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 can help every individual reach their fullest potential.
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 three children – Jaxon (8), Lily (4), and Owen (baby). She enjoys reading and pinterest crafting in her spare time.
Watch Ms. Mary’s Facebook video here.
Samantha Lowry, MT-BC
Center Clinical Director, Music Therapist
Samantha Lowry is a graduate from West Texas A & M University with her Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. As Center Clinical Director, she oversees all things related to our center-based services in Frisco and Grapevine! Throughout her 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!
Watch Ms. Samantha’s Facebook video here.
Jorja Benjamin, MT-BC
Internship Director, Music Therapist
Jorja Benjamin has been a board-certified Music Therapist since July 2016. She graduated from Southwestern Oklahoma State University with her Music Therapy degree with an emphasis in voice. As internship director, Jorja runs our internship program and coordinates all practicum placements for local students. Jorja worked with medically fragile kids during her internship at The Children’s Center Rehabilitation Hospital in Oklahoma City. She has served children with special needs, adults with special needs, and children on the Autism Spectrum. Jorja was a Registered Behavior Technician ABA Therapist for a year. She is so excited to be part of a wonderful Music Therapy team and serve the families of North Texas! Jorja is from Amarillo, TX and loves bowling, darts, and learning new music.
Watch Ms. Jorja’s Facebook video here.
Tyler Smith, MT-BC
Community Clinical Director, Music Therapist
Tyler Smith is a 2018 graduate of Sam Houston State University majoring in Music Therapy. As Community Clinical Director, Tyler completes school evaluations and oversees services provided at our schools and other outside organizations! 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.
Watch Mr. Tyler’s Facebook video here.
Our TEAM MUSIC THERAPISTS
Carlee Efeney, MT-BC
Carlee Efeney graduated from Texas Woman’s University in the Spring of 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Therapy. Carlee interned with Fulton County Schools in Atlanta, Georgia where she worked in six different schools providing music therapy to special education classrooms. Clientele served included emotional behavioral disorder, autism, intellectual disability, significant developmental delay, speech and language delay, and orthopedically impaired. During her internship, Carlee’s love for serving children with special needs strengthened. She also developed a passion for working with adolescents and young adults. Although she loved her time in Georgia, Carlee is a Texan at heart and knew she wanted to come back and serve her home state. In her free time, Carlee enjoys spending time with her fiancé and planning their wedding for April of 2020. She also enjoys traveling, hiking, attending concerts and festivals, and simply relaxing. Carlee is so excited to be heading Sound Starts Grapevine and to watch the location flourish!
Watch Ms. Carlee’s Facebook video here.
Fatima Herrera, MT-BC
Fatima Hererra graduated from Texas Woman’s University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Music Therapy. More coming soon!
Kelsey Clark graduated from Sam Houston State University in the Fall of 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy. Kelsey completed her internship at Sound Starts Music in December of 2019. During her time at SHSU, Kelsey worked with a variety of clientele, including preschoolers, a client with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, geriatrics, and a client with Cerebral Palsy. Her primary instrument is the cello. Kelsey has known since she was 12 that she wanted to work with children with special needs, and is excited to work with this population through Sound Starts. In her free time, Kelsey loves writing poetry, binge-watching TV shows (especially Grey’s Anatomy), and hanging out with her cat, Strudel, and her dogs Kujo and Brady.
Watch Ms. Kelsey’s Facebook video here.
Allison Burns, MT-BC
Allison Burns completed her bachelor’s in Music Therapy at Texas Woman’s University in 2013 and interned at State of the Heart Hospice in Indiana and Ohio serving 11 counties. She is currently finishing her Masters in Music Therapy and working towards finishing her training as a Guided Imagery and Music Practitioner. Allison also enjoys singing at her church, Gloria Dei Lutheran in Garland and leading the Joyful Singers, a group for adults with special abilities. In her free time, she enjoys cooking for her family and friends, watching movies and playing card games. Allison is excited to be working with children in McKinney and Grayson County schools!
Watch Ms. Allison’s Facebook video here.
Becca Kittleson, MT-BC
Becca Kittleson is a graduate of Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. She moved to Texas to complete her internship with Denton ISD and fell in love with school based music therapy and the DFW area. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Music Therapy at Texas Woman’s University. Her primary instrument is oboe and she hopes to join a community band or orchestra in the area. She has two miniature dachshunds, Cheddar and Topanga, and loves to spend time playing with them outside of work. Becca is excited to be providing music therapy to students in the DFW area!
Watch Ms. Becca’s Facebook video here.
Our ADMIN ASSISTANT
Amrita Atrey has served as Sound Starts’ administrative assistant (guru!) since 2018, though she and her family have been part of the Sound Starts family for much longer! She does ALL the things and keeps our office running smoothly. If you have an an administrative or billing question, she is the one to contact.
Music Therapy Intern
Olivia Spahr is an undergraduate music therapy student at Shenandoah University and will be completing her degree at Sound Starts Music Therapy. Throughout her practicum experience, Olivia had the opportunity to work with a wide array of ages and populations, including, children in schools, adult psychiatric hospital, dementia, and military facilities. In her free time, Olivia likes to read, listen to the latest pop hits, and bake sweet treats!
Yu-Chen (Yvonne) Chang
Music Therapy Intern
Yu-Chen (Yvonne) Chang, MM, is a graduate music therapy equivalency student at Texas Woman’s University and will be completing her degree at Sound Starts Music Therapy. She has received her three bachelor’s degrees from National University of Tainan, majoring in piano performance, guiding and counseling, and elementary school education in 2015. On top of that, she also minored in vocal and violin. Later in 2017, she graduated from University of Houston for Master’s in piano performance. Throughout her practicum experience, Yvonne had the opportunity to work with different populations, including people with special needs (age 3-21), young adults mental health, and dementia. Through previous job experiences, she has been working with people with special needs as a student counselor and a music teacher (piano and violin) since she was 19. In her free time, she practices several musical instruments, learns new music, and sings. Her life is all about music and she wishes to share music with the whole world.
Specially Designed Songs & Strategies
Our team is trained to developed specific songs and music interventions to meet a wide variety of goals specific to each of our client’s needs.
Client Centered Services
We believe in client centered services. We take the time to get to know you and meet you exactly where you are.
Evidence Based Practice
Our music therapist’s techniques and strategies are a direct reflection of the most current evidenced based practice in music therapy.
You can expect frequent communication from our music therapists. Session reminders and session summary notes are shared weekly.
Clients Served Each Week
Music Therapists on our Team
Get In Touch.
We offer a complimentary consultation so get on our schedule today!