March 2017

Dear Friends,

Where are you going? What are you doing? Now that my sabbatical is rapidly approaching, I hear these questions on a daily basis. Yes, after 14 years I’m