across the DFW metroplex.
Mary earned her certification as a Neurologic Music Therapist (NMT) through intense training at Colorado State University. Mary completed her music therapy internship with MusicWorx of California under the supervision of Dr. Barbara Reuer and graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in Music – Music Therapy in 2007.
Mary is an active member of the American Music Therapy Association and the Southwestern Region American Music Therapy Association. She enjoys attending national and regional conferences each year and has presented at regional conference. Mary is married to Ben and they have two children – Jaxon (6) and Lily (2). She enjoys reading and pinterest crafting in her spare time.
Samantha Lowry, MT-BC
Music TherapistSamantha Lowry is a recent graduate from West Texas A & M University with her Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. Throughout her educational career, she has worked with a wide variety of clientele and discovered that serving school-aged children is her preferred and strongest area of practice. Samantha completed her internship spring of 2015 at Hurst-Euless-Bedford I.S.D. near Fort Worth. Her experience at Hurst-Euless-Bedford I.S.D reinforced her calling to work with the school-aged population. She enjoys using familiar songs and writing new materials to target specific goals as well as engaging her clients in improvisational music making. Her love of music and desire to help others is what brought her to Sound Starts Music! Samantha loves sharing her passion for music with the families at Sound Starts Music!
Jamie Rifkin, MT-BC
Music TherapistJamie Rifkin is a recent graduate from The University of Kansas with her Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. During her studies, Jamie got the opportunity to study music therapy in Thailand and learn to work with clients of differing backgrounds including older adults and children in an orphanage. She completed her internship in June 2017 at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas where she worked with a wide variety of populations including NICU, Oncology, PICU, Cardiac, and Psychiatry. She has a love of learning, sharing music with others, and helping other people grow through music. She is eager to bring music to as many people as possible in the local community. In her free time Jamie enjoys reading, being in nature, and hanging out with family and friends.
Melissa Heffner, MT-BC
Music TherapistMelissa Heffner has been a board certified music therapist since August 2013. In her work in Ohio, West Virginia, and the DFW area, she has served children and adults with autism and developmental and intellectual disabilities as well as older adults with dementia. She holds a Master of Music in Music Therapy degree from Ohio University and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance degree from Eastern Washington University. She is fascinated by the connection between music and language, and her master’s thesis study involved collaboration with a speech-language pathology graduate student. Melissa is excited to be part of a wonderful team of music therapists and bring her passion of using music to support the needs of clients to Sound Starts Music Therapy. She is from Washington State and loves being near water, watching movies, rooting for her favorite Washington sports teams, and hanging out with her husband and greyhound dog.
Music TherapistTyler Smith is a recent graduate of Sam Houston State University majoring in Music Therapy. Tyler is a percussionist and was a drummer for the SHSU jazz lab band. Plano, Texas is his home, so he is excited to be back serving in this community. He is recently married so in his free time he enjoys spending time with his wife, Madison, watching movies, playing ping-pong, and watching the sunset. Tyler is excited to lead The Band Experience at Sound Starts.
Music Therapy Intern
Paige Watts is a graduate equivalency student at Texas Woman’s University, working toward a master’s degree in music therapy. She is completing her degree requirements by interning with Sound Starts Music Therapy. Paige graduated from Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama, with a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance in 2010. In her free time, Paige enjoys painting, watching movies, and spending time with her husband Rick and her dog Grover. Paige is excited for the opportunity to share music and learn more about music therapy at Sound Starts!
Specially Designed Songs & Strategies
Client Centered Services
Evidence Based Practice
Clients Served Each Week
Music Therapists on our Team