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  • Carolyn Meyer, MT-BC

Innovate! Integrate! Motivate! (Reflections on the AMTA National Conference)

American Music Therapy Association national conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota (November, 2019)

Each year, professionals, students and even those in allied disciplines gather in a large and musical way for the national conference hosted by the American Music Therapy Association. Attendees of this event can expect to be greeted with many opportunities for growth in clinical knowledge, musical skills and self-care. It was incredibly exciting to be able to welcome our colleagues from around the nation to a city we know and love, Minneapolis! After greeting our out of town guests and tolerating many jokes about the frigid weather, the Keynote team spent one week deeply engaged and committed to the pursuit of knowledge and advocacy within the field.

Check out some of our team members' highlights of the event:


*University of Minnesota Music Therapy squad gathers for a picture*

Favorite Seminar: The keynote address by Ted Bowman. He reminded me that no matter where we work, we are always with people during difficult transitions and to always “handle your words with care.” Words, music, and especially together, are powerful things once put out into the world. They cannot be reversed.

Most impressionable moment: It was so memorable to me to see all of the MN music therapists and music therapy students stand up at the opening session. I was so proud of MN for hosting a great conference and showing up to be together and learn!

Mindfulness: Being part of the planning committee really helped me appreciate the hours and hours of work that go into making a conference run smoothly. SO much thought, energy, and care goes into every decision and it truly was special to be part of it.


*Chantise displays her amazing thesis!*

Favorite seminar: One of my favorite sessions was titled “Guitar Rhythms and Patterns for Everyday Use: Beyond Basic Skills.” I loved this session because the presenters provided simple and effective ways to enhance guitar skills. I always want to further develop my guitar skills but sometimes get overwhelmed with where to start or feel like I don’t have time to learn new skills. This session gave me concrete ways to improve my guitar playing in very little time.

Most Impressionable moment: I attended a round table for music therapists of color and it was really impactful to hear and share experiences of navigating the music therapy profession as a person of color.

I also got to attend and help with a CMTE on NICU music therapy and had the opportunity to meet and learn from researchers and clinicians doing amazing work with premature infants and their caregivers.

I presented my thesis paper at the research poster session and it was really great to share my research with other professionals and students.

Self Care: I was able to share meals and conversations with some amazing friends and colleagues which helped me to feel refreshed!


*Carolyn and colleagues show off their new instruments*

Favorite seminar: I took a course about “entering elderhood.” We analyzed lyrics of many popular songs by seasoned musicians such as Mavis Staples, Willie Nelson and Dollie Parton. Some of these songs reiterated the notion that aging is synonymous with restriction and deteriorating physical, social, spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Others were powerful reminders of the freedom to be playful and accepting of the body and minds’ progressions. The course will definitely inform my perspectives and work as I move forward.

Most impressionable moment: Seeing Gaellynn Lea perform at our big opening session. She is a perfect example of the way art can promote social justice and positive changes in the world. My favorite song that she performed was “Watch the World Unfold.”

Self-Care: One of my colleagues gave me the motivation I needed to attend a SEVEN A.M. POUND® workout class. The class utilizes drum sticks and drumming techniques to achieve a full body workout. I was sore for at least 3 days.

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