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Welcome to Music Therapy Associates!

Our mission: To use music to help our clients attain goals, cope with hardship, overcome physical and mental challenges, and improve their quality of life.

What's New:

Guitar Lessons! 

We're thrilled to announce that professional guitarist Todd Patnaude has joined the MTA family as a guitar, ukulele, and bass guitar instructor!

If you, or anyone you know is interested in learning one of these instruments from an incredibly experienced instructor in the comfort of your own home, give us a call (610-740-9890) or shoot us an email ( for more info!

Music Calls Patients Back From Darkness 

An audience of patients with Alzheimer’s disease listens in rapt attention as a young woman sings the French song “Beau Soir.” Despite his failing mind, one of the men in the crowd, Les Dean, translates the words into English for a friend. 

“See how the setting sun paints a river with roses,” he whispers. “Tremulous vision floats over fields of grain.” 

And when the audience joins in a singalong on another tune, Dean’s voice rumbles in a resonant baritone, “Take my hand, I’m a stranger in paradise. All lost in a wonderland, a stranger in paradise.” 

Dean, 76, once taught music at Senn High School, invented and sold his own music education system and sang with the Chicago Symphony Chorus. Now, like many patients with Alzheimer’s, he is to some extent lost in the past, a stranger to the present. He asks a visitor, “How are the children?” Five minutes later, he asks again, and again, unable to recall the question or the answer. But when the music plays, he smiles, and is transported to a place of beauty, where everything still makes sense. 

In recent years, music therapy has grown in popularity for its seeming ability to help calm people with dementia and reconnect them with their memories. Now a Northwestern University researcher is testing whether music played for residents of a suburban nursing home can be therapeutic and can improve cognition, conversation and relationships. 

As the number of dementia patients grows — to nearly 1 in 3 seniors by the time of death — advocates hope to get insurance and Medicare to extend music therapy to everyone who could benefit from it. 

In the process, caregivers whose parents or partners have grown distant, confused and agitated are finding new ways to share meaningful moments with the ones they love. 

Is there anybody in there? 

A person with dementia can recede so far that he or she is no longer responsive, suggesting personality and consciousness have been lost. But in his book “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain,” the renowned late neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks wrote that he’d seen such patients shiver or weep while listening to music. 

“Once one has seen such responses,” he wrote, “one knows that there is still a self to be called upon, even if music, and only music, can do the calling.” 

Research has suggested benefits from music therapy for people with autism, depression, schizophrenia, brain injuries and cancer. Newborns in intensive care have been found to gain weight faster when exposed to music. 

For people recovering from a stroke, the rhythm of music can help them...(READ MORE)

St. Louis Park Hospital Uses Harmonicas for Breathing Rehab 

David Teslow can no longer manage a round of golf without supplemental oxygen, but on Thursday the 82-year-old’s cheeks were huffing and puffing as he played “On Top of Old Smokey” and “Wild Irish Rose” on the harmonica, along with bandmates in the lobby of Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. 

“Old-time songs,” he said. 

Teslow is part of the harmonica group formed at Methodist last June as an adjunct therapy for patients with breathing disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. While also completing traditional rehab exercises, the patients gain physical and psychological benefits from being part of the band, which practices every other week. 

Rehab patients need to “exercise muscles that help push and pull air out of the lungs,” said Dawn McDougal Miller, a music therapist at Methodist. “This gives them another way to do those exercises, and it’s a whole lot more fun.” 

Playing the harmonica as an exercise makes...(READ MORE)

New study finds infants sync with moms during lullabies 

Elvis once said, “Rhythm is something you either have or don't have." But where does it come from? 

A new study suggests that Elvis and everyone with rhythm may have gotten it from their moms. 

The experience of singing to a baby is universal, across languages, cultures and time -- especially well-loved lullabies. Canadian researchers took a look at the relationship between mothers and babies during lullabies. 

“We know lullabies work with babies,” Laura Cirelli, the primary author, said. But she wanted to know, “how our parents shape that experience.” 

In this cross sectional study, 30 mothers were asked to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to their children in two moods: “playful” and “soothing.”

For the study, moms sang to their babies up to 10 times. Baby brain arousal was measured via devices placed on the skin that are similar to a polygraph and measure sweat gland activity. 

Cirelli explained that sweat is an indicator of mood because “when we are excited, levels increase” and...(READ MORE)

Therapist Spotlight

Mary Cate Carr, MT-BC

Mary Cate first became interested in music therapy after her aunt suggested it as a possible career opportunity due to her love of music and passion for helping others. After looking into it and deciding that it seemed like a perfect fit, Mary Cate attended Temple University, where she graduated with a Bachelor's in Music Therapy, and went on to complete her clinical internship at Rebecca School in New York City, NY working with children and young adults diagnosed with ASD and other neurological disorders. 

Mary Cate plays piano, guitar, ukulele and sings, and enjoys all genres of music, but especially 60s - 70s rock. In addition to her work with MTA, Mary Cate teaches private lessons on voice, piano and guitar, and some of her favorite passtimes include hiking, traveling, and trying different foods.

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