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Stine Iindahl Jacobsen

A/Prof. Stine Lindahl Jacobsen

International keynote:
Music Therapy with Families: Diversity & Adaption

The field of music therapy with families is fast developing including therapeutic approach, research, training and populations. There is much diversity both across and within layers highlighting how music therapists adapt to different settings, needs, challenges and aims when working with families. Building from a presentation of diversity, focus will move towards adaption as a main theme when working with families. Music therapy approaches need to connect and adapt to current social and societal needs and challenges maybe even especially when working with families. The concept of adaption is active in how the therapist consciously intervenes and adapts to each individual family and in how family members can strengthen communication, mutual attunement and attachment. Likewise, when new therapeutic approaches and aims develop, training, research designs, and outcome measures have to follow and adapt. The valuable and challenging dance between research, training and therapy is presented and discussed including a short presentation of “Assessment of Parent-Child Interaction” (APCI) recently developed. APCI is an observation-based music therapy measure investigating parent-child communication and attachment using structured and unstructured improvisations and is carried out in close collaboration with the parents.

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“This will be my first visit to Australia and I am thrilled at the opportunity to share and exchange knowledge with Australian music therapists! I have always felt connected to several Australian approaches and perspectives within music therapy and I feel honored to be invited as an international guest to the national AMTA 2018 Conference.”

Stine Lindahl Jacobsen is Associate Professor and Head of Music Therapy at Aalborg University in Denmark. She currently hosts the International Music Therapy Assessment Consortium (IMTAC) and the research center Arts & Health in North Jutland, Denmark. Her main lecturing areas since 2008 include music therapy improvisation skills, group music therapy skills and music therapy assessment. Since 2011, she has held numerous conference presentations, lectures, workshops, and trainings mostly in Scandinavia, but also several times in Spain, Germany, UK, and Austria. She has published various articles and chapters in the area of working with children and families at risk and in the research area of standardized music therapy assessment tools and effect studies. As part of her PhD in 2012 Jacobsen developed the music therapy tool “Assessment of Parent-Child Interaction” (APCI). Currently she trains and certifies music therapists from around the world, who work or have an interest in working with families.

Dr. Valerie Looi

Dr. Valerie Looi

National Keynote:
Music Training for the Hearing Impaired - The bridge between Audiology & Music Therapy

Music training for the hearing impaired may sound like an oxymoron, but to quote the iconic Simon & Garfunkel song, it creates “A bridge over troubled waters”. For the hearing impaired, communication is usually their first priority. Devices such as hearing aids (HAs) and cochlear implants (CIs) aim to restore a person’s ability to hear auditory stimuli, and better communicate. After speech, many hearing impaired rate music as the next most important auditory stimuli in their lives. After all, music serves many roles, contributing to quality of life, socialisation and communication.

Adult CI recipients score significantly lower on music perception tests, and rate music to sound poorer than normally hearing (NH) listeners. They struggle to perceive pitch accurately, or identify well-known instruments or melodies, and report music to sound ‘tinny’, ‘unnatural’ and ‘unpleasant’. Some even deliberately avoid music. It has also been shown that although CI users perform more poorly than HA users with significant levels of hearing loss at some music tasks, HA users do not perform equivalently to NH listeners, and in some cases score similarly to CI recipients. HA users also report music to sound unpleasant, unnatural, not how they remember, and/or distorted. These findings suggest that a significant hearing loss, along with the devices used to help remediate the impairment impacts on music perception, regardless of whether a HA and/or CI is used.

The first part of this presentation, ‘HEAR we are’ will start by giving a short overview of hearing loss, HAs and CIs, followed by presenting an overview of music perception research involving CI recipients – both in comparison to NH listeners, as well as HA users. What elements of music do they hear well? What elements do they struggle with? Why is this the case?

The findings of these studies are important for the second part of the presentation, ‘HEAR we go…building that bridge”. Despite researchers and CI/HA companies having spent a lot of time, effort and money on trying to develop new signal processing strategies, updated technology, or even new devices to improve music perception, there has been little clinically significant improvement, with accurate and enjoyable music perception remaining elusive to many hearing impaired adults. Time with a CI or HA does not improve music perception, nor does the brand of the device matter.

So what can be done?

Recent research has shown that music listening practice and training does improve music perception and appreciation, despite the limitations of the devices and the physiological considerations related to hearing loss. Some of these research studies and their outcomes will be presented. Additionally, considerations for clinicians involved in developing and/or implementing such sessions or training programs will be covered.

The chameleon of both music therapy and audiology means our independent yet overlapping, unique yet diverse, skill sets and scope of practice enables us to bring a new dimension to rehabilitation for the hearing impaired, beyond technology and engineering. This presentation aims to demonstrate how we can build a bridge between professions, as well as between hearing impairment and enjoyable music listening experiences.

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"I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the profession I started in and the professionals I started with, and to see the phenomenal progress music therapy has made in Australia from being an emerging profession when I first registered, to now being a well-respected one built on research evidence and clinical expertise. I also look forward to the opportunity to show that the benefit and value of music therapy extends to other professions and can be successfully integrated into a range of other clinical and research fields."

