SWAMTA Conference Highlights

Each year there are two major music therapy conferences that I attend.  One is the national music therapy conference hosted by AMTA and the other is hosted by smaller regions of AMTA. Here in Texas we are part of the Southwestern Region. This includes music therapists from Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

This year’s conference was held in Dallas!


This is the first time in my seven years as a music therapist that it has been held in my area.  It was so exciting to take part in a music therapy conference right “down the street” from me. The conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Addison and the local committee did a fantastic job putting it together.

Some of the highlights from one week ago include:

Music is Medicine Foundation Key Note Session presented by J. Mack Slaughter.

This doctor in residence has a true passion for helping children in the medical setting with music.  Among other things, his foundation provides very nice instrument kits to hospitalized children as well as music lessons.  AND they have committed to the construction of a dedicated music therapy space at Children’s Hospital in Dallas.  It is so amazing to have a DOCTOR who not only understands the importance of what music therapists do, but also is actively working to help children using music.  WOW!

Texas State Recognition Task Force Committee Presentation

Next on my highlight list includes a presentation given by the Texas State Task Force Committee.  Hang with me….it’s not as boring as it might sound!!

As part of a larger initiative called the “State Recognition Operational Plan” co-supported by the American Music Therapy Association & the Certification Board for Music Therapists, tasks forces have been formed on the state level.

Music therapists are working together to advocate for our profession.  We are trying to get state recognition such as licensure, a music therapy registry, etc.  Currently music therapists are recognized only at a national level by the Certification Board for Music Therapists.

Having state recognition would help music therapists provide ACCESS to SERVICES for increased numbers of people and would PROTECT the profession from folks who are claiming to be music therapists but have not completed the university training, internship, and certification process required to be a music therapist.

In order to get state recognition, music therapist across the state of Texas have been contacting various Senators and Representative’s offices to educate and discuss the benefits of music therapy in their community.  I am so excited to get involved in this process.  How amazing would it be to have a staffer from a local government office come observe music therapy!!

Closing Session with “Ceci”

There were so many other great moments at conference, but the one I want to leave you with was the closing session and luncheon.

A music therapy friend and mentor of mine, Debbie Dacus, arranged for one of her private students to come play a short concert for our group.  The young woman, Ceci, was amazing! Her gift for music is truly remarkableI would not even have known she is diagnosed with an intellectual disability and is also visually impaired.  Ceci played several songs with incredible gusto and accuracy.  She used both hands to play, and I was blown away listening to her.  She now “gigs” at many facilities such as assisted living care centers and has a wonderful occupation as a musician.

This was a great reminder for me and the students who I teach as well.  The possibilities are unlimited!  Music speaks to each of us in a unique way and often plays a big part in helping us lead fulfilled lives.  I know it does for me.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to gather with other music therapists to learn, chat, and share.  Though it is months away, I am already looking forward to national conference in Louisville, KY!

Til Next Time,