Part 2 of Making Connections with Music Therapy – Featuring Amanda Latham Board Certified Music Therapist
“Everybody deserves music therapy!”
“Music is something that connects all people.”
“It allows you to relax and reduce anxiety.”
All of these are statements made throughout our interview with music therapist Amanda Latham. Whether you are a musician or simply a lover of music, how could you argue? One very important subject to come out of the conversation, however, was the need for music therapy in special needs education and how it is different than music education. Our focus quickly became the future of music therapy, at the Harbor and Alpha Schools, and how music therapy legislation is being ushered in the state of New Jersey.
For a time, Amanda was a member of the NJ State Task Force on Occupational Regulation (NJSTF). The goal of the NJSTF was to advocate for the music therapy profession and convince legislators to pass the Music Therapist Licensing Act. The bill would ensure that music therapists receive specific credentialing requirements to work in their profession. The profession of music therapy serves victims of abuse, those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Chronic Pain, Eating Disorders, Developmental Disabilities and more.
To achieve the title of Board Certified Music Therapist (CB-MT), it begins with a bachelor’s or master’s degree program in music therapy, approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). They would also have to achieve an entry-level competency in music, clinical therapy, and music therapy foundations. From there, they are required to accrue a total of at least 1200 hours of supervised clinical training, including a supervised internship. Once these educational and clinical training requirements are meet, they next need to pass the national board exam given by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. It is at that point they are a Board Certified Music Therapist. Among the universities that send their students to accrue hours of supervised clinical training, was Amanda’s alma mater, Montclair State University.
With one of their graduates established at Harbor and Alpha, Montclair has been sending students to complete fieldwork by observing two classes per week. It adds up to 60 field hours, 30 per week. They quickly graduate to writing session plans and then take over groups. Eventually, someone from the university comes to observe them.
As far as our students are concerned, the future is reflected in those students who are making the all-important transition, either as graduates or as members of the adult day program. Harbor and Alpha students join us as early as age 5 and sometimes stay with us as long as age 21.
The music therapy program hopes that they will take music with them as a coping skill. In a very personal touch, soon-to-be graduates are encouraged to put down their feelings in a song, which Amanda helps them write. The song is then recorded so they can listen afterward.
It is unfortunate, according to Amanda, that there is very little music therapy opportunities once a special needs student transitions into adult life. However, here at Harbor and Alpha, there is plenty to look forward to.
Like any school, we have our Winter and Spring Concerts. Every class performs a routine. We have a dance group that performs, as well. All of our special groups, which train all year, will have something prepared, including Chorus, Hand Bells, Rhythm Band, and High School Band. We are so very fortunate to have Amanda Latham, not only as our Music Teacher/Music Specialist but as a leader in her field.
Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey
Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.
— Anne Gunteski,
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