Meet Our TeamBoard-Certified Music Therapists
Our FRISCO Team
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
Samantha 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!
Melissa Heffner, MT-BC
Melissa 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.
Jorja Benjamin, MT-BC
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. 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.
Laurel Page, MT-BC
Laurel Page is a recent graduate of Texas Woman’s University with a Master of Arts in Music Therapy degree. She also holds a Bachelor of Musical Arts in Piano degree, with a Minor in Psychology, from Oklahoma Baptist University. Throughout her practicum experience, Laurel has served a variety of populations including geriatric rehabilitation, juvenile detention, school-based, and pediatric medical settings. In the spring of 2019, she completed her internship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, where she worked with a variety of children of all ages and ability levels. This experience reinforced her passion and calling to work with children, and to use music to support and encourage them toward their goals. In her free time, Laurel enjoys watching movies, baking, singing in her church choir, and spending time with her family and friends. Laurel is from McKinney, TX and is excited to serve her community through being a part of the Sound Starts Team!
Kaylyn Manuel, MT-BC
Kaylyn Manuel has been a board-certified Music Therapist since August 2016. She graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas with her degree in Music Therapy with an emphasis in voice. In the San Antonio and DFW areas, Kaylyn has served children, adolescents, and adults with Autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has also served the Wounded Warrior population, working with veterans with Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Kaylyn is a member of the American Music Therapy Association, and participates in continuing education through conferences and additional certifications. Kaylyn enjoys spending time with her friends and family, trying new foods, and being outdoors and adventuring in her free time! She is excited to be part of the Sound Starts Community, serving children and families in the North Texas areas!
Tyler Smith, MT-BC
Tyler 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.
Our GRAPEVINE Team
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!
Music Therapy Intern
Katie Lopez is an intern at Sound Starts Music Therapy and is eager to pursue her passion of working with children of all abilities. She completed her course work at Texas Women’s University where she is an honors student and Terry Foundation Scholar. During practicum, she had the opportunity to work with adults with disabilities in a vocational training facility as well as working right here at Sound Starts in the spring of 2019 and volunteering for the summer 2018 camp and the first spring break camp in 2018. Katie’s has played the cello for 19 years and has taught private lessons in CFBISD and LISD for the past five years. While working, she had the opportunity to work with several special needs students to develop adapted lessons for the cello. In her free time, Katie enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband Sebastian and two german shepherd-labs Harley and Freyah, reading, and performing in musical theatre pit orchestras.
Music Therapy Intern
Austin Shugart is an undergraduate music therapy student at Texas Woman’s University and will be completing his degree at Sound Starts Music Therapy. Austin has worked with an abundance of different client populations including geriatric rehabilitation, juvenile detention, medical rehabilitation, end of life care, and a wide array of clients with ASD and developmental disabilities during his practicum. In his free time, Austin enjoys reading, writing, watching TV and playing video games.
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 Center Based Team
Get In Touch.
We offer a complimentary consultation so get on our schedule today!