Nevada Music Therapy Licensure Legislature – Part 3

legislature, nevada legislature for music therapyWelcome to my third blog on successful legislature advocacy, addressing events and marketing tips. The following is a brief overview excerpted from upcoming presentations for the Online Conference for Music Therapy, February 18, 06:15 GMT and the Western Region Conference in Salt Lake City, March 23, 5pm.


Public events are necessary to educate, honor and celebrate the multi-facets of music therapy. Three Nevada Legislature events were successful over four years, along with regular music therapy public events scheduled in southern and northern Nevada for ten plus years.  Our biggest challenge: Nevada employs less than one dozen music therapists with extreme distances of 450 miles between densely populated areas in northern and southern Nevada.

Therefore, additional music therapists were needed with strong advocacy skills. The first legislative events were scheduled in the Governor’s Mansion and the State Legislature Building featuring music therapists in Reno and Las Vegas, Oregon and Washington D.C., Remo employees from California, and local music therapy clients demonstrating the benefits of music therapy through performance and drum circles. These February 2007 events created the template for other states’ advocacy efforts. Sponsors and participants included:

  • Nevada Arts Council
  • Remo, Inc.
  • WRAMTA – Western Region Chapter, American Music Therapy Association
  • AMTA – American Music Therapy Association
  • Omni-Present Sound Research and Development, Inc.
  • Center for Creative Therapeutic Arts
  • The Note-Ables
  • Marvin Picollo School

The legislative events were very successful even though not well-attended due to last-minute conflicts and not being close to a dense population area.

  • Key legislators attended early who received 1:1 attention from music therapists to learn more about the profession who then provided essential advocacy support for future successful bills.
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas attended and finally listed a music therapy degree program on their strategic plan.
  • Key meetings occurred with the Department of Education and Health & Human Services which built relations for future legislative efforts.
  • Media coverage featured these events on the front page of the Capitol’s newspaper.
  • The most powerful Senator in Nevada sent an invitation during the event to present our funding request before the Senate Finance Committee scheduled within days of the event – which resulted in funding.

Testifying before the Senate is an event that can be successful using different approaches.

  • Spontaneous testimony and materials speaking from the heart.
  • Advance planning with music therapists and clients identified to speak on specific topics and/or perform.
  • Playing recorded music of a memorable performance which stimulated emotional response to pass a bill.

Local events serve to educate, honor and celebrate partnership achievements with heart-warming stories about music therapy’s effects.  These events can build partnerships, advocates, clientele and media relationships. If fund-raising is also the focus, then silent and live auctions, event tickets, raffles, etc. round out the successful event. An “event” can be a 1:1 on an airplane, a library educational seminar, a staff in-service, a concert, a fashion show, or a gourmet dinner. Your imagination is the limit to the possibilities!


Build relationships with media – radio, television, newspaper, magazine – for music therapy stories. This requires clients who are willing (comply with HIPPA law) to advocate for greater service access with written permissions telling heart-warming stories with photos and videos about music therapy’s effectiveness.

When marketing music therapy, avoid the appearance of trying to create new jobs. Focus on needs, problems and solutions. Here are some marketing tips when expanding your efforts beyond your current clients.

  • Focus on providing greater access to music therapy, protecting the public, ensuring music therapy providers are credentialed, and avoiding confusion about what music therapy is and is not.
  • Include statewide music therapy representation to attract statewide support, both urban and rural.
  • Create marketing materials with heart-warming statewide client interactions in pictures and brief stories.
  • Accumulate all population fact sheets from the American Music Therapy Association to share with VIPs who have specific interests.
  • Video example is optimally less than two minutes demonstrating before/after music therapy effects (not the actual intervention) with permission for use.
  • Use neutral contact information for a music therapy task force to avoid conflicts of interest (i.e. or your state music therapy association contact info).
  • Organize successful events showcasing music therapy and acknowledging supporters.
  • Register as an unpaid lobbyist to access legislative private office space and elevate the profile of music therapy.
  • Build positive media relations (i.e. invite a media personality to Emcee your event).
  • Print out the legislator directory with pictures and room to make notes for staff names, advocate assignments, etc., updating after each election. Don’t discard old directories as “retired” legislators may still be important advocates and your notes from previous interactions are important to reference.
  • Create a database of all legislators’ emails which needs updating after each election.
  • Send event invitations that include DVD invites or video emails to VIPs (i.e. legislators and their staff).

Listen to music therapist Patti Catalano’s interview with Judith on the Music 4 Life Radio Show podcast aired July 22, 2011 to learn more about the Washington State of Music Therapy. Patti is the Regional Project Manager for the American Music Therapy Association’s $400,000 Wilson Trust Puget Sound Music Therapy Project.

“Success is not the destination, it’s the journey.” — Unknown

Reference Judith’s January 5 blog post for the link to the advocacy personality quiz and read about the important collaborative efforts and support offered by AMTA and CBMT.


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