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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:

Music as a Healing Tool After Brain Injury 

After a brain injury many of us have an assortment of issues with sounds and music. For some of us, sound becomes intolerable. Even the sound of water splashing when a car drives over wet pavement or the sound of birds tweeting can be overwhelming. Music may be unbearable. Others have no problem with this and can listen to just about anything. I could not tolerate most sounds or most music. I did find, however, that there was certain music or sounds that worked like “brain massage” for me. Since then I have learned that there is actually a recognized health profession that provides music therapy for that purpose or to treat cognitive, sensory, and motor dysfunctions. 

It seems that music as therapy is still in its early stages in the traditional medical world. According to Michael H. Thaut, Ph.D., and Gerald C. McIntosh, M.D., “The role of music in therapy has gone through some dramatic shifts in the past 15 years, driven by new insights from research into music and brain function. These shifts have not been reflected in public awareness, though, or even among some professionals.” Their entire article is available (as a PDF download) in the March 2010 article, “How Music Helps to Heal the Injured Brain”, that appeared in the Dana Foundation’s publication, Cerebrum. 

I’ve spent more time recently learning about music as therapy for brain injuries and for brain wellness in general. Gabriella Giffords participated in music therapy as part of...(READ MORE)


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)

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