August 2017

Wow, July just flew by! Just like it is for many in Reno, July is one of our busiest months. I love the fun and excitement of all our events, and I love being busy. But a full schedule is often accompanied by stress – some of it real and some of it self-imposed. One of the things I tried to focus on during my time off was how I react to stress. Life is stressful, right? A recent study by the American Psychological Association revealed that we are more stressed than ever – between August 2016 and January 2017 Americans’ overall stress level increased for the first time in 10 years! Many of us are in a constant state of worry about our finances, relationships, health, future. You name it and we’re stressed about it. Some of that stress is absolutely justified. But some of our stress can be reduced simply by recognizing and changing how we deal with it. It’s too easy to accept that stress is just part of life…but it’s making us more and more unhealthy. Did you know that 77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms from stress, and 73% of us regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress? Those statistics (from this study by the American Institute of Stress) are really scary. Stress is making us physically and mentally sick! We can’t wave a magic wand and make our stress disappear, so it’s important for us to think about how we can change our own reactions and behaviors. I’ve done a few small things that are helping my overall stress level. I took my work email off my phone while I was gone and I haven’t put it back on…which has been great! I can still check my email if I need to, but I don’t get constant notifications and reminders of all the things I ‘should’ be doing. I’ve found a phone app that reminds me to take time out each day to meditate and decompress. And I’m trying to make it a priority to get out of the office and go for a walk each day. These little things really do add up! What sorts of things are you doing to help you deal with your stress? If you can’t think of at least three, now’s the time to find some things that work for you!


Manal Toppozada, Executive Director

PS – We have started a new support group for our NMTS participants! It is a safe and confidential place for participants to connect with others and discuss life challenges, with the support of one of our music therapists. The group meets twice a month – the next one is Friday, August 4th at 3:30pm. For more information, visit our programs page

NMTS Moments

We had another fantastic Teen Beat Summer Music Camp (TBSMC) this July! The 15 teens and young adults – many of whom were new to NMTS – had a blast making new friends, dancing, singing, playing instruments, and performing.  It is always powerful to witness participants coming to NMTS for the first time, and see how they quickly find a place of belonging here. There are limited opportunities for teens with disabilities to get out in the community and have fun, particularly during summer months. For many families who attend, TBSMC is the highlight of their year. And as always, this year’s final performance was playful, touching, inspiring, and so much FUN!

European Guided Imagery and Music

Music Therapy Perspectives

Last year, a pilot study found that Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) improved sleep, well-being, and social function for adult refugees with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the authors of the study, the findings indicate that trauma-focused modified GIM has potential as an effective treatment for refugees with PTSD. The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music is a music-centered, consciousness-expanding therapy developed by Helen Bonny. The method can facilitate a person’s integration of their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of well-being. During a GIM session, a trained guide accompanies the participant on a journey of the imagination. The journey is ‘guided’ by a specificallly-designed classical music sequence.  Manal recently completed the first level of GIM training, and we are looking forward to incorporating some of these techniques in our services in the future. For more information on GIM, please visit

Looking back and looking forward

As we are starting our new fiscal year, we have to much to celebrate and so much to look forward to. Here are some of the highlights of this past year and a sneak peek of what’s to come.

In 2016-17, we:

  • Served 1,240 people, up from 862 in 2015-16
  • Reached 17,206 people through outreach and performances
  • Hired another music therapist to expand music opportunities
  • Served people from 2 to 94 with diagnoses ranging from autism to dementia, opioid addiction, trauma, and learning disabilities

We have many new projects and collaborations on the way in the new year, including:

  • Lullaby Project – Collaboration between Step2, The Reno Philharmonic, and NMTS
  • New community choirs for seniors and the people who love them
  • Neurologic music therapy program

Learn more about what we’re up to and how, as a community, we are building a community where everyone has access to music and their voice can be heard. Visit to learn more about our new programs!

Introducing Maura!

Introducing Maura Hennessy, our newest music therapist. Some of you may have met Maura here and there over the past few months. She has been working part-time at NMTS since March and has joined our team full-time as of August 1st.

Maura is thrilled to be working with Note-Able Music Therapy Services. She graduated with a degree in music therapy and music education from Anna Maria College in Massachusetts in Spring of 2010. Maura has enjoyed working in the field within special education and mental health settings and is excited for the opportunity to expand this work in the Reno area. Her passion for the outdoors includes hiking, skiing, rock climbing, running, and yoga. Maura is looking forward to getting to know everyone and participating in serving our community’s needs.

One Hit Summer was a Blast!

If you missed out on our annual Artown event, One Hit Summer, last week, let me give you a recap. Picture this: A calm summer evening on the lawn at McKinley Arts Center, delicious local food and drink, music wafting through the air…wait, hang on! It was way more exciting than that!

The NMTS dance classes started off the evening with an open invitation parade down the sidewalk – waving ribbon sticks and bubble wands and dancing to one hit wonders like “Funky Town.” Participants, volunteers, board members and audience members joined in. It was a perfect example of what NMTS tries to foster – the opportunity to get involved and experience the joy of music and dancing no matter your age or ability.

After the parade, NMTS participants performed classic one hit wonders like “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” and “I’m Too Sexy.” Conga lines and soul trains formed throughout the show led by participants and audience members, while local band Nothing Like a Dame played their super fun, original pop songs and The Note-Ables belted out classics like “Walking On Sunshine” and “Don’t You Forget About Me.” When kids who came with their folks weren’t dancing, they were squirting each other with water in the Splash Zone, having their faces painted or hula hooping and blowing bubbles at the Kids’ Tent. It was a good time had by all!

