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The West Music Blog
The West Music Blog presents articles, press releases and other information of interest to our local and worldwide customers.

Blogs by Erin, MT-BC

The Music Never Stopped
By Erin, MT-BC
3/28/2011 8:47:00 AM  

After viewing the movie trailer for The Music Never Stopped several weeks ago, I have been anxious to see the film which is based on the case study, “The Last Hippie”, by neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sachs, M.D.  Set in the 1980’s, Henry Sawyer (played by J.K. Simmons) is informed that his estranged son, Gabriel (played by Lou Taylor Pucci), requires major surgery to remove a brain tumor. When they learn that Gabriel is no longer able to create new memories after the surgery, they consult with Dr. Diane Daly, a music therapist (played by Julia Ormond), who has used music therapy techniques to make progress with people who have suffered from brain tumors. As she discovers that Gabriel is most responsive to rock and roll music from the 60's, she begins to use his preferred music not only to help him to begin to communicate and express himself, but also as a means help him reconnect with his long lost father.   

As a music therapist, I am particularly interested to see how Dr. Daly’s character is portrayed as well as how the music therapy methods that she employed are represented in the film. However, since this movie is not currently set to be screened in Iowa theaters, it looks like I will have to wait until my next trip to Minneapolis to see it.

Be sure to check out the movie’s website to find the full synopsis, view the movie trailer and to see if this movie is being screened in your area!

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Tags: Music Therapy, Music Therapy in Film, Music Therapy in the Movies, Music Therapy in Pop Culture, Pop Culture, Movies, The Music Never Stopped
Categories: Music Therapy
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Guitar Skills for Music Therapists and Music Educators is Now Available at West
By Erin, MT-BC
12/23/2010 8:28:00 AM  

As one of the co-authors, I’m happy to announce that the Guitar Skills for Music Therapists and Music Educators book and DVD is now available at West Music!  Though it was created with the needs of music therapists and music educators in mind, anyone who is interested in learning basic to more advanced guitar skills will benefit from this instructional book and accompanying DVD. 

Check out the product description below and be sure to stop by your local West Music store or click on the link below to order your copy of Guitar Skills for Music Therapists and 

Guitar Skills for Music Therapists and Music Educators

Music Educators today!

Guitar Skills for Music Therapists and Music Educators, By Peter Meyer, Jessica De Villers and Erin Ebnet

This book and DVD are the ideal text to be used in functional guitar courses for music therapy and music education majors as well as anyone interested in learning the basics of guitar playing quickly. The text is designed to assist the student in developing their functional guitar skills in a fun and easy to follow format and can be used in both the classroom and for individual self study. The text and accompanying exercises begin with the very basics of guitar playing and expands into more challenging material as the reader progresses through the chapters. Topics covered include basic and advanced strumming patterns, fingerpicking, flatpicking, barre and power chords as well as authentic stylistic accompaniment in styles such as the Blues, Jazz, Rock and R & B. In addition to functional guitar skills, music therapy/ improvisational applications are also discussed and demonstrated through modifications including alternate tunings and the use of slide guitar.

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Tags: guitar skills, Guitar Skills for Music Therapists and Music Educators, basic guitar skills, advanced guitar skills
Categories: Guitars & Folk, Music, Books & Resources
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When Can Pre-Recorded Music Be Therapeutic?
By Erin, MT-BC
8/25/2010 10:47:00 AM  

Though I play the majority of the music in my music therapy groups live, I find that it is often beneficial to include one or two pre-recorded songs in a session to free up my hands so that I can effectively interact with my clients as well as provide hand-over-hand assistance as needed. I have also used pre-recorded music during lyric analysis interventions which is usually followed by playing and singing the song live with the client so that they may be able to be a part of the music experience and perhaps connect with the song on a more personal level. Out of all of the times that I have used pre-recorded music, I have typically avoided using it in a performance setting up until recently.

Though most of the groups that music therapists tend to lead are not performance based, I recently lead a group of individuals with emotional, behavioral and/or learning disabilities which included a choir performance. Since I was leading the group by myself without the help of an additional accompanist, I had assumed that I would try to accompany the choir myself on either guitar or keyboard. Since I wanted the group members to have a real “choir” experience, some of the songs included two to three voice parts rather than singing everything in unison.

However, I quickly realized that even an exaggerated head nod to cue the parts while accompanying the songs was not going to suffice as many of the members were unable to read music and/or had learning disabilities which required a more distinct visual cue. So with only a few weeks to rehearse and the performance quickly approaching, I came to the conclusion that I would need to free up my hands so that I could effectively conduct the choir.  This, however, was not my was not my preferred choice since as a musician, I prefer to play as much live music as possible. However, as a music therapist, it is my job to support my clients and help them have a successful experience to the best of their abilities and in this case that meant using pre-recorded music.

Since I had limited time, I knew that I would not be able to record quality backing my tracks myself so I can began looking for songs to purchase online. I stumbled across a website called Karaoke Version ( and was able to find all of the songs that I needed. Not only that, but the songs could be downloaded with or without the backing vocals and the key could be modulated up or down by either a half or whole to better meet the vocal range of the singer (I also found that the key of song could even be modified and downloaded again for free even after it has been purchased). Since we used the tracks without the backing vocals, the members were able to sing the various voice parts live and most importantly, my hands were free so that I could cue them and guide them as needed to allow for a fun and successful experience for everyone.

Through this process I learned that pre-recorded music can not only be therapeutic when facilitated effectively in a music therapy group or 1:1 setting, but that this can also be true in the performance setting as well if it allows the participants to perform to the best of their abilities.

*Please note that the songs on the Karaoke Version website are allowed to be used in home and private settings only and that the performance mentioned above was in compliance with this regulation as it was not a public event. If you would like to use songs from Karaoke version for public performances, you will need to attain the proper permission to do so as described on the website.

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Tags: Music Therapy, Pre-Recorded Music, Pre-Recorded Music Therapy, Recorded Music, Recorded Music Therapy, Live vs Pre-Recorded, Live vs Recorded, Musicianship and Music Therapy, The Web and Music Therapy
Categories: Music Therapy
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