Round Up, August 5th

Welcome to August! And for many in Atlanta this week, welcome back to school! We're excited to jump back into the school season here, our schedules start to settle down a bit. On to the Round Up!

Tiny preemies get a boost from live lullabies (



Another article about the NICU program in Chicago! Man, that program is getting some serious press. This article mentions that "many insurers won't pay for music therapy." Clients of The George Center know that's not always true (and we're bustin' it to get more and more insurance companies to cover music therapy!)


Making music with your pulse -- for health and science (CNet)


Whoa, some wild technology here. This company has created an app that will allow users to send real time information about their heart rate and other health indicators like activity level and sleep patterns. By collecting this data, the app could recommend health changes, and could even allow users to participate in real time research studies.

Now, the music part: to incentivize people to use the app, the app makers envision enabling people to use their pulse to control beats and tempos of music. Full disclosure: even after reading the article, I'm not fulling grasping the concept. But it is interesting.

Studying movement and learning in autism (

Interesting research study which is looking at areas other than the brain affected by autism. The researcher believes that research focusing solely on the brain is misplaced, and that the whole sensory loop needs to be examined.

Healing Harmonies: Testing the Power of Music to Improve Senior Health (


Check out this study that will look at long term health benefits of singing in a choir! Looking forward to seeing the results of this one.

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Round Up, July 8th

Hope everyone enjoyed their 4th of July weekend! We've got some great music therapy stories today, including a feature from a major news network! Let's get to it.

Music Therapy Being Used to Treat Premature Babies (NBC Nightly News)

Last week, NBC News did a feature on music therapy in the neonatal intensive care unit! It's always exciting to see our field covered by major media outlets.

Music Therapy Helps End-of-Life Patients Cope (WFSU)

Hospice music therapy is a growing field, and this article out of Tallahassee, Florida gives you a great idea of why!

Music Therapy Facility Opens at Primary Children's (KSL)

Football fans will know the name Steve Young, one of the most famous quarterbacks in NFL history! Well, he's "thrown" (hah) his support behind a music therapy program at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah! Looks like a great program!

Carly's Cafe - Experience Autism Through Carly's Eyes


Finally, we have this powerful video put together by a woman with autism and her father that attempts to illustrate the experience of having autism in a typical social setting, in this case having coffee at a coffee shop with the woman's father and sister. This video does a great job of capturing the difficulty with processing multiple sensory inputs bombarding you all at once, as well as the difficulty with verbally communicating wants, needs, and desires.

Interested in music therapy? We offer top quality music therapy services all over Atlanta! Sign up for our free consultation to learn more.


Monday Round Up, June 24th

After a 2 week hiatus, the Round Up returns! If you're new around these parts, our weekly Round Up collects some of our favorite stories on music, health, autism, music therapy, and more and puts them all in one place for your reading pleasure! Plus, we like to include a fun video every now and then just to make your Monday morning a bit more interesting. It's a great way to start your week and get some stories to bookmark and read while you sit in the car waiting for soccer practice to end. Let's get to it!

Music therapists do a lot more than sing (Pittsburgh City Paper)

Here's a story that made a lot of rounds on Facebook in the music therapy community. This is an excellent write-up on a music therapist in the Pittsburgh area and does a great job describing our field, where we work, and the benefits. Definitely worth a read!


Autism And The DSM-5: Doorstop Or Diagnostic Tool? (Forbes)

As previously mentioned on this blog, the latest edition of the diagnostic manuel used in psychology and behavioral health, the DSM-5, has been released. Much of the controversy surrounding this publication stems from new diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders. This op-ed article from Forbes discusses some of the limitations of this new criteria in real-world applications for parents. In particular, it creates a category for children who might not fit neatly into the autism diagnostic criteria that isn't yet recognized by entities that parents care about: the education system and insurance companies. As a result, children in this category may not receive services or have any way to pay for them.

Please note, this article is an op-ed, and contains some strong opinions. It's presented here merely for informational and discussion purposes.


Music Doesn't Hurt Driving Performance (WebMD)

Good news for those of us who spend lots of time in our cars (ahem, anyone in Atlanta...)! A new study finds that listening to music (unlike talking on the cellphone) while driving doesn't significantly impact our driving performance. This is likely because listening to music in the car is generally a passive activity (something in the background that doesn't require large amounts of our brain power and attention).

Please note singing and drumming along to Mariah Carey in the car WILL earn stares and snickers from other drivers around you, however.


