Why Guitar Competency?

by David Putano Mt-BC

I’d like to speak to music therapy (MT) pros and students about playing guitar and musicianship and pose the question “Why Guitar Competency?”


Last year I wrote about a hospice family where the son told me that “over the past many months the only joy my mom has experienced was during the music therapy sessions…” The patient was a piano player who loved church music and popular music of “her day,” i.e, music from the 1930s-50s. I went on to say that if I was not a competent musician and proficient on guitar those times would not have been possible.


Similarly, this past week, I realized that on Wednesday alone I had played on my guitar classical music by Matteo Carcassi, Let It Go from the hit movie Frozen, had to learn Needle And The Damage Done by Neil Young for a song writing project, classic hits by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, calypso music by Harry Belafonte, R&B music by Lionel Richie and more… To play so many diverse styles a certain level of experience and competency has to be achieved.


The point is NOT to alarm you if, at this time, your repertoire and knowledge of various styles of music is limited or you are constrained on the guitar or piano. The point is that you are aware of your limitations and that, over time, you continuously work on expanding your knowledge, musicianship and repertoire. Know that I did not wake up one day with all of this covered. I’ve been playing guitar professionally my whole adult working career. That lets me now share with you the benefits of guitar competency.


If you haven’t checked out the three CMTE guitar competency courses offered by The Spiegel Academy, don’t hesitate.

 You can watch a free video with 3 guitar tips by clicking here.  


My guitar courses (by David Putano, MT-BC) have been have been organized with an important philosophy in mind, that is, learning how to play the guitar as a rehearsal pianist plays. What I mean by that is when we experience a rehearsal pianist at a choir or theater rehearsal, they are able to play any style of music, with no shortcuts, as the composer intended. I have geared all of my guitar competency lessons and courses with this philosophy. Looking back on my music therapy career to date, I can’t tell how important being a good musician, a professional musician has been. It has been instrumental (excuse the pun) in getting me jobs as well as adding greatly to job security.


When you purchase a guitar course from the Spiegel Academy you also receive a FREE, one year professional membership to guitarlplayikeapro.com, featuring 250 guitar lesson videos, with many music therapy clinical tips. Lessons are video based, able to be accessed 24/7.


And, anyone purchasing any other music therapy related CMTE course will receive a FREE three month professional to guitarplaylikeapro.com.


So, as you improve your guitar playing, benefit from a wide variety of pertinent, interesting and professional courses offered by The Spiegel Academy, receive CMTEs. Join us!

Source: http://musicfromthestart.blogspot.com/


Music therapy shows dramatic results

Music therapy builds on the fact that many of the body’s physiological processes function according to biorhythms. “We all have a plethora of musical features in the body — the heart’s beating, breathing, sleep patterns, everything works on a continuum of timing,” Loewy says.

“A music therapist can actually integrate the rhythm of your body’s different functions with music. And what we’ve researched is that the critical elements in music can activate healthy functions that a system combating disease needs.”

Source: Daily Checkup: Music therapy’s power – NY Daily News

Top 12 Brain-Based Reasons Why Music as Therapy Works

This is a really awesome article that was written by: Kimberly Sena Moore MT-BC.


“Our bodies like rhythm and our brains like melody and harmony.”

-Daniel Levitin


There are over 5,000 board-certified music therapists in the United States. And there’s one question we get asked daily:

What is music therapy?

According to the American Music Therapy Association, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.”

Simply put, we use music to make your life better. Whether you need help socially, cognitively, physically, emotionally, or developmentally, music can help you get better…and music therapists are well-trained on how to do that.

What’s more interesting, though, is why it works. When used properly, music can be an incredibly powerful treatment tool. And not just because it’s fun, relaxing, and motivating, but because music has a profound impact on our brains and our bodies.

