Are You Misunderstood?

Do you constantly have to explain what you are doing as a music therapist? This week’s Shout-Out pertains to EVERY music therapist on the planet.

We are shouting out Kristin in Chicago! She writes that her biggest challenge is getting others to value her work as a music therapist.

We turn her challenge around and give one simple suggestion. This suggestion will either (1) offend you or (2) revolutionize your presentations. You choose. Click the video below to make your decision.

And as always, we welcome your comments below!

Be well, feel good, and keep rockin’ music therapy,

Julie A. Palmieri, MM, MT-BC
Community Manager –

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  1. Great presentation on that question. I feel the same way and I’ve been at my job for 14years. I do feel, that, when staff members make comments, that it’s an opportunity to educate them a little about what Music Therapy is. Even some of the cleaning staff have shared how music helps his day go by faster on the unit and he can see improvements with the patients. I get involved in committees as well, like – patient experience – where we look as a team on how we can improve our services, environment, etc. for our patients. I haven’t given a presentation in quite a while, but I definitely keep these suggestions in mind. Thanks!

  2. Kat, this is spot on with what i’ve read in every marketing book ever. Thank you for this valuable and important reminder. I am, right this moment, thinking about how I can apply this thought process to saving a music therapy position at our facility!

  3. Thanks for that “out-of-the-box” approach, which seems like it should be more obvious, but for some reason it’s not.
    I feel music therapist do fret about this “why don’t my colleagues get it!” concept all too often. What you proposed is a very basic and successful human interaction approach: listening goes further than talking.

    • Totally my point, Jessica! Yes! It’s EASY to let the frustration overcome our commitment to service. Thank you for your comment here, and let’s keep tying in that emotional connection to our presentations! =)

  4. Exactly Kat! I stopped doing my standard powerpoint in services a few years ago for the same reason – I was so busy trying to convince staff of how educated/fantastic I was, I completely missed the point – and so did they! My biggest tips are to TELL them how music therapy works by using case examples (real or fictional) that are relevant to the population being served and to SHOW them how it works by doing a short experiential exercise with them that gets them laughing together. My favourite ones are ‘guess that pop tune’ (usually played on a plastic recorder by me), and ‘you can play that’ – give them all a hand bell and get them to play Happy Birthday together. When done in a fun and grown-up way, these are awesome to allow staff/benefactors/directors to experience the power of music.

  5. Music therapists would never approach a client with a one size fits all treatment plan….why do this in presentations. That never made sense to me and has never made sense in the business world. Educating others at any level is just an expansion of the treatment process…assess, plan, implement, evaluate. Just did CMTE advocacy training for our state task force and this very issue came up. Whether an administrator, parent group, docs, educators, health administrators or legislators you must match a mediate or nothing changes…is learned.

  6. I think I’ve done a good job in the past of tailoring my presentations towards the particular client population being addressed, but not necessarily the needs of the people in the audience. So, I’m great at showing and telling about how music therapy helps people with dementia, but haven’t been so great about making the connection to how that helps the nursing home/administrator/nursing staff/activity director, etc.

    Also, this helped me to understand why I often resist using Powerpoint slides – in a live presentation, I want to be able to respond to the audience in real time, with examples that make sense according to their questions, etc., instead of having to stick to a prepared presentation.

    Great food for thought!

  7. Thought provoking video – thanks Kat. Hi Kristin! My understanding is that people buy feelings, not products. We choose our coffee shop not based on the product but the feeling that product gives us. Throughout the public speaking industry one key question seems more important than all others…..what feeling do you hope to leave your audience with? and what experience will lead them to that desired outcome (feeling)? The best quality presentations are ones that linger afterwards – the one you can not stop thinking about. For this to happen a strong feeling needs to anchor the person to the presentation/topic/presenter. Every presentation will be different. Some people use power point really effectively, some people know how to weave a story and a point and make the audience feel they are plopped right in the picture being verbally depicted whereas some get you excited with high content, high stats. Regardless of whether you are speaking to medical doctors or caregivers, teachers or students, in the moment you are doing the presentation they (the audience) are essentially deciding whether they are buying YOU…..and if they buy you they will more often than not want what you are selling (or at least try it). That is why it is, as this video states, important to know your audience. An area you may want to consider looking at is developing Referent Power (something we can carry with us for the duration of our career – and into our personal lives too) – Kat I believe this is what you are getting us to highlight in our Presentation focus – Referent power is an aspect of personal power and becomes particularly important in organizational leadership – it is based in collaboration and influence rather than command and control….. Cheers to everyone out there working on making great presentations and advocating for our clients, while promoting this profession (it really is unique and special 🙂

  8. Right on, Kat Fulton!
    Awesome response~~~Yay, YES: Know your audience! And work your personal ‘magic’ of music therapy power-connection. You are so right, Listening is key!
    Thank you for all you do to bring music therapy tips and talents to the grass roots, simply awesome work you’re doing for all of us! Peace filled cheers to you!

  9. Thank you for talking about a change of perspective that I think is much needed in our profession. I work with my mother who is a physiotherapist which means I am lucky and get to see very closely the side of other therapists. I think if we focus on listening to others, respecting what They do, and really finding out how we can fit in with that and help where it’s needed, that we will gain the respect we want. I still don’t know a lot of what goes into others’ jobs, so how can I get upset that they don’t know as much about music therapy as I do? I’ve actually found many people to be really receptive to music therapy. But I think it’s our responsibility to show respect to others, listen hard to others and what they need, instead of just selling them on what we are, that we are the most ‘special’ or ‘unique’ profession. There are amazing professions out there so let’s recognize them.

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