Virtual Library: Growing and Groovin’ Together: 2024 MTAO Conference

Event Date:

March 15, 2024

Event Time:

5:00 pm

Event Location:

  • The Music Therapy Association of Ontario invites you engage with the content from our 2024 annual conference: Growing & Groovin’ Together which took place virtually and in person in Oakville Ontario on Saturday, February 24th, 2024.
  • All those who registered for the event already will automatically receive access to the Library, however, if you missed the event on Feb 24th and still wish to learn, grow, and groove with us, this registration will grant you access to the virtual Library until May 31st 2024. Please note you will not receive your video link immediately, you will gain access within one week of registering. If you do not, please contact

Content for this conference occurred both live in person, and live on zoom. Below you will find presentation descriptions and information about the speakers, along with notes on how the content was presented.  Please note that the AGM and the final presentation, Growing & Groovin’ through the years: MTAO panel discussion, were not recorded. If you have questions about materials for the AGM please contact To ask questions or receive any information about the panel experience, please connect with or fill out this form.

Other Info:

Bursaries to attend the 2024 CAMT Conference happening May 25th & 26th online are now open. Please submit your application using this form prior to Friday March 15th 2024 at 5:00pm. Recipients will be notified the week of March 18th-22nd 2024.

Keep your eyes peeled to our newsletter for reminders about the bursaries as well as save the dates for the 2024 Student, Intern, and Supervisors conference happening late October 2024 at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Presentation Descriptions & Speaker Bios

Explorations into Groove-Based Music Therapy
Len McCarthy, PhD, MMT, MTA, CB-MT, MMus, BEd, BMus
Opening Keynote: Presented Live in person and streamed live to zoom participants + Recorded.

This workshop is designed to be participatory, so bring your guitars, ukuleles, etc. and shake off the February blahs! Using 5-6 well-known popular songs as stepping stones, you will learn to create and develop instrumental and vocal groove techniques that produce the characteristic nuances, moods and expression found in most of your clients’ favoured popular music genres, e.g., Rock, Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Latin, R&B, Folk, Country, and Hip-Hop. You will also explore how to transfer these techniques to suitable melodic/vocal, keyboard and percussion approaches, and to use them as the basis for improvisation and songwriting. The workshop will be videorecorded, which will allow you to review everything later. A PDF of the PowerPoints displayed will also be available, so during the workshop you can concentrate upon joining in and learning with your hands, voices and bodies.

Len instructs “Groove-Based Ukulele for Music Therapists” – a 30 credit online CBMT course available through Amy Clements-Cortes’ Notes By Amy (see for details). Email for a 10% discount promo code for the course.  He also offers ukulele, guitar and keyboard workshops and free community jam sessions at, as well as a YouTube channel (Music At Green Gables) with over 300 Play Along Ukulele videos, with 160,000 views.

Bio: Len McCarthy, PhD, MMT, MTA, CB-MT, MMus, BEd, BMus is a music therapist, popular music performer, studio musician, arranger and songwriter who works with adults using a person-centered/strengths- based community music approach. He is a former University instructor, is currently teaching a MT-BC continuing education course, and is the co-director of Music At Green Gables with extensive musicology experience.

Implementing and Evaluating Intergenerational Music Therapy in Long-Term Care
Melissa Jessop, Kathy Lepp, Kate Dupuis
Concurrent Session Block #1: Live In Person + Recorded

The Intergenerational Jamboree is a music therapy intervention that was first developed by team members in a long-term care home in Guelph, Ontario in 2017. The Jamboree brings young children from the local community into long-term care to connect with residents through music, movement, and song. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have also successfully modified Jamboree for online program delivery via Zoom. Through music making and targeted therapeutic procedures, the Jamboree provides high-quality programming to residents, with observed benefits to their mood, communication, and social well-being during the intervention sessions, as well as residual benefits that last even after the session has ended. Formal evaluation of Jamboree has shown clear benefits not only for residents, but also for the children, their accompanying adults, and for the long-term care staff. In this session we will provide information about the purpose and benefits of the Jamboree, and share specific details and processes related to implementing and evaluating the Jamboree in your workplace.

