Saturday, August 12, 2017

#AMTA14 Conference Recap

Conference was way back on November 6-9, 2014 in Louisville, KY, but I’m just now getting some time to write about my experiences there. I posted my planned conference schedule and broadcast live from the exhibit hall, where I shared my experiences. I also posted a guest post from Erin Lunde, who was an AMTA conference newbie! Now I’ll share my thoughts with a bit more detail and a different spin than the radio show.

I’ve attended conferences since 1991. I think I may have missed one in that time. And I’ve just recently finished terms of office on all boards and committees, so this is only my second conference as a “regular” conference attendee. Last year, I can hardly remember because I attended with my 4 month old child….

I arrived on Thursday morning and had no obligations until the opening session. I remember being a student and feeling so inspired and energized after opening session. There was music and celebrations of music therapy advances and media presentations, and REAL LIVE music therapists there. All of that still happens, but now I don’t get that same sense of energy. I miss that and hope that new music therapists and students get to feel that.

This year’s opening session was fun, though. I actually know the people getting the Lifetime Achievement awards, so that part means a little more to me than it did when I was a student/new professional. Bryan Hunter and Connie Tomaino deserved the recognition and I was pleased to celebrate with them. My favorite part was the progressive bluegrass band, Down On 5th. They were fantastic! And Carolyn Dobson clogged on stage with them.

carolyn clogs

The Exhibit Spectacular and Reception have become less about the exhibits and more about reunions with friends and colleagues I get to see once a year. By the time that was over, I was pretty tired and had just received some unexpected personal news, so I went to bed. As a student/new professional, I used to watch other more experienced music therapists go to bed rather than hang out or go out and experience the awesome city and talk with friends. As I’ve gotten “more experienced” I understand!!!

Friday morning started early. I intended to go to a session at 7:30, but when the time came, I just didn’t feel like rushing the morning. So I took my time getting ready and attended Shannon de l’Etoile’s presentation on Infant Response to Auditory Rhythm. There were several other presentations I was interested in at that time, but I had just listened to her talk about this research in an AMTA.Pro podcast so I wanted to hear the updates on this research.

Next I attended the AMTA Business meeting. These are never very exciting or fun, but I feel it’s important to stay informed on what the Association is doing. Plus, it’s nice to support those receive awards.

I skipped the networking lunch to enjoy some time with a friend, but it sounds like I should have attended the Music Therapy Business Owners lunch because from what I hear, big things happened there!

After lunch, there were many sessions I was interested in, but I thought it was important to attend the Ethics Board panel on Ethical Considerations for Faculty and Supervisors to keep my ethical thinking process on the right track.

The keynote address was by Dr. John Creswell, who is one of the preeminent experts on mixed methods research. I’m not particularly interested in doing research, but I liked his presentation style. I also think it’s important to keep up with research and thought this address may help me understand some of the research better. I also studied his presentation style and thought of ways to incorporate it into my own style. See? You can turn any experience into a valuable one if you’re open-minded!

Finally, I attended the Master’s Level Entry Subcommittee Update for Educators and Internship Directors. Another dry topic, but I think staying informed and sharing my thoughts on the topic are crucial to good music therapy practice.

The evening was my favorite part: The Music Therapy Business Owners held a “happy hour” in the hotel restaurant. I went to have a place to eat dinner. But I came out of that with a new focus and some great feedback on my projects!

The best part of the evening was a concert in my hotel suite by one of my friends, Jaunetta Cooper! We put out snacks and sang songs. She’s amazing! If you’re in Houston, TX you might see her at an open mic sometime. Definitely worth it!

In Room concert

She even raised some money for Leukemia research with this concert.

Saturday morning started with the Regional business meetings. These are always the first thing in the morning and by Saturday, everyone is pretty tired. However, these regional business meetings are the most important to attend, in my opinion. First, the regional officers work really hard, and attendance shows support. Second, the committee members give reports–more detailed than you receive at AMTA business meetings–and this is how I stay informed about what is happening in our association. Seriously, this stuff is important!

I was pretty disappointed to see that AMTA had scheduled sessions to begin at 9 am when regional business meetings were scheduled until 9:15 am. This should NEVER happen again….

After the business meeting, I tried to attend The Neuroscience Behind Music Therapy, by Maria Battista-Hancock, Arnulfo Torres, and Brandon Salzman. But the room was packed and the guy talking when I entered was going over information that I already knew, with a very dry presentation, and with an accent that was challenging to decipher at the speed with which he was talking, so I left and found some friends to hang out with.

I attended the DSM-5 revision presentation by Eric Walden because I had just read his article in Music Therapy Perspectives on this. The article was interesting and his presentation was also very good. He made a topic that might not be so entertaining be very interesting. I learned the content of his presentation and also picked up some more presentation tips.

I broadcast my show at the Music Therapy Round Table booth, with assistance from Michelle Erfurt, and then got some lunch.


After lunch, there were many sessions I wanted to attend, but the State Task Force Boot Camp was going on all afternoon. If you aren’t participating in your State Task Force, you need to. There are many ways to help–for all levels of ability, and not all of them take a lot of time. Plus, the folks on your State Task Force are making decisions that will affect your practice as a music therapist. So you should be involved and stay informed!

If you ARE participating on a State Task Force, attend all the things they have for you at national conference because “Judenberly” treats you very, very well. This three hour CMTE course was free for Task Force members. And more importantly, THERE WERE SNACKS! Good snacks. And Coffee. Plus the information was good, too. The funny thing was that a Louisville KY representative showed up so all the MTs from KY were called out, plus Judy Simpson, to talk with this person. Talk about Boot Camp!

The second AMTA business meeting occurred next, and this is the one where most of the business actually gets reported and acted on. Then “Judenberly” hosted the State Task Force reception. Again, we were treated very well. This is a low key event with thank yous, informal chatting, wine and food.

Then I supported my good friend at the Caberet, where there was a cash bar and refreshments, and some great singing in a more informal, open mic-style atmosphere. I actually went to bed early this night and slept best.

roomies ky

I had good intentions to attend sessions Sunday morning, but I was presenting and needed to meet with my co-presenter to finish the presentation!! Carolyn Dobson and I presented I’ve Graduated…Now What? Skills to Pursue Your Dream Job. We shared how we plan for new populations and network for jobs and lots of other strategies. We got some nice feedback after the session.


dobson presentation
I had a great time at conference and learned a LOT. I hope to meet you sometime at conference!!

I sure missed this guy, though.

Kyle on a walk 11-6-14