AMTA Regional Conference 2017

AMTA Regional Conferences 2017



Since 2013 Bear Paw Creek has been advertising or sending donations/door prizes to the regional music therapy conferences.

This year we will also have our products on display at the GLR Conference! It’s already full swing and it sounds like loads of fun.

I’d love to have some social media fun and get some glimpses of what’s going on this year!

Read on!

Regional AMTA Conferences 2017

Tag Bear Paw Creek – To Win!

The internet and social media has opened up a whole new world for Bear Paw Creek.

With it, we are able to connect one and one and build relationships across the globe. I love it!

I thought it would be fun to play a little game during the weeks of the AMTA Regional conferences.  Our products will be showing up in giveaways and also in some exhibit halls.  If you spy some, take a picture, and tag us with @bearpawcreek or #bearpawcreek.

At the end of the conference we will giveaway a $50 gift card to use in our store!

Tag Your It @bearpawcreek #bearpawcreek

Janet Stephens is the founder and creator behind Bear Paw Creek’s creative movement props and bags. She is passionate about learning and sharing along the way.

What Does a Music Therapist Do Anyway?

Learning about music therapy.



When I was in high school, I remember one person saying she was interested in going into Music Therapy. I also remember thinking, that’s a thing? It seemed like something pretty neat, but I had no context for it.  

 For many years that has been the case with the majority of people, but thankfully that is changing. 

Music and emotions.

I’m going to talk to you about music from a layperson’s perspective here.

Let’s not make it complicated, we all know that music impacts us, don’t we? That’s why we put on certain kinds of music when we need motivation to work hard physically (whether it’s on the basketball court or mopping the floor). Melancholy music suits us when we have a broken heart. Joyful music is used in all kinds of celebration. Orchestral music, while it doesn’t have a literal story line often tells of a mood that we can collectively agree on. Composer John Williams is well known for writing the theme music which carried us along in our favorite films.

We know this, we know that somehow music gets into us and the effect runs deep.

Music therapists study the scientific components of what happens emotionally and neurologically to a person when music is played, then uses that knowledge to integrate music in therapy. More study is being done on the effects on the brain and development of children when music combined with music are a routine part of their lives. The possibility that music aids in healing is being explored as music is brought into hospitals for children, babies and older patients. Children and young persons with autism are benefitting from therapy involving music, often one on one with a therapist. And there is some exploration of bringing music therapy into schools.

So much has been gained in the area of research, but I hope to see it continue so that more people can benefit from music therapy.

It seems to me that music therapists, while relatively new in profession, bring to the table one of the oldest friends of mental and emotional health, making it accessible to those who need it most. You see, those who are very young, very old, physically or mentally sick often don’t have access to music the way we do. 

If a teen with a broken heart can find a little comfort in the rhythm and words of this song by going to Youtube and dancing to something like this. Dancing in itself can be soothing. But the key thing is having that access.

When I was going through a really devastating and depressing year I listened to these songs over and over. Medicine for my soul indeed!

One of the problems is that not everyone has access to music.

The residents in elder care depend on family, friends and recreation directors to bring music into their lives. Without them, the lives of many elderly in eldercare facilities wouldn’t have the music they love. And it’s important to have the music they love, not only for their emotional wellbeing, but also for mental stimulation that good memories bring.

Research in music therapy helps professionals who work with aging persons know what a difference music in their lives makes. I think it would be wonderful if each nursing home had a music therapist either on staff or hired to work with the recreational activity director.

How about in our schools? How about in conjunction with children who have anxiety? Or how about just to break the ice so all of the kids feel more connected to each other. I hope the trend for more and more research and more music therapists in each town and city continues. And it is, read this article to see it from one music therapists perspective as she sees her profession become more understood and recognized: And What Exactly is That Anyway?


Would you like to learn more about music therapy?

Here are some links for you to explore if you would like to know more about what music therapy is, what is does and the research that is ongoing with music therapy:

About music therapy:

Music therapy in hospitals:

Music therapy in schools:

Music therapy in eldercare:

Now it’s your turn, help spread the word about music therapy and its benefits!

You can read this very personal post from Janet, founder of Bear Paw Creek, about the therapy her daughter received while fighting cancer:

Fighting cancer and music therapy

Comment below and tell us what songs lift you or soothe you. Do you have a favorite song or style? I bet you can still a song you learned when you were little… ahh the power of music.

Afte that, would you please share this post and others like it, so that we can start to get the word out and help people understand what music therapy is and what it’s potential is for future therapy? Thank you! 


Jenette is a freelance writer of web content, blogs, and podcast show notes. She is also a wife and imperfect mother, whose family mean the world to her. She has a high respect for business owners and entrepreneurs of all kinds. She enjoys helping them tell their story, connecting them to customers online.

You can find Jenette’s business website at



Movement Prop & Musical Instrument Organization

Organizing for traveling music therapists, educators, caregivers, and professionals



As a traveling professional, organizing on the go is a must. Your vehicle serves as your office, lunch room, and closet all at the same time.

In part 2 of this organization series, we explore the intricacies of being a traveling professional who travels from site to site.