Bio: Melissa Jessop is an Accredited Music Therapist and Registered Psychotherapist. Kathy Lepp is an Accredited Music Therapist with 20 years experience. Kate Dupuis is Schlegel Innovation Leader in Arts and Aging at Sheridan College.

Implementing a Standard of Practice for the Delivery of Music Psychotherapy Services
Ashley Kurkjian
Concurrent Session Block #1: Live on Zoom + Recorded

It’s no secret that Music Psychotherapists are often perceived as entertainment or as “the music lady/guy”. Despite our training and expertise, we are not held to a consistent standard in the same manner as other allied health professionals. Perhaps the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of our work could be rectified by a standard of practice, specific to the delivery of Music Psychotherapy services in Ontario. In recent research, a variety of definitions have been discovered in peer-reviewed papers for Kenneth Bruscia’s improvisational techniques. If we are facing these challenges in defining our own practices, how can we be certain that we are all providing consistent services throughout the province? In this workshop, we will discuss the variety of service delivery we have seen amongst our co-clinicians, as well as the benefits and potential clinical challenges in developing a standard of practice for the delivery of Music Psychotherapy services.

Bio: Ashley Kurkjian is a Music Therapist and Registered Psychotherapist with New Song Music Therapy. She holds her Master of Music Therapy from Wilfrid Laurier University and specializes in providing music psychotherapy in long-term care.

Clinical Vocal Techniques
Jessica E. Teich, MM, MT-BC, NMT-F
Concurrent Session Block #1: Presented Live in person, shared live on zoom + Recorded

Just like we reference the guitar, the piano, or even the metronome as functional clinical tools, so too is the voice. For vocalists, transitioning from a performer to a clinician can be eye opening, as in a clinical setting, many of the musical skills often accessed by a performer are used in a very different way with a tremendously different purpose. For non-vocalists, thinking of the voice as a functional tool rather than an intimidating instrument may make it a little less frightening. Furthermore, knowing how to use the voice effectively and confidently will improve your strength and versatility as a clinician. This workshop is meant to explore the clinical voice for singers and non-singers alike. It will provide fundamental knowledge of the physical voice and mechanisms for vocal production, create opportunities to discuss and understand the similarities and differences between voice usage in performance and voice usage in clinical practice, and address vocal overuse, abuse, and misuse, contributing factors to common vocal issues, and how to implement vocal hygiene and vocal health maintenance. Moreover, attendees will have the opportunity to practice using their clinical voices in a safe space among peers and members of the music therapy community. Attendees may prepare a piece of music (with or without accompaniment) that can be used in a clinical setting, to hone the skills taught in the workshop.

Bio: Jessi is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto studying music and Health Sciences. Her current research interests include the application of NMT regarding motor learning, sensory processing, and self-regulation in children with autism.

Reiki As A Practice for Mitigating Burnout Among Music Therapists
Daiva Zemaitis
Concurrent Session Block #2: Live, in person + Recorded

Do you often feel drained, tired, and burnt out as a result of being a music therapist? This workshop style presentation will teach you about what Reiki is, how the practice of Reiki can mitigate burnout in our profession, and leave you with a practice to implement right away. The beginning of this presentation will cover the history of the practice of Reiki, the science and spirituality behind the energetic practice, as well as short experiential. You will then learn how and why practicing or receiving Reiki can mitigate burnout in our profession, as well as, the potential for clinical applications in music therapy. The presentation will close with an experiential combining Reiki and a music intervention. You will be left with tangible tools you can begin to implement in your personal and professional life.

Bio: Daiva Zemaitis, MTA, MT supervisor, and Reiki practitioner of Harmonia Healing + Music guides music therapists in elevating their energy and confidence. Through teaching energetic tools and self reflection exercises, Daiva helps music therapists thrive in their professional and personal lives.

