Throw-back-Sunday: Listening as a Component of Relationship in Music Therapy

Hi all,

As I begin to prepare my course material for the upcoming seamster, I came across this terrific blog post on the site authored by my friend and colleague, Dr. Nancy Jackson. It’s a terrific post that I always work into my clinical improvisation course each seamster. So…there’s no better time then the present for a  throw-back-blog post dealing with the art of listening in relationship-based music therapy. 


In mental health practicum the other week, a student asked how it is that one decides what to focus on in a session when the clients have so many different problems and limitations that need attention.  My reply to him was something like this:

“At every moment, your clients are telling you what they need. But this means that you must truly be listening. Listening doesn’t just happen with your ears, though. You also listen with your eyes, with your intuition, with your e-countertransferences, really with your whole being. You must listen deeply to what the client says, to what he doesn’t say, to what he tells you through behaviors, through affect, through interactions, and through the way he musically expresses himself and communicates. It is when you deeply listen to the client and respond to what he is telling you from moment to moment that you are truly engaged in therapy with the client.”

As an educator, I often struggle with how to teach undergraduate students about the less concrete but undoubtedly integral aspects of music therapy practice – things such as authenticity, trust, being “in the moment”, etc. Listening, […]

1 WEEK left for Early bird Registration for IMCAP Course, Columbia MD


1 week remaining for EARLY BIRD Registration for IMCAP-ND CMTE Course at Howard Community College (Ends on April 15th!)

Are you interested in learning more about working within a Developmental Relationship-based Music Therapy Model? Here’s an opportunity to do so while earning 35 CMTE Credits! Click HERE for more information!

You will expand your knowledge on how to:

  • Create musical experiences that target specific musical areas that deal with
    • A) Social-Emotional Skills
    • B) Cognitive and Perceptual Skills
    • C) Preferences, Efficiency, Arousal Levels
  • Observe, assess, and score target responses within the context of relational musical-play
  • Create and write individualized goals and treatment plans
  • Communicate assessment findings to caregivers and healthcare professionals
  • Gain a deeper understanding of your musical tendencies and habitual responses as a musician and music therapist

By registering for this course you will receive complimentry Developmental, Relationship-based Music Therapy course materials (as  well an opportunity for discounted supervision/coaching): 

  • Receive 50% off IMCAP-based reflective supervision for up to 5 supervision sessions
  • A 10-pack of IMCAP-ND Rating Scale Booklets
  • IMCAP-ND Work Guide that includes:
  • Musical resources for the music therapist
  • Quality of Interaction rating chart
  • Procedural work phase check list
  • Clinical sample of IMCAP-ND rating scores (Scales I, II, & III)
  • IMCAP-ND goal bank
  • Clinical techniques guidelines (procedural phases and music domain areas)

The IMCAP-ND 2-day CMTE course with post-course assignments provides an opportunity to earn 35 CMTE Credits. This course will be held at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD on May 2nd and 3rd.

Click HERE to register!



Spring 2014 Discount for IMCAP-ND Products!

Hi all,

Developmental Music Health is kicking in Spring 2014 by offering a 15% DISCOUNT  for the next 7 days on all IMCAP-ND products. Beginning today, March 18th 2014, and through March 25th, we are offering a 15% discount on all  IMCAP-ND Clinical Manuals and IMCAP-ND Rating Scale purchases. This offer will ONLY last 7 days (ending March 25th).

To receive your 15% discount, simply click on the link below, choose the product that you would like to order, and then simply enter the promotional discount code: IMCAPDIR

To place your order and to find out more about the IMCAP-ND Manual, please click HERE. 

For international orders, please click HERE.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about how to applying and integrating the IMCAP-ND into your clinical practice, check out out our upcoming IMCAP-ND CMTE courses that will be offered in Maryland, New York, and Virginia! This exciting NEW 2-day course (with post-course assignments) provides music therapists with the opportunity to EARN 35 CMTE credits!



