Title/Position: Lecturer, Music TherapyProfile:
Why did you choose music therapy as your career?
I chose music therapy as a career because it combined my love of psychology, biology, and music. I knew I had to be in a field that was dynamic and creative; one that allowed me to be a part of bringing about a positive change in other’s lives. Music therapy is a perfect combination of all those things.
I love that as a music therapist I am first and foremost a musician. In my work with young children with special needs I write all my own original songs to ensure my interventions are goal-oriented and developmentally appropriate. I also make it a priority to consistently strengthen my skills on guitar, piano, ukulele, voice, and clarinet and to learn as much as I can about improvisation and songwriting. All these things allow me to provide the best musical experience for my clients.
I love the flexibility a career in music therapy allows. A music therapist can work with veterans in a VA hospital or premature infants in a NICU or a teenager with autism. A music therapist can one day be assisting a client through guided imagery and music-assisted relaxation and the next be facilitating a drum circle.
I truly believe music therapy is the perfect career for me and I cannot imagine doing anything else with my life.
What would you say are the most outstanding highlights of your professional life, to date?
Having my master’s thesis Joint Attention Responses of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Simple Versus Complex Music published in the Journal of Music Therapy. The publication was the culmination of four years’ work and it is the accomplishment I am most proud of.
Building up the music therapy program at United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), where I worked for seven years. Building up strong practicum and internship programs to train music therapy students. Setting up opportunities for other professionals (occupational, speech, physical and ABA therapists) to co-treat with music therapy and provide an interdisciplinary approach to treatment. Creating a new full-time music therapy position in the adolescent and adult unit at UCP.
Creating an online 3-hour continuing education course Autism + Special Needs: The FUNdamentals.
Building my private practice, Wholesome Harmonies, LLC which serves children, adolescents, and adults with special needs in the Miami area. Providing group and individual music therapy, as well as adapted and traditional lessons on piano, guitar, and ukulele. Running the website and blog: http://www.WHmusictherapy.com to educate parents and professionals about music therapy.
Being hired as Visiting Faculty at the Frost School of Music, where I completed my bachelors and masters degrees.
Why should a potential student choose the Frost School of Music to study music therapy?
A potential student should choose the Frost School of Music to study music therapy because it provides an educational experience that you cannot find anywhere else. Students receive a solid training in Neurologic Music Therapy and learn scientific logic and research to support the techniques we use as music therapists. In addition, students take part in twice as many clinical practica as the national standards require. Finally, the musical training and preparation students receive at the Frost School is unparalleled and teaches students to use music in a flexible, creative and therapeutic manner with their clients.
Amy Kalas, MM, MT-BC is a board-certified music therapist and professional member of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). She is a visiting lecturer in the Music Therapy Program at the University of Miami Frost School of Music, where she earned her bachelors and masters degrees in music therapy. Amy completed her clinical internship at the Matheny Medical and Education Center in New Jersey. Following her internship, she was hired in 2006 as a full-time music therapist at United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Miami. At UCP, Amy worked with children birth-age 8 with special needs, and served as the clinical internship director and practicum supervisor. Amy also owns a private practice, Wholesome Harmonies, LLC, where she provides music therapy services to children and adolescents in the greater Miami area.