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Letters


To whom it may concern,

Recently, while talking to friends, I heard that music therapy was on the endangered species list and felt the need to write in support of the Music Therapy Program.

My husband, Donald S. George, was Director of Bands at U. W. - Eau Claire for 27 years. Realizing things were changing for him (because of Alzheimers) he retired. He joined in on the volenteer work with the Music Therapy Program continuing the mission of the University on bringing his musical expertise to the community. When he needed to move into a nursing home due to this terrible disease he had alreay been volunteering at that nursing home where my sister, Eleanor, was residing because of Alzheimers. He would go from room to room with Lee Anna Rasar and students to take requests and sing for others. My husband was able to continue to play clarinet for the residents even when he was a resident and could no longer particiate in meaningful conversation. Once he could no longer play his clarinet music was still his world and had meaning and gave him pleasure. He continued to benefit from the Music Therapy Program which not only reached into his world but still offered a connection for him to the University. Lee Anna brought faculty from the Music Department with her to perform for him, Dorellen Haas, the mothers of Tom and Debbie King, and the other residents. Without the Music Therapy Program the University connecton would not have provided the artistic and aesthetic experience that those concerts did. When the Faculty Dixieland Jazz Band performed (a group that my husband started) he attended the concert with me and responded with so much meaning and pleasure.

Eleanor, my sister, became a resdent in August of l996 and was immediately drawn to the music that was offered which helped a great deal with her adjustment to a different way of life, She was very unresponcive, however, she continued to sing knowing the words to hymns while she was unable to converse with anyone or feed herself. She attended a conert in the community with the University orchestra conductor playing violin and the Faculy Dixieland Jazz Band playing. It was a music therapy concert attended by epople in the community with special needs that offered first rate music to them.

While you cannot put a price tag on the value of the Music Therapy Program I believe that it fills a void in the community by educating others that music can be used to reach people in a way that nothing else can. Music is the drug of choice and has no negative side effects if it is good music.

Edith F. George




October 9, 2007

To Whom It May Concern,

As a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumnus, taxpayer and parent I fully endorse the UWEC music therapy program. I want to share with you the relevance of this program.

A liberal arts education is a great value and I treasure my UWEC education in the expressive arts. As an alumnus, I can't think of a greater value or a more satisfying use of a liberal arts education than music therapists using the expressive art of music to bring about concrete improvements in the lives of people who are disadvantaged mentally, intellectually or physically.

I once thought that the chances of me or a member of my family being disadvantaged in such a way was impossible. When our daughter was diagnosed with a cognitive disability my husband and I found that circumstances and needs can change in an instant.

My husband and I feel that music therapy was the defining approach in helping our daughter improve motor and communication skills, develop a positive self image and deal with personal issues; all this while nurturing her love of music and developing her musical skills. Let me tell you about some of the help our daughter has received through the UWEC Music Therapy Program. She always had a passion for singing so she pursued being in the high school choir, using music therapy to help her keep up with the workload. Being a member of the choir wasn't only about singing. It was also about learning to read music; developing personal relationships; acting appropriately in a regular education setting and a concert setting; following directions; doing choreography; practicing time management skills; accepting praise for a job well done and constructive criticism when improvements were warranted. The list goes on.

Special education is designed to prepare the student for life after high school. Our daughter's special education teacher wanted to eliminate music from her education. "What will she do with music?" he asked. After high school she sang the National Anthem to open a game at the World Series of the Continental Amateur Baseball Association. "It would be nice if her teacher could see her now," said my husband after hearing her sing at that event. She went on to work at a job for eight years where she interacted with customers and co-workers and rode the public bus to and from work. Currently she lives in her own apartment; volunteers at a nursing home; attends church regularly; works out at the YMCA; competes in Special Olympics; sings in the Very Special Arts Choir; plays her keyboard for her own personal enjoyment as well as in concert settings; plays an electronc drum system, listens to CD's and buys her own CD's and music books.

Our daughter deserves a lot of credit for evolving into the woman she is today. The UWEC Music Therapy Program deserves a lot of credit for having helped her develop the skills she used and continues using to be the woman she is.

The UW System has a topnotch Music Therapy Program. Over the past eighteen years Lee Anna Rasar has demonstrated her ability to propel the UWEC Music Therapy Program forward. The program has attracted national and international acclaim, while at the same time being cost effective with only one person, Professor Lee Anna Rasar, running it. She and her students improve the lives of people in the community by providing services to 1000 people weekly, not to mention the thousands of people who have been and will be helped by music therapy graduates.

As an alumnus and a taxpayer I understand the need to make budget cuts. It makes no sense to me to cut a program in which each graduate has a job waiting; the lives of people by the hundreds and even thousands are so clearly improved; it is held in high esteem by practicing music therapists, professional music therapy organizations and potential employers; the students have passion for what they are learning and what they are doing; the strategic plan for the university is supported and demonstrated; and the prestige of UWEC rises as the word spreads about the consummate music therapy major it offers.

Let us all recognize the treasure we have in the Music Therapy Program. Please do not bury this treasure. Buried treasure helps no one! Bring it out in the open and share it.

Sincerely,

Joyce Crowell
UWEC Alumnus
Parent




Considering the huge increases in autism and related disorders and new information on the + attributes of music therapy and growing interest, what logic dictates that the program be reduced? Is the University also planning cuts in technology? Maybe to increase funding for buggy whip design? These therapies are something that need to be increased, not reduced. Open your eyes, ask questions and then listen to the answers, don't just listen for what you want to hear.

paul boyer
father of two asd kids using MT with great results.