So here are my top 12 brain-based reasons why music works in therapy:

  1. Music is a core function in our brain. Our brain is primed early on to respond to and process music. Research has shown that day-old infants are able to detect differences in rhythmic patterns. Mothers across cultures and throughout time have used lullabies and rhythmic rocking to calm crying babies. From an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes language. We don’t yet know why, but our brains are wired to respond to music, even though it’s not “essential” for our survival.
  2. Our bodies entrain to rhythm. Have you ever walked down the street, humming a song in your head, and noticed that your walking to the beat? That’s called entrainment. Our motor systems naturally entrain, or match, to a rhythmic beat. When  a musical input enters our central nervous system via the auditory nerve, most of the input goes to the brain for processing. But some of it heads straight to motor nerves in our spinal cord. This allows our muscles to move to the rhythm without our having to think about it or “try.” It’s how we dance to music, tap our foot to a rhythm, and walk in time to a beat. This is also why music therapists can help a person who’s had a stroke re-learn how to walk and develop strength and endurance in their upper bodies.
  3. We have physiologic responses to music. Every time your breathing quickens, your heart-rate increases, or you feel a shiver down your spine, that’s your body responding physiologically to music. Qualified music therapists can use this to help stimulate a person in a coma or use music to effectively help someone relax.
  4. Children (even infants) respond readily to music. Any parent knows that it’s natural for a child to begin dancing and singing at an early age. My kids both started rocking to music before they turned one. And have you seen the YouTube video of the baby dancing to Beyonce? Children learn through music, art, and play, so it’s important (even necessary) to use those mediums when working with children in therapy.
  5. Music taps into our emotions. Have you ever listened to a piece of music and smiled? Or felt sad? Whether from the music itself, or from our associations with the music, music taps into our emotional systems. Many people use this in a “therapeutic” way, listening to certain music that makes them feel a certain way. The ability for music to easily access our emotions is very beneficial for music therapists.
  6. Music helps improve our attention skills. I was once working with a 4-year-old in the hospital. Her 10-month-old twin sisters were visiting, playing with Grandma on the bed. As soon as I started singing to the older sister, the twins stopped playing and stared at me, for a full 3 minutes. Even from an early age, music can grab and hold our attention. This allows music therapists to target attention and impulse control goals, both basic skills we need to function and succeed.
  7. Music uses shared neural circuits as speech. This is almost a no-brainer (no pun intended), but listening to or singing music with lyrics uses shared neural circuits as listening to and expressing speech. Music therapists can use this ability to help a child learn to communicate or help someone who’s had a stroke re-learn how to talk again.
  8. Music enhances learning. Do you remember how you learned your ABCs? Through a song! The inherent structure and emotional pull of music makes it an easy tool for teaching concepts, ideas, and  information. Music is an effective mnemonic device and can “tag” information, not only making it easy to learn, but also easy to later recall.
  9. Music taps into our memories. Have you ever been driving, heard a song on the radio, then immediately been taken to a certain place, a specific time in your life, or a particular person? Music is second only to smell for it’s ability to stimulate our memory in a very powerful way. Music therapists who work with older adults with dementia have countless stories of how music stimulates their clients to reminisce about their life.
  10. Music is a social experience. Our ancestors bonded and passed on their stories and knowledge through song, stories, and dance. Even today, many of our music experiences are shared with a group, whether playing in band or an elementary music class, listening to jazz at a restaurant, or singing in church choir. Music makes it easy for music therapists to structure and facilitate a group process.
  11. Music is predictable, structured, and organized–and our brain likes it! Music often has a predictable steady beat, organized phrases, and a structured form. If you think of most country/folk/pop/rock songs you know, they’re often organized with a verse-chorus structure. They’re organized in a way that we like and enjoy listening to over and over again. Even sound waves that make up a single tone or an entire chord are organized in mathematical ratios–and our brains really like this predictability and structure.
  12. Music is non-invasive, safe and motivating. We can’t forget that most people really enjoy music. This is not the most important reason why music works in therapy, but it’s the icing on the cake.