Thanks to all of you who came out and it made it a perfect summer evening where we could all feel part of the same community! And for those of you who couldn’t make it, we’ll see you next year!

Best of Facebook

We had so many great pictures of our High Notes Society breakfast, which happened at the end of June. This event is always so touching, because some of our families and participants have an opportunity to tell their stories about what music therapy has done for them. In addition to speakers and performances, we sang together as a group, and if you were there, you know how beautiful our collective rendition of “What a Wonderful World” was.  We were so glad to have so many loved members of our community join us, along with their friends, family, and colleagues.

If you are interested in attending one of our events to get to know us better (they’re fun and inspiring!), you are welcome to come to our monthly Basement Session lunches. Please contact Sarah Toney for more information or to RSVP.

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Upcoming Events

Basement Session – Monday, August 14th, 12pm (McKinley Arts and Culture Center) Would you like to get to know more about music therapy, adaptive music, and The Note-Ables? This lunch event is free to attend and is a small gathering, so there’s plenty of time to ask your questions. And The Note-Ables play! RSVP to Sarah Toney at

The Note-Ables play Bowers Mansion Bluegrass Festival – Saturday, August 19th, 12pm (Bowers Mansion, Washoe Valley) The Note-Ables are excited to be part of this wonderful festival again this year. It’s a wonderful day of music under the trees at Bowers, with crafts, great food, incredible music, and dancing. It’s a great way to spend a summer day! Tickets for this event are available online.

NMTS First Annual Dance Concert! – Saturday, August 19th, 3:00pm (McKinley Arts and Culture Center) Our dance classes are so excited to be putting on their first dance-only performance. The theme of the performance is Better When I’m Dancing, and it is a celebration of the joy of dance. Please join us! Tickets are $5 and are available at our office.

The Note-Ables play at TMCC Field Day – Thursday, August 31st, 11:00am (TMCC Dandini Campus, Outdoor Plaza) The Note-Ables will be playing at the first TMCC Field Day!  This free event will be a great way to kick off the semester. TMCC students, staff, faculty and administrators will have the opportunity to play games, win prizes, and enjoy some great music. Food will be provided for all game participants.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer needs will slow down a little this month as we head into the dog days of summer, but we do have one opportunity that will be new for all of us. NMTS is holding its first annual dance concert! Performers from our adaptive dance classes will glide across the stage at the McKinley Arts Center Auditorium on Saturday, August 19th, at 3:00 PM. Families, loved ones and anyone else in the community is invited to attend! We’ll be charging a $5 admission fee.

We will need about 5 – 6 volunteers to help set up chairs and pass out refreshments that day, along with any assistance our dance instructor may need. This commitment will be from 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact me by phone or email. We’d love your help. It’s going to be a great show!

Thank you,

Dena Sweigart, Administrative Assistant


July Thank Yous!

Thank you to our July donors! Lois and Dave Bianchi, Jaime Briscoe Collins, Dennis and Diana Doty, Cheryl Eckert, Mary Lee Fulkerson, Theresa Grant, Scott Harrington, Rick and Elsa Heroux, Kate Kirkpatrick, David Kladney, Tina Leighton, The Life Change Center, Marilyn Moon, Network for Good (Anonymous Facebook donations), Northern Nevada Center for Independent Living, and Mark Rapport

Thank you to our classroom and office volunteers!  Cheryl Eckert, Jewelene Fritts, Mark Geeson, Eric Gieseke, Chris Keenan, Ariel Miller, Tonia Meyers, Marilyn Moon, Lorelei Neft, Cindy Oesterle-Prescott, Gregory Raymond, Cheyenne Underwood, and Ken Vogel

Thank you to our Teen Beat Summer Music Camp volunteers! Jewelene Fritts, Eric Gieseke, Chris Keenan, Chloe Merlo-Keenan, Nicky Stevens, Stephon Van Dyke, Amina Wilson, Forrest Zeiter

Thank you to our One Hit Summer volunteers!  Barb Anderson, Sara Bolling, Daishawn Brown, Shawn Burke, Dennis and Diana Doty, Jewelene Fritts, Joy Gardner, Eric Geiseke, Theresa Grant, Elizabeth Lenz, Joe Macaluso,  Jeanette Martin, Megan Meaney, Ashley Melendez, Tonia Meyers, Danelle Moser, Nathan Myers, Brandon Pieire, Greg Raymond, Nicky Stevens, and Ken Vogel

As always, thank you to our Endowment Founding Circle! The Note-Able Music Therapy Services endowment fund is managed by the Community Foundation of Western Nevada. By contributing to the fund, you will guarantee that children and adults – no matter their age or ability – will always have a place where they can learn, grow, and experience a community that is connected through the love of music. Please call or email us for more information about how you can contribute to the legacy of NMTS.

Music Quote of the Month

Wish List

  • Art supplies – anything you’re not using, we’ll find a use for!
  • Greeting cards and thank you notes
  • iTunes gift cards
  • Disposable food service goods, such as paper plates, cutlery, cups and napkins
  • Postage stamps

Board of Directors

Kate Kirkpatrick – President
Director of Public Information, Marketing & Communications, Truckee Meadows Community College

Dave Stockman – Treasurer
President – Stillwater Foundation

Sandy Jacob – Secretary

Dennis Doty – Director
Physical Therapist – HCR ManorCare 

John Firestone – Director
Executive Director – The Life Change Center

Give the gift of music!

Your donations provide for our low cost and adjustable-rate fees for classes, workshops, music therapy and music lessons! Every dollar donated helps people of all abilities to continue to have access to music therapy and programs.

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