Music Midtown adds more diverse acts, third stage (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Finally, Atlanta music lovers, the line up for the popular Music Midtown concert festival has been announced. There's quite a diverse line up this year, guaranteed to appease to most musical palettes. What do you think, worth the price of admission?


Just for Fun incredible.

Know what drives us? Providing THE BEST music therapy services for our clients we possibly can. Seriously, we live and breath it. Know who we want to provide them for? YOU. Talk to us.






Monday Round Up, June 10th

Round Up time! Hope you had an enjoyable weekend. Let's dive right into the stories this week!

Music therapy helps people achieve (Columbus Telegram) 

Nice write-up on a music therapist from a loca newspaper in Nebraska! I love the title!

How high-tech jobs could solve the autism unemployment crisis (The Verge)

Excellent story on how hi-tech jobs are perfectly suited for some people with autism. Many times, gainful employment is one of the biggest obstacles standing between people with autism and independent living.


'Sensory-Focused' Autism Therapy Shows Early Promise (WebMD)

Interesting study here in which children with autism who were placed in a sensory-enriched environment showed gains in social and sensory skills. Part of the study involved exposing the participants to classical music! Of course, we're all about sensory experiences in music therapy. Worth a read.


First ever music video shot in space


This is a few weeks old now, but man is it cool. Astronaut Chris Hadfield has built a reputation for playing guitar aboard the International Space Station, and now he's filmed a whole music video. Too fun.

Interested in learning more about music therapy? Sign up for a FREE consultation! It's simple, easy, and FAST!


Can You Divorce Music from Sensory Processing?

Several weeks ago our good friend and colleague, Kimberly Sena-Moore published a blog article on entitled “Can You Divorce Music from Communication?” The article addresses whether music therapy should be used to address communication needs. It was a thoughtful and well-rounded look at the unique way that music inherently addresses verbal and non-verbal communication.

When I shared the article with our speech therapist colleagues, their immediate response was, “Why would you want to divorce music from communication?” This prompted me to wonder what our occupational therapy colleagues thought about music’s relationship to sensory processing. So I asked…. “Can you divorce music from sensory processing?” Their answer? An overwhelming, NO! After all, music is an art of sound that defines itself through AUDITORY discrimination. But what about all of the other elements of music that feed our sensory seeking selves?

  1. The obvious auditory component of music defines spatial concepts and helps the listener to discriminate between different sounds. This is part of you vestibular system and is contained within the inner ear. It plays a vital role in balance, coordination and also affects many other systems within the body. It is the vestibular system that allows us to be still and upright and have directional awareness.
  2. Rhythm is an organizer and assists with sequencing, attention, and cognition. People often talk about our own “internal rhythms”. These rhythms define our speech patterns, gait patterns, sleep patterns, etc. When provided an external rhythm through musical cues, the participant will typically change their patterns to fit that of the rhythm provided. Rhythm can elicit spontaneous speech, improved gait, and even assists with anticipation and expectation of events.
  3. Harmony and color introduce new and different frequencies in an interactive and non-threatening environment. The way our brains process the frequencies in music and other auditory experiences (sirens, alarms, birds chirping, doors slamming) allow for us to recognize and categorize the sounds we hear. Our brain makes a necessary neural connection, “Ok, that sound is the piano and that is the drum”.  The degree to which these different sensory systems are integrated will directly impact upon our ability to understand and interact with the outside world. Paying attention and focusing on a teacher’s voice can be very challenging if we are unable to sit still and ignore other visual and auditory information in a classroom.

More specifically, music helps the functioning of the brain stem and cortex. We don’t realize it, but we use the visual, auditory and vestibular systems together in order to successfully interact with and understand the world around us. And because of neuroplasticity (or the brain’s ability to change) music therapy is a non-invasive, and motivating way to address sensory functioning.

As a board certified music therapist and trained neurologic music therapist, it is within my scope of practice to use music to address my clients’ neurologic, cognitive and executive functions (decision making, problem solving). I am trained to address their ability to focus and maintain attention, generalize skills to other settings, control impulses, and improve motor skills, self-awareness, sensorimotor skills, and sensory perception. I don’t diagnose or evaluate sensory processing disorder. I assess and address sensory processing needs.

At The George Center we are lucky to have occupational therapists right here in our clinic with whom we can consult and collaborate. And by combining movement with a music therapy program designed for those with Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, brain injuries, ADHD, and other neurologic impairments we can help integrate sensory information much more effectively.