You can read part 1 here.



Practical considerations for traveling professionals:

  • Utilize a large tote bag for your various materials and for your larger instruments like hand drums, paddle drums, sound shape drums, tambourines, and all of the accessories (BONUS TIP: I recommend contacting a vendor who sells Thirty-One bags and accessories – they have a nice selection of sturdy bags of all sizes that may hold your materials, instruments, and movement props very well)
  • Organize your smaller materials, like small rhythm instruments, streamers, and scarves, in totes and bags — doing this makes it super simple to grab what you need right in the middle of a session or class
  • Use a rolling cart, rolling luggage, or even a wagon (more on this in a bit!)
  • Find and use a good quality gig bag for your guitar and invest in a Guitten
  • Use a BoomTote to keep all of your Boomwhackers together instead of letting them roll all over the car trunk

Getting from Point A to Point B: 

Transporting all.the.things from place to place can be a tricky job! 

Rolling carts are always a plus — two traveling music therapists share their favorite traveling accessories below: 

Just Keep Rollin’
Jody Tucker of Access Music Therapy, LLC in Duluth, MN, shares her favorite rolling bag, her visuals, and other cool materials she can keep in her HUGE travel bag…pssst, think ocean drum!

Bumping Up And Down in an EasyGoWagon
Linda of RhythmWORKS Music Therapy, LLC in Chicago, IL, shares her favorite music wagon – and it’s easily foldable and carries a ton of equipment. Check out her post!

Additional things to help you along your way:

  1. Phone and phone charger
  2. Podcasts (for when you are stuck in traffic or have a longer commute between sites)
  3. Mileage log or app
  4. Voice memo app (for when you think of a great idea, you can quickly record it for future use)
  5. Hand sanitizer
  6. A good ice scraper/snow brush or sunshade for your vehicle
  7. Umbrella

Katey of On a Good Note has written an entire Traveling Music Therapist blog series on apps, podcasts, and tips just for traveling music therapists. Check it out!

Take care of your vehicle:

Carve out time to take care of your car. Get regular oil changes and car washes, vacuum all of the seats and trunk, and throw away all the coffee cups.

Also, take some time to organize all of your materials. This is the most important step. As I wrote in Part 1 of this series, having an organized space certainly makes your life as a therapist, educator, or professional much easier.

Be flexible as a traveling professional:

Amy Buser, music therapist and owner of Wholesome Harmonies, LLC, in Miami, FL, shares about the one day she forgot all of her materials for her music therapy sessions. She relied on her music therapy training, as well as her spontaneous creativity to get through the day. 

And finally, a little humor to lighten your way:



Do you have a great organizing tip or resource for those professionals who travel frequently? Please share in the comments below.

Written by: Julie Palmieri, MM, MT-BC is the owner of Serenade Designs, which specializes in helping music therapists create, enhance, and rock their online presence. She is a board-certified music therapist, wife, and Momma to 2 beautiful girls. Visit her website and follow her on social media:


January is #mtadvocacy (music therapy advocacy) month

Are you a connector,  reflector, or director?  The following article written by Dena Register, PhD, MT-BC explains what that means.  While I am not a music therapist by trade, I love the profession and am humbled to consider myself/Bear Paw Creek to be a connector.  From our movement props that facilitate connecting with others from all age ranges and walks of life, to connecting with our customers through social media and events – I love it!

I am going to give away one of our Music Therapy Makes a Difference tote bags to one lucky music therapist.  I wish I could give one to every mt out there!

Music Therapy Makes a Difference Tote Bag

Click to enter!


Social Media Advocacy Month 2016

Dena Register, PhD, MT-BC  Certification Board for Music Therapists Regulatory Affairs Advisor

Each New Year brings the opportunity to reflect on all that we have accomplished and to determine what is needed in the coming year to move forward. As the Regulatory Affairs (CBMT) and Government Relations (AMTA) teams reflect on the first 10 years of the State Recognition Operational Plan, we are grateful for the number of individuals that have actively engaged in the advocacy process. We have had the incredible fortune to watch groups of diverse individuals pull together, capitalize on their strengths, and create access to services for clients and families that benefit greatly from music therapy.

One of the observations we reflect on regularly is what makes an advocacy team successful. The teams that stand out are those that have 3 different kinds of participants: Connectors, Reflectors and Directors. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, this seems to be a “triple threat” of action-oriented personalities that are able to work in tandem and move a group forward.

Building Bridges

“Connectors” are people who are gifted at building bridges by bringing others together and recognizing complimentary skill sets in those that they know. Connectors enjoy creating opportunities for people from diverse background and experiences to meet and interact. The role of the Connector in advocacy is to maximize the human resources available to them and to increase the network for their cause by helping interested parties get to know one another and discuss common interests. It is often the Connectors who are able to establish relationships with legislators or other decision makers that develops them into incredible advocates.

