Coachella Valley Music Therapy | Amanda Neira
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Author:Amanda Neira

Music Therapy and Older Adults

The recognition of the effects of music on people living with Alzheimer’s/Dementia is becoming increasingly more recognized. What a lot of people do not know is that there are certified health professionals out there that are trained to use music in a therapeutic context. These professionals are called Music Therapists. They must obtain a 4-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, acquire 1200 clinical hours within those four years, along with a 6-month internship post bachelor’s coursework. After graduating from their internship, they are allowed to sit for their board’s exam and become MT-BC (Music Therapist Board Certified). The definition of music therapy according to the American Music Therapy Association is as follows:

Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Music therapy interventions can be designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication, and provide unique opportunities for interaction. Research in music therapy supports the effectiveness of interventions in many areas such as facilitating movement and overall physical rehabilitation, increasing motivation to engage in treatment, providing emotional support for clients and their families, and creating an outlet for expression of feelings. Because music therapy is a powerful and non-threatening medium, unique outcomes are possible (

Among older adults, research has proven that music therapy can help reduce current symptoms and prolong the digression process. Using old familiar tunes that are stored in the long term memory is beneficial to people with Alzheimer’s/Dementia. With this in mind, music therapists use preferred music to help encourage conversation about memories associated with particular preferred music. Not only does this technique help maintain current cognitive functioning but it also increases quality of life.

People often ask the question “Why is my loved one not able to talk in fluid sentences but can sing a song without skipping a word?” In your brain you have a section that activates language, another for motor, another for vision, another for speech and so on. Studies have shown that music activates multiple areas simultaneously. This activation allows for multiple pathways to be made and it allows for them to access those long term memories from a multitude of different pathways. So when you hear a song from your past you can process it not only aurally (by listening) but sometimes emotionally through reminiscing on a specific time and on the occasion smell.

If you want to learn about the effects of music therapy on older adults or other populations, information is available on my website at or through the American Music Therapy Association website at



An Introduction: How Coachella Valley Music Therapy Got Its Start!

Hello fellow Coachella Valley natives! It has been a wonderful couple of weeks getting to know people in the valley area. I thought it would be only fair to allow you to get to know me also! So for my first blog post I thought I would share the story about my business with all of you!

I lived in the Coachella Valley back in May 2011 to December 2011 for my internship at Oasis Rehabilitation center. I fell in love with the valley and wanted to stay. I also noticed the need for Music Therapy in the valley. The only one here at the time was my internship director who soon after moved to San Diego. But due to the lack of work I decided to return to the midwest and pursue my masters degree in St. Louis at Maryville University. For four years I kept pursuing different options on how to return to the desert but nothing had seemed to work out.

In August of 2014 I was approached on Facebook by a Coachella Valley resident wanting Music Therapy services for his mother. After doing some research he noticed that there were no Board Certified Music Therapists in the valley. I decided to market by cold calling from St. Louis and then flew out to the desert to see his mother and a few other clients who had expressed interest. As you can see the trip went well and in October 2014 Coachella Valley Music Therapy was established!

For the next 7 months I would fly out once a month to see new and existing clients. Over the course of those 7 months people continued to express their growing interest for the need of Music Therapy in the valley. In May of 2015 I decided it was time to commit to making the full time move here. So on July 5th 2015 I packed up my apartment, said goodbye to my family and friends and moved to California!

I have been here full time for about a month now and have been trying to meet as many people as possible! I want to change lives using music with as many people in the Coachella Valley area as I can!


First Blog Coming Monday August 3, 2015!

 I am excited to offer a new Blog for the Coachella Valley residents. It will tell you a little bit about myself so you can get to know me along with the story of how my business got started. It will keep you up to date on new things happening for music therapy in the area along with an introduction of what it is we do as music therapists! So stay tuned for a new blog post every Monday!

First Blog: An Introduction: How Coachella Valley Music Therapy Got Its Start!