Exploration of Music-Based Experiences in the EMDR Therapy Sessions
Aksana Kavaliova-Moussi, RP, MTA, NMT
Concurrent Session Block #2: Live, In person + Recorded

Many music therapists work with trauma survivors. Music therapy as a profession formed from working with the veterans of WWI and WWII in the United States and Europe (Davis et al., 2008). EMDR therapy is one of the trauma approaches recommended by the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, to date not many music therapists can get trained in the EMDR approach: the training requires one to have a Master’s degree and, in many places, a mental health counselling/psychotherapy license or for music therapy to be a state-licensed profession (according to a few research participants and EMDRIA, 2023). In the US most music therapists have a bachelor’s degree which immediately excludes them from training (American Music Therapy Association, 2021). In Canada, many EMDR training places require one to have a mental health-specific education and registration with one of the professional colleges (e.g., social work, psychotherapy, psychology). Although not many training providers talk about music as an alternative stimulus, it is possible that dually trained music therapists with a vast knowledge of the benefits of music would use music-based interventions and experiences that go beyond listening to bilateral tones. This phenomenological research project was constructed to explore the experiences of EMDR-trained music therapists with the use of music in their sessions. Reference American Music Therapy Association (2021). Workforce analysis: A descriptive, statistical profile of the 2021 AMTA membership and music therapy community. Davis. E., Fitzgerald, J., Jacobs, S., & Marchand, J. (2023). EMDR and creative arts therapies. Routledge. EMDRIA-EMDR International Association (2023). Eligibility Requirements for EMDR Basic Training.

Bio: Aksana Kavaliova-Moussi, RP, MTA, MACP, MM, NMT, is a PhD student at Colorado State University. She works full time as a psychotherapist at the Family Counselling Centre Niagara, and has her psychotherapy and music therapy private practice.

Sounds of Progress: Music Psychotherapy and Registering with the CRPO
Kristen DiMarco
Concurrent Session Block #2, Live on Zoom + Recorded

Would you like more information about music psychotherapy and registering with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO)? Do you have questions about maintaining your RP credentials or other practice matters? Whether you are a student, intern, new or seasoned music therapist, join this presentation with the MTAO’s Government Regulation Chair to learn about the scope of psychotherapy, requirements to become a member and how to register with the CRPO. Recent updates to practice matters, including the new Cased Based Assessment for the CRPO Quality Assurance program, will be reviewed. This presentation will provide practical information drawn from personal and peer experiences along with information from the CRPO website.

Bio: Kristen DiMarco, RP, MTA, MA is a Certified Music Therapist and Registered Psychotherapist practicing in Toronto, Ontario. She has served as the Government Regulation Chair on the Music Therapy Association of Ontario board of directors since 2020. Kristen currently works as a music therapist at a paediatric and home visiting hospice where she supports children, families and adults navigating advanced illness and loss.

Vocal Intonation Therapy for Spastic Dysarthria Post-Stroke: A Neurological Music Therapy Technique
Steffi Friyia, MA, BMT, MTA, NMT
Concurrent Session Block #2: Live, on zoom + Recorded

This presentation will provide information on stroke, dysarthria, and specifically spastic dysarthria. The basics of Vocal Intonation Therapy (VIT) and Neurologic Music Therapy will also be covered. The presenter will use a case study to walk through the research, including the purpose of the study, methodologies used, hypothesis, and outcomes. The application of VIT in translational research as well as potential for future studies will also be examined further. There will also be a brief demonstration on some VIT exercises for clinical use.

Bio: Steffi is a recent MA graduate of the Music and Health Sciences program at the University of Toronto. She has been a certified music therapist for 10 years and has worked with a variety of client populations. She is grateful for the honour of working with so many clients over the years and looks forward to sharing some of the research she did during her year of study. She is currently leading the Toronto-Area Music Therapists and is the Vice-President of the MTAO Board of Directors.


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Event Schedule Details

  • March 15, 2024 5:00 pm   -   6:00 pm
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