Holding Up the Mirror

“Reflectors” are gifted at taking in information, experiences, and perceptions and—as the name implies—reflecting back the most salient points to those around them. Reflectors often have a knack for diffusing situations by indicating an understanding and empathy for someone else’s position. Reflectors also make great advocates because of their fierce loyalty to their cause. Their ability to see issues from multiple perspectives and then to communicate that to multiple audiences brings all sides of an issue to the foreground for discussion. Reflectors unite various individuals and guide the group to a vision that recognizes the complexity of all issues.

Consulting the Compass

“Directors” are the ones who are able to see the big picture of possibilities that exist beyond the current situation. They are able to assimilate the work of the “Reflectors” and the “Connectors” and navigate a course of next steps based on that information. Directors also gather additional relevant information as they move forward and constantly attend to what course corrections are necessary to get to their end goal. Those who are most successful in this role demonstrate flexibility in their thinking and actions, which allows them to accommodate to various situations that are presented and that often change without prior notice. Directors take a broad view of an issue, projecting out beyond it’s current status or challenge and using an ideal vision or end goal to guide the day-to-day steps necessary to get there.

So how about you? Are you a Connector, Reflector, or Director? Or maybe there is another description you would use? We would like to hear from you about other characteristics or personalities that you find “key” in advocacy.

SM Advocacy Badge 2012_400x400

American Music Therapy Association Conference


The American Music Therapy Association Conference is in our backyard this year and I sure wish I was attending in person. I am looking forward to meeting many of those that will be there – someday.  The other part that makes this more personal, is that the location is a place I have looked at on all our treks to Children’s Mercy Hospital for our daughter’s cancer treatments.

I am so excited about the opportunities Bear Paw Creek will be part of at the conference this year. So if you’re going, I hope you’ll find us there in the following ways.

Take-A-Chance Ticket Prize Donation

We donated three “Music Therapy Makes a Difference” bags of movement props/cd to the following: “AMTA will be offering its conference attendees an opportunity to “win” a prize through “Take-A-Chance” tickets bidding.  Participants will be able to purchase “chances” to win one of our big ticket items that will be prominently displayed during our Opening Session event.  All proceeds from the “Take-A-Chance” ticket bids will go to support AMTA’s mission of public education and awareness.”

#AMTA15 Donation


We are supporting the Cadenza 5K to raise awareness for music therapy and support for student scholarships.  This happens on Saturday, November 14 at 8 p.m. and I can’t wait to see pictures from this fun event. 

Michelle Ss

Innovations in Music Therapy Interventions – Strategies
for Adapting Music

I sent Michelle four connect-a-bands and hub to play with and I’m looking forward to see the creative way she incorporates it.  Here is the information on that.

Room: Chicago C
Presenter(s): Laurie Farnan, MMT, WMTR, MT‑BC; Michelle Schumacher,
This presentation will explore innovative strategies for adapting
popular and classical music to meet client goals. Methods and
strategies of pre-listening will be explored to identify and find
repeated sections of melody, rhythm or lyrics. Selected instruments
will be suggested for optimal interaction and active participation
to meet client goals.


Not quite sure where they will pop up, but Brianna over at The MT Marketplace and her Tribe sure have some fun goings on happening, and we sent connect-a-bands and a hub over for them to play with.  Will add more as the information comes out.

West Music

Since 2002 our products have been exhibited by West Music at all the national conferences, and some regional conferences as well.  I hope you’ll stop by and enjoy seeing them, and while your at it, tell them you appreciate them carrying our USA manufactured products!

Fighting cancer and music therapy

Fighting Cancer with Music Therapy

On Dec. 3, I took our five year old daughter to the doctor as she just hadn’t been feeling well for a few weeks. Very pale and puny with occasional pains.  Within 15 minutes of being at the doctors, he sent us to the ER as her blood counts were very low.  Within the next three hours we were told she had a type of Leukemia and we were transported to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City.
By the following afternoon we had a diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL).  If you have to have leukemia – this is the one to have.They have a 90% cure rate.
Why do I tell you all of this?  Business may be a little different over the next few months as we fight cancer.  BUT the main reason is – during this process we have been connected with music therapist, Liesel Stephens MT-BC!
Some of you know – Bear Paw Creek was originally founded to create products for music therapists and I have a love for their profession, who they are, and what they do.

I never imagined we would be on the receiving end of it – but we are.  The first day she came was about 10 minutes into  a new chemo treatment our little one had to have before we were released from the hospital.  My husband and I were tense and nervous as the possible side effect sheet was down right scary.  In comes Ms. Liesel!  I know Piper enjoyed the time playing drums, reading books and singing – but it made a huge difference in us as parents as we could feel the tension release from us and the room.   Another fun part was that Liesel asked Piper is she had any favorite songs.  She said the “Wheels on the Bus” book we do at our circle time at home.  You guessed it – Liesel pulled the same book out!  It sounds a lot better with an accomplished guitar player and singer!

We will be making weekly trips to KC for the next months.  Our first clinic day and second – Liesel showed up.

It’s been an amazing experience to actually be on the receiving end of music therapy, and I am humbled by it.  I also get a kick out of seeing a traveling music therapist live in action. You guys truly ROCK!

Receiving music therapy with Liesel Stephens

Our first experience with music therapist Liesel Stephens.

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