Recommended Readings…

Ayres, A. J. (1972). Sensory integration and learning disorders. Los Angeles: Western Psychological Services.

Berger, D.S. (2002). Music therapy, sensory integration, and the autistic child. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Kranowiz, C. (2005). The out of sync child. New York:  The Penguin Group.

Sacks, O. (2006). The power of music. Brain: A Journal of Neurology, 129, 2528–2532.


Want to know more about how music therapy can address sensory processing needs? We would be happy to chat with you or set up a FREE consultation!


Image credit: Flickr user digitalbob8

Round Up, May 13th

Welcome, readers! We've collected some really neat stories and blog posts this week, so let's dive right in!

Watch out, bullies: She's got the band behind her (CNN)

Heartwarming story here about a girl with autism who found her place socially in the band. A great reminder that music not only addresses important health goals, but provides a social experience that every one of us can take part in.


He Proved Me Wrong: On Autism and Presuming Competence (Flappiness Is...)

A beautifully written piece here from the blog "Flappiness Is...," a blog written by a parent of a child on the autism spectrum. This post discusses the mantra "Always presume competence," a phrase that's very important to those working in and around the special needs community. Having autism does not necessarily mean one has an intellectual disability. Similarly, just because someone does not respond to you when spoken to does not mean they don't understand what you said. To assume so sells that person short. In this bog post, Leigh tells a story about her son that speaks to this mantra.

This post is also relatable to our next Round Up piece...


Forget What You Know: Jacob Barnett (TEDxTeen)


This kid oozes enthusiasm and passion for what he does. He also relays a story of when competency was NOT assumed. Don't sell this kid short!


"Thank You Mister Speaker": On Music and Social Behaviors (Psychology Today)


Great post from our music therapy colleague Kimberly Sena Moore on how music plays into our social behaviors.

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Music Tied to Brain's Reward Center, and more great stories! (Round Up, May 6th)

Welcome to May everyone! Let's dive into the Round Up, our weekly collection of the top stories in music and healthcare.


The Barista (Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Cool local story here! This story details Omar, who is an adult on the autism spectrum, and his journey to independent living, made possible in part through his job as a barista at a local chain of car dealers (Nalley). Great to see local businesses giving opportunities for people to live fulfilling, self-supported lives!


Half of all children with autism will run away (ABC News)

Scary statistics from this ABC News story. Half of all children with autism will run away at some point. This serves as an important reminder of safety precautions to take with children on the spectrum. It also serves to remind us the importance of teaching children how to answer biographical questions about themselves, such as "Where do you live?" "Where do you go to school?" "What's your phone number?" and "What's your name?," so that when approached by someone after running away, they can be reconnected with their family.

Here at The George Center, we frequently address this goal by teaching this information based on songs. Our own Ms. Laurie had the fantastic idea of teaching phone numbers using "Call Me" by Blondie!


 Children's Healthcare to invest nearly $20M in hospital expansions (Atlanta Business Chronicle)

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is a special place, and they run a fantastic music therapy program with some truly talented MT's! It's great to see them thriving.


Brain's music pleasure zone identified (The Guardian)

Surprise, surprise! Music activates the reward centers of your brain.


Ready to learn more about music therapy? Contact us for a free consultation!


Round Up, April 29th

Happy monday everyone! Tonight, we're having our last regular rehearsal for our teen performing arts group in preparation for our performance on Saturday (more on that later)! Let's get to the stories.

Autism treatment can be expensive, but benefits can be dramatic (Michigan Live)

Interesting article here regarding Michigan's law that requires insurance companies to cover autism treatments (similar to the Ava's Law efforts in Georgia). The article states why covering autism treatments is not only morally right, but fiscally smart too!


Abnormal Placenta May Reveal Autism Risk (Psych Central)

New study found that abnormalities in the placenta may indicate a risk (96.7% probability) of an infant developing autism. If the results of this study are reliable, more early interventions could be implemented which greatly improve outcomes for individuals with autism later in life.

Choir Singing Could Help Reduce Anxiety, Study Finds (Huffington Post)

Cool study that found singing in a choir reduced anxiety and negative affect. No argument here!



Inspired by daughter, mom creates dolls for kids with Down syndrome (NBC Today Show)

Check out this mom that set out to start a line of dolls for children with Down syndrome! Her daughter was browsing a magazine and lamented over the fact that none of the dolls looked like her, so she set out to change that. Very cool!


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