Our son is 7 years old. He is a wonderful blessing to us and so is the music therapy program at Macphail. He is a boy with down syndrome and a condition called Apraxia. His degree of Apraxia is quite severe.

Up until he turned 6 yrs. old, we have had him involved with speech therapy through school and private therapy. Last year we became aware of Macphail and the music therapy program. We are so grateful to have found Macphail and Melissa who works with him in Music therapy. Melissa is just wonderful with him and she established a fun loving relationship with him in a matter of a couple visits. To see Melissa work with our son is a fun, exhilarating and tiring experience for all. In watching Melissa with him , you'd wonder if she really cared if she was paid doing her therapy sessions. I'm not sure who has the most fun, our son or Melissa.

Since our son's beginning days in music therapy, he has become more and more vocal. He tries to make many different word sounds which he never even tried in the past. Melissa will involve him with the many different musical instruments and he is very willing to try them all. He continues to progress with the trumpet which is terrific in strengthing his jaw muscles and tongue control. We also incorporate this horn blowing at our home with a mouthpiece. His love of music is a major component in has daily living environment. We will usually play music in the car, and he tunes right in and try to make the sounds of the words. This therapy is a tremendous vehicle in helping to develop our son's speaking abilities. We now see progress and have hope that he can continue to develop his communication skills. I strongly encourage anyone to pursue music therapy as the success is tremendously rewarding and I support any university that produces such skilled clinicians.

Sincerely,
Keith & Shelly K.




My nephew is an easy going kid, who loves to read, write, and sing. He really enjoys being around his peers however; he does experience communication break down, low attention span, low muscle tone, difficulties with fine and large motor movements, and has trouble modulating his sensory needs due to his Autism. He may at times not understand something that was communicated to him either verbally or non-verbally because of receptive communication processing issues. When this occurs he tends to have meltdowns and cry. Sometimes, his environment maybe too loud or too busy for him to handle thus he may become overwhelmed and easily distracted. He uses self seeking stimulus to calm himself by finger flapping and eye crossing. He his low muscle tone this makes it difficult for him to grasp and maneuver small objects for example using writing tensile, buttoning his shirts, and zipping his pants.

To help address my nephew specific needs, I have chosen to have my nephew receive, Speech Therapy and Social Links Therapy at Pediatric Autism Communication Institute. I have also chosen for him to receive Music Therapy at MacPhail. Since he has been receiving Music Therapy, my nephew has improved in the following areas: dressing himself and tolerating loud noises. Before music therapy, he could not button his shirt or zip his own pants. He would throw himself on the floor to feel the impact in his knees as a way of seeking pressure. He would also shut down when he would hear loud noises and cover his ears.

It still takes him longer to get dress compared to his peers however; he is growing more independent everyday. He also seeks more appropriate way to address in sensory needs. He has become more tolerant of noises especially while in school and his self confidence while interacting with his peers has grown. Playing instruments along with the therapy has helped him seek more appropriate ways to address his self seeking needs. It has also helped improve his fine and large motor skills, as well as his attention span. I am very grateful to MacPhail for providing an opportunity for my nephew and other kids like him a way to explore a love for music but most importantly build his functional skills that he can carry with him for the rest of his life. I am a huge supporter of music therapy and would recommend it to anyone that has a child with autism.

Thank you,
Paris G.




Please continue the Music Therapy program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Music Therapy is becoming such a big part of my son's chances for learning. Through the use of music I feel he will grow physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially. Music is such a instrument of joy for him , I am confident that it will improve his quality of life. Please continue this growing program so that people that learn differently have a chance.

Karen Sinz
Ph: (715) 232-2478




To the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire,

We are an Arizona family living with a child who is recovering from autism. My son received his diagnosis when he was two years of age. He is now six and one half.

At two, I was not able to communicate with my son. We used all of the traditional ways to try to reach him.  (Picture exchange boards, ABA, etc.)  We were quite aggressive and assertive with healing his gut through diet and reaching him through as much therapy as he would tolerate.  Nothing seemed to work.  Progress was slight. BUT when I started  to sing to him there was recogniton.  And we ran with it.  We saw Kathleen Walsh through Music Accents and paid extra to have a second M.T. Rich Maston help redirect my son during the session.  We video taped the initial session to have a beginning point and record progress.  I asked for a copy to help me use the same songs, RDI approach and help him see himself being redirected.  We saw amazing progress.  We videotaped all of our sessions and I used Music Therapy as my tool to help guide us through the week until our next appointment.   We were approved for Music Therapy twice a week after our Support Co-Ordinator came out and saw for herself the acute change in him using Music Therapy. Amanda Johnson then came on board, a former graduate of your M.T. program.  Utilizing her Music skills and aware of the sensory aspects of autism, she also continued to reach him through M.T. Amanda continues to see my son twice a week for M.T.  He is now in a regular First Grade and functions as a normal child.  He has quite the social circle of "normal" friends. He is the only child who tested as gifted in his entire grade. The Drs call him a miracle but our son is a testimony to the therapy of Music, early intervention and diet change.  

With the rise of Autism with one in every 150 child diagnosed, I am saddened to hear that you are considering taking your M.T. program away.  Please reconsider your proposal.  It is a grave mistake.  I am not musically inclined at all.  (Maybe it was my offbeat vocal chords that initially cracked that hole in my son's wall of autism.)  But Amanda with the skills taught through your program helped us take those blocks down and there is a wall no more. 

Sincerely,

Yvana Staen

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