Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

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Q and A about Music Therapy

I was asked to share about my profession of Music Therapydrumcircle.

And so, without further ado, here are the questions followed by my responses:

Hope you enjoy!

1. To start, could you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your backstory?
I am originally from New York, and moved to Los Angeles about 34 years ago. I always loved music, rhyming, composing lyrics, singing and playing piano. More recently, I studied harp and play that instrument as well for my current clients and patients. I hold a B.A. in music, and a M.A. in Special Education. I’ve worked as a music therapist with children who have developmental disabilities, as well as patients in hospice care.
2. In layman’s terms, what is a music therapist?
A music therapist is a trained professional who uses music for non-music purposes for clients and patients. Music is the tool that helps the therapist reach the patient. The music combined with the personality of the therapist and the therapeutic relationship are what propel the patient forward in growth. A music therapist assesses a patient, plans treatment, and documents results of goals and objectives.
3. What type of disorders do music therapists treat?
Autism, Down syndrome and various developmental disabilities. Elderly patients who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Stroke victims. Speech disorders. Psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder. Addiction, and personality disorders. These are just a few – there are others.
4. What led you to want to become a music therapist?
When I was in my mid-20’s, I experienced a life changing experience- the sudden death of my infant daughter–who had a congenital heart defect, and music helped me recover, heal from the pain, and gain a sense of self and structure. I recalled my first piano teacher had been a music therapist who worked with autistic and developmentally disabled children, helping them through music establish relationships.

My admiration for this teacher combined with my personal healing through music compelled me to go back to school for my second bachelor’s degree in music (my first was in Computers), and a credential in Music Therapy. At the time, I had been giving piano lessons to neighboring children, teaching music appreciation. Several years later, I earned my Master’s degree in Special Education for moderate to severe disabilities.
5. What musical instruments do you play? Which ones do you use in your therapy sessions and why?
Piano, keyboard, voice, harp.
I use all in my sessions. Depending on what instrument the patient would respond to, I use that one. My goal is to engage the patient and I choose an instrument that would facilitate that engagement and participation. Sometimes I only use voice..I also use rhythm instruments with certain clients – such as percussion instruments, maracas, cabasas, egg shakers, castanets.
6. What does a typical music therapy session look like in terms of length (time) and activities?
Music is highly structured. A session has a beginning, middle and end. For group sessions, I begin with a hello song or activity. Then I progress with a particular goal and theme for the session. I will build activities around that theme. Every session turns out differently depending upon the clients. I usually conclude with some kind of good-bye activity where we wrap up what we’ve learned. For individual sessions, it’s more client-centered. I may do an improvisational technique where the client and I will mirror each other with a xylophone or other instrument that is easily accessible to a non-musical client. That establishes the relationship with echoing and mirroring. There are so many techniques that can be used. But in a nutshell – every session has to have the structure of beginning middle and end.
7. For our readers who may be interested in music therapy services for either themselves or a loved one: How does one find/choose a music therapist? What tips can you offer to aid in the search?
One may go the website of the American Music Therapy Association, the AMTA – which is the site where one can find all accredited and board certified music therapists in the U.S. – particularly in the state and city where you may live.
The site is http://www.musictherapy.org


The Grands

My son and daughter-in-law went somewhere the other day and left our grandson,  their two-year old son with us for a few hours. He screamed and cried so loudly when they left, “Mommy, Daddy,…” that I thought the neighbors down the block would hear. (some exaggeration here).

But seriously, he really cried like he meant it. He eventually calmed down and was a happy camper, but his method of communication that was so “real” and “honest” made me think about my own honesty in my communication.

Do we all express our feelings to our close ones like we really mean it? Or do we muffle our sound because we want to please the next person? Are we afraid to look bad so we don’t express what we really mean, or at least tell the other one  “Let’s agree to disagree,” rather than misrepresenting ourselves and our reality? Continue reading


Fake It Till You Make It

The email in my box from my friend read “Are you okay? I’m worried about you. You haven’t blogged in days.”

Did I have to apologize to my readers – or even this reader, who is a good friend? I’m not sure if I have to ‘splain, but that’s what I do. I ‘splain. I was busy, I was swamped. All the usual excuses. But as my dad always told me, “Qui s’excuse, s’accuse.” I only sound more foolish with silly explanations.

Okay, onward. My topic today is about faking it. No explaining. No excuses. Just pretending to do things the right way.

What am I talking about??? Well let me explain – I mean let me elaborate! Continue reading


My Harp

I am a pianist. I have played since I’ve been a little girl. Somehow the piano resonated with me; I loved moving my fingers across the keys, practicing my songs so that I got them to sound better and better, and just relaxing through the music.

I tried some other instruments over the years – guitar, recorder – but none of them stuck. As a music therapist, we had to become “proficient” at guitar – but it never happened with me.

Then came my harp. It was love at first sight and sound. I don’t recall what made me try that instrument, but it might have had to do with the fact that I was friendly with a friend of a harp teacher. One thing led to another, and I was taking lessons on this huge, humongous harp that I rented. It sat in my family room. Continue reading


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