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in learning more, Kimberly recommends the following books and websites: This is Your Brain on Music (Levitin), The Cognitive Neuroscience of Music (Peretz & Zatorre), Rhythm, Music, and the Brain (Thaut), The American Music Therapy Association, and The Dana Foundation.

Source: http://www.musictherapymaven.com/12-reasons-why-music-as-therapy-works/

Jennifer Buchanan, music therapist, shares therapeutic benefits of music

Music has been proven to have therapeutic benefits

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anyone who has blasted a beloved Motown classic can attest to the power of music. Now, science proves music has numerous therapeutic benefits. Certified music therapist Jennifer Buchanan shared ways music can help individuals.

Source: Music has been proven to have therapeutic benefits | fox4kc.com

Healing through music – Harvard Health Publications

Human brain recording information with headphones.

The last time I had a mammogram, I got a big surprise — and it was a good one. A string quartet was playing just outside the doors of the breast imaging center, and my thoughts immediately shifted from “What are they going to find on the mammogram?” to “Is that Schubert, or Beethoven?” By the time my name was called, I had almost forgotten why I was there.

The unexpected concert was the work of Holly Chartrand and Lorrie Kubicek, music therapists and co-coordinators of the Environmental Music Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. But bringing music to hospital corridors is just a sideline for music therapists. The majority of their time is spent using music to help patients accomplish specific goals, like recovering their speech after a stroke or reducing the stress of chemotherapy.

Chartrand is a vocalist and graduate of Berklee College of Music. She decided to become a music therapist when she realized that she could use music to support others just as it had supported her throughout her life. “The favorite part of my job is seeing how big an impact music can have on someone who isn’t feeling well,” she says.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is a burgeoning field. Those who become certified music therapists are accomplished musicians who have deep knowledge of how music can evoke emotional responses to relax or stimulate people, or help them heal. They combine this knowledge with their familiarity with a wide variety of musical styles to find the specific kind that can get you through a challenging physical rehab session or guide you into meditation. And they can find that music in your favorite genre, be it electropop or grand opera.

Music therapists know few boundaries. They may play music for you or with you, or even teach you how to play an instrument. On a given day, Chartrand may be toting a tank drum, a ukulele, or an iPad and speakers into a patient’s room. “Technology gives us so much access to all kinds of music that I can find and play almost any kind of music you like,” she says.

The evidence for music therapy

A growing body of research attests that that music therapy is more than a nice perk. It can improve medical outcomes and quality of life in a variety of ways. Here’s a sampling:

Improves invasive procedures. In controlled clinical trials of people having colonoscopies, cardiac angiography, and knee surgery, those who listened to music before their procedure had reduced anxiety and a reduced need for sedatives. Those who listened to music in the operating room reported less discomfort during their procedure. Hearing music in the recovery room lowered the use of opioid painkillers.

Restores lost speech. Music therapy can help people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has damaged the left-brain region responsible for speech. Because singing ability originates in the right side of the brain, people can work around the injury to the left side of their brain by first singing their thoughts and then gradually dropping the melody. Former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords used this technique to enable her to testify before a Congressional committee two years after a gunshot wound to her brain destroyed her ability to speak.

Reduces side effects of cancer therapy. Listening to music reduces anxiety associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It can also quell nausea and vomiting for patients receiving chemotherapy.

Aids pain relief. Music therapy has been tested in patients ranging from those with intense acute pain to those with chronic pain from arthritis. Overall, music therapy decreases pain perception, reduces the amount of pain medication needed, helps relieve depression, and gives people a sense of better control over their pain.

Improves quality of life for dementia patients. Because the ability to engage with music remains intact late into the disease process, music therapy can help to recall memories, reduce agitation, assist communication, and improve physical coordination.

How to find a music therapist

If you’re facing a procedure or illness, or just want relief from the stresses of daily life or help sticking to an exercise program, a music therapist may be able to help you. You can find one on the website of the American Music Therapy Association.

Source: Healing through music – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publications