Valerie completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Music Therapy, and a Masters in Clinical Audiology at the University of QLD followed by a PhD in Audiology from the University of Melbourne. Her PhD combined the professions of audiology with music therapy, investigating the music perception of cochlear implant recipients, compared to hearing aid users. She is a clinically certified member of the Audiological Society of Australia, and has previously held positions as a Senior Lecturer in Audiology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and the Senior Research Manager for the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre. She is currently the Asia Pacific Research Manager for Advanced Bionics. Her research has focused on the music perception and appreciation of cochlear implant recipients, developing music training programs to improve their music appreciation levels, as well as quality of life issues, clinical outcomes, and tonal language perception for cochlear implant recipients. As a music therapist she has previously worked for Education Queensland as their first music therapist in QLD, as well as at various other special schools in Brisbane, and with private clients.

With over 35 peer-reviewed publications in international audiology journals, she is recognised as one of the pioneers and international expert in the area of music perception for cochlear implant recipients, and has presented extensively at many international conferences. She has edited for several journal editions, successfully obtained numerous competitive research grants, and has supervised 35 Masters or PhD audiology students to completion. She currently also holds affiliate positions with Macquarie University here in Sydney, as well as the National University of Singapore.

Iani Sujono & Rob Devlin

Iani Sujono & Rob Devlin

Local Spotlight:
Diversifying and adapting music therapy services – can you stay sane in a rapidly changing clinical and business environment?

It’s no secret that we live in a rapidly changing world and this is certainly true of the life of a music therapist. Whether you work in private practice, are employed by an organisation or work as a contract RMT, the only real constant in our lives is change. Technology, legislation, workplaces, client and other stakeholder expectations are all rapidly evolving.

While the pace of change has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, all indications are that this will only increase in the years ahead. So, faced with even more change, how do we as clinicians and business people, stay sane and focussed on delivering quality music therapy outcomes for our clients? Research in the UK has shown that currently one third of people working in organisations have some form of anxiety or mental health issue about the degree and the rate of change, which indicates we aren’t dealing very well with this pressing concern. The need for adaptability has never been greater.

Adaptability is the ability to adjust your approach or actions in response to changes in your external environment. Strategic adaptability is the ability to plan for, cope with and hopefully thrive when faced with the unexpected – a much more challenging task. In a nutshell, we need to respond to change not on impulse, but on strategy. The ability of music therapists, in all contexts, to adapt well to their changing environments will be a key determinant of their future survival.

We have drawn on an excellent business publication and adapted it (there’s that word again) with our own “coal face” clinical experience over many years, to provide some insights and reflections on how to not only stay sane, but also how to stay ahead of the curve in this rapidly changing clinical and business environment.

Our presentation will outline key characteristics of what it means to be adaptable and how these factors interplay in the day-to-day life of a busy music therapy clinic. We give examples of how we have adapted our practice (and our practise) to grow very quickly to servicing 130 individual clients, including how we have navigated the challenging NDIS waters.

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"We are very honoured to have been invited as spotlight speakers for this year’s National AMTA conference. As music therapists in our own private clinic, one can get easily absorbed working in the business. The AMTA conference provides an excellent opportunity to refresh, connect and exchange knowledge with our colleagues nationally. In business as in life, the only constant is change – we look forward to sharing our experiences on adapting as music therapists in a rapidly changing world."

Iani Sujono

Iani is a Senior Registered Music Therapist with over 19 years’ experience and she is a Director of Sound Expression. Iani has worked with early childhood intervention programs, community disability groups, special needs schools, aged care facilities as well as in private practice. Her passion lies in working with children with special needs including children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, especially in developing their relational and engagement skills.

Iani founded Sound Expression in 2000. In 2001 she was invited by Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia to join their team. Iani was an integral part of this not-for-profit organisation for over 13 years – she initially joined as a clinician and soon became the Operations Manager of a team of 12 music therapists servicing around 500 clients on a weekly basis.

Iani then re-established her Sound Expression business in late 2015 and expanded her service from purely delivering music therapy, to delivering music lessons and various projects including their “Connecting Abilities Through Music” community music project. Since 2015, Sound Expression has grown into a clinic with 3 workrooms, 6 Registered Music Therapists and an office administrator servicing over 120 clients through private, HCWA and NDIS funding systems.

Iani’s clinical work has included providing music therapy at Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia, ASPECT, Barnardos, KU Children’s Services, Catherine Sullivan Centre, Glenmore Park Public School, Surveyors Creek Public School and working with individual children referred by their parents, psychologists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists.

Rob Devlin

Rob is a Senior Registered Music Therapist with over 10 years’ experience and he is a Director of Sound Expression. Rob has worked with community disability groups, special needs schools, support units within mainstream schools, aged care facilities as well as in private practice. He was previously Senior Music Therapist and Head of Business Development for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Australia, overseeing it grow to servicing over 700 clients per week. He completed his Master in Creative Music Therapy through Western Sydney University.

Rob has extensive experience as a music therapist with many clinical populations, including children and adults with a wide range of disabilities, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ‘at risk’ children with behavioural and emotional disorders, mental health diagnoses, and rehabilitation work with clients who have had strokes, acquired brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. He also has extensive experience providing music therapy in aged care settings including clients with dementia.

His role at Sound Expression is a dual one – Rob divides his time between clinical work across a range of client populations and he also heads up the new business development initiatives for Sound Expression.

Before coming to music therapy, Rob had many years’ experience in the corporate world in various senior sales and marketing roles. He happily left that world behind to focus on his passion, which is using music to help others live a more fulfilled and rewarding life.