IMCAP-ND Manual Available for Pre-Ordering!

IMCAP-ND Cover SpreadHello all,

I’m happy to share that the Individual Music-Centered Assessment Profile for Neurodevelopmental Disorders (IMCAP-ND): A Clinical Manual is now available for Pre-Ordering. By Pre-Ordering a copy of the IMCAP-ND Manual you will receive 10 free rating scale booklets (a value of $9.50).

Pre-orders can be made by visiting Developmental Music Health Services at

To view contents and reviews of the IMCAP-ND Manual click on the links below:

Click to Read  Reviews

Click to Read Table of Contents

Click to Read Foreword

Here’s what professionals are saying about the IMCAP-ND:

“The IMCAP-ND is a paradigm shift and revolutionary force, and will surely transform the very landscape of music therapy assessment” -From the book’s foreword, Brian Abrams, Ph.D., LCAT, MT-BC

“This clinical manual will be an indispensable tool for all music therapists who believe in the power of affect to help clients relate and communicate through the experience of musical-play.” -Cecilia Breinbauer, M.D.

“The IMCAP-NC includes three scales that are easily scored and compiled and which give solid information on the client’s strengths and needs as well as clear guidance on setting clinical goals.” -Elizabeth Schwartz, M.A., LCAT, MT-BC

“The ‘right brain’ is given a voice in the IMCAP-ND and offers all pediatric disciplines a window into the full range of human drama.” -Gerard Costa, Ph.D.

“John Carpente’s new book helps to fill that gap by presenting a set of music-centered rating scales that examine clients’ capacity to musically interact and thus present a musical way of thinking about, working with, and understanding clients.” -Christian Gold, Ph.D

TRAININGS: Please stay tuned […]

Music Therapist, Andre Brandalise Explores the Importance of “Clinical Themes” in Music Therapy

Greetings Musicers! Thanks for tuning in to the “guest blogger” series. It’s been a real treat for me to include such wonderful music therapists on this blog.

This next guest post brings an international music-centered perspective on the importance of musical processes in therapy, specifically on the topic of the “clinical theme.” So, that being said,  It is my pleasure to introduce my Brazilian brother and fellow music therapist, Andre Brandalise. Andre’s post derives from last week’s Temple University’s Arts & Quality of life Research Conference: Four Models of Music Therapy at Temple University. The conference showcased several music therapy models/tracks, including Music-Centered Music Therapy. I had the pleasure and honor of being one of the music-centered presenters along with Dr. Kenneth Aigen, Michael Viega and Andre Brandalise. Andre introduced the audience to the term “Clinical Theme”  within the context of music-centered thinking. Although the term was coined by the late Dr. Clive Robbins, it had never been formally defined in the the Nordoff and Robbins literature. Based on talks with Drs. Clive Robbins and Alan Turry, Andre shares for the first time, his interpretation of the definition and function of the “Clinical Theme” in music therapy. Thank you Andre for sharing this with us!

The Clinical Theme:

Clients Opening their Doors to Musicality

for Relationship, Creativity and Development

André Brandalise, MA

(to my dear friend and esteemed colleague Dr. John Carpente)

In order to explain to people what music therapists do, I generally use a metaphor: we “knock on the doors of our clients’ musicality” asking if they will allow us to enter into their musical world. As music therapists, our primary […]

How Important are Music Skills for the Music Therapist?

How Important are Music Skills for the Music Therapist?

As an educator and clinical supervisor, the question regarding the importance of music skills on the part of music therapists continues to repeat itself. How important is it for the music therapist to have a high level of music skills? And, what does high level mean? And furthermore, are functional skills enough? And, what does functional mean? I have experienced a huge divide in how music therapists view these questions. This topic and these questions have nothing to do with clinical orientation or philosophical beliefs, and yet there is a huge discrepancy in how we (music therapy profession) view the importance of music skills on the part of the therapist. (Please note that I’m using the term music skills as opposed to musical skills; which is a completely different skill).

