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March 17, 2003


Contact: Cindy Edgerton, Music Therapy Clinical Services, (517) 355-7661, or
Kristan Tetens, University Relations, (517) 355-5633 or


EAST LANSING, Mich. - The fifth annual Michigan State University Music Therapy Recital will celebrate the musical abilities of children and adults diagnosed with autism, traumatic brain injuries, mental impairments, developmental disabilities, physical impairments and mental illnesses.

The recital will be at 4 p.m. Friday, March 21, at the MSU Music Auditorium. Admission is free and the public is invited. Donations will be accepted to benefit the university's music therapy program.

Randy Carrier, a current music therapy client, started this annual recital in 1999 as part of his vocational rehabilitation. He was a band director before suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in 1996.

"The recital is one of our most eagerly anticipated events," said Cindy Edgerton, the primary therapist for Music Therapy Clinical Services in the Community Music School. "It provides opportunities for children and adults with special needs to shine and to be proud. It also provides the audience with a truly meaningful and heartwarming experience."

The recital will consist of vocal and instrumental performances, along with creative movement and sing-along.

The American Music Therapy Association for Students at MSU (AMTA-MSU) will host a potluck dinner immediately following the recital in Room 103, Music Practice Building, which is also free and open to the audience.

[NOTE TO MEDIA: This event provides excellent photo and video opportunities. If you'd like to attend, or need photos, bios, interviews, success stories, or more information, contact Jill McMillan, School of Music, at (517) 353-9958.]

Two Music Therapy Success Stories

Seth is an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with autism who sang before he was able to use words to communicate. He started music therapy at MSU in 1999. He was non-verbal, but frequently vocalized phrases of songs, using both vocalizations and some word-approximations, but no recognizable words. Music therapy was a key part of helping Seth learn how to use sounds and words to communicate. His incredible progress in music therapy was demonstrated at the 2002 Music Therapy Recital, when Seth sang "Beauty and the Beast." He plans to sing another Disney song at this year's recital. Seth now independently uses single words to communicate. When given visual or verbal cues, he is able to use three-word phrases to express his needs and wants. Seth knows and sings numerous songs, and, according to his parents, "Music therapy is one therapy that Seth never complains about."

Katie is 5 years old and has been diagnosed with arthrogryposis, a condition that presents her with physical impairments. She is able to express herself through music by singing, playing a variety of instruments and creating her own songs and compositions. She began music therapy at MSU four years ago and has shown progress in her language and gross motor skills. Katie is very motivated by various music interventions, which enable her to work on important physical goals without even realizing it. Even though she tires easily after one dance or movement intervention, Katie is always quick to request another one, continuing throughout each of her 30-minute sessions.

[NOTE TO MEDIA: For interviews with the parents of Seth or Katie, or to attend, photograph and/or videotape one of their music therapy sessions, please contact Jill McMillan, School of Music, at (517) 353-9958.]

About the MSU Music Therapy Program

Music therapy (MT) is an established health care profession that uses music to address the physical, cognitive, emotional and social needs of children and adults with special needs. Music therapists do not teach their clients how to sing or play an instrument; instead, the instruments and the voice are used to create a common musical language. Individuals who receive MT may not be able to speak, but they may be able to communicate musically. Some individuals who do not yet speak are able to sing. MT cuts across all boundaries. It can be beneficial in inclusive settings because children who are unable to do the same math problems or read the same books can all participate in the 'same' music making. Many people who receive music therapy services are able to develop self-confidence and enhance their self-esteem through participation in positive, success-oriented interventions.

MSU established the very first music therapy program in the world in 1944. About 30 years ago, the Music Therapy Clinic was established for student practicum training. In 1993, Music Therapy Clinical Services was established to provide professional MT services to schools, agencies and private clients throughout mid-Michigan. Clients are seen either individually or in groups, usually once per week for 30-60 minutes, depending on individual needs, which widely vary. For example, several children attend MT in order to develop the social and communication skills necessary to succeed in a kindergarten setting.