Because we as MTs are using or working WITH music, and all of its dimensions, does that not also give us the clinical responsibility of understanding the language of music, theoretically and practically? How can we fully understand the clinical potential of music if we are limited in the area of musicianship? To that end, if musicianship is somewhat lacking, does that mean that sessions may be being built around the therapist’s musical strengths, weakness, and preferences? And, if so, whose needs are we meeting? Is the music client-centered or therapist-centered? (Aren’t there some ethical implications that need to be considered?)

In pondering questions, regarding therapists music skill level, I think about how I might feel if I were a client in talk therapy and the therapist had a difficult time expressing him or herself in words as […]

Musical Resources for the Improvising Music Therapist: MIXOLYDIAN MODE FOR GUITAR

Below is a brief introduction to the mixolydian mode for guitar. Also included are some practice ideas to help incorporate this mode into your clinical tool box.



 Mixolydian Mode

Diagram 1: Root is on 2nd fret (6th string)/2nd finger on the 6th string

Diagram 2: Root is open E (6th string) on the 6th string

Diagram 3: (Major/Mixolydian)Root is on 2nd fret (6th string)/ 2nd finger on the 6th string (this diagram displays Major scale octave leading to mixolydian (minor 7th)

Diagram 4: Root on open E and also combines Major and Mixolydian (see diagram 3)

Diagram 5: alternate fingers crossing scale/mode

  • The relationship to the major scale (5th degree)
  • Relationship between major scale and Mixolydian
  • Based on the 5th scale degree of the relative major scale
  • Varies from the major scale by the flatted 7th.
  • The scale degrees are R, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and b7

Mixolydian: Basic Chords/Triads

I Chord Major G-B-D
ii Chord Minor A-C-E
iii Chord Diminished B-D-F
IV Chord Major C-E-G
V Chord Minor D-F-A
Vi Chord Minor E-G-A
VII Chord Major F-A-C

Practice Techniques

 Exploring the Mixolydian: It’s a Process

  • Sing the scale and begin to anticipate and “hear” the b7 (minor 7th)
  • Sing & develop short melodic themes that you repeat (emphasize the b7th)
  • Create tonal center (we are in G mixo, not C major, yes?)
  • On piano/guitar begin with a simple ostinati in the left hand and begin to sing
  • Continue with osinati and play in the right hand/sing your simple created melody
  • Understanding harmonies (develop chords on each tone)
  • Choose 2 chords and play a melody […]

Musical Resources for the Improvising Music Therapist: Middle Eastern Idiom for Guitar





  • This particular Middle Eastern Idiom is based on a major scale (D, Eb, F#, G, A, Bb, C#, D)
  • Based on a major scale with the 2nd (E-Eb) and 6th (B-Bb) degrees lowered a ½ step
  • Triads: I Major, II Major, iii minor, iv minor, V7 b5th, VI Major, vii min- 3rd double flatted and minor 5th
  • Highlights: Minor 2nd, leap between 6th and 7th degree and I and II chords are both Major
  • I and II chords create the tensions and “pull” between the harmonies


  • Begin by playing the scale on 1 string only while singing
  • Play the scale (1 octave) starting with 1st finger on D (5th string/5th fret), 2nd finger on Eb (5th string/6th fret), stretching the 4th finger to F# (5th string/9th fret), 1st finger on G (4th (string/5th fret), 3rd finger on A (4th string/7th fret), 4th finger on Bb (4th string/8th fret), 2nd finger on C# (3rd string/6th fret), and 3rd finger on D (3rd string/7th fret)
  • Over emphasized vibrato while playing the scale on each note is recommended. So dig in! (using vibrato is an important characteristic of the guitar, and can bring the notes and melodies to life!)


  • Utilizing the I and II chords (both Major) beginning with the open string D major chord, and sliding (same finger position) up 1 fret making an Eb Major chord
  • Utilizing the I and II chords (D and Eb) using 5th string root bar chords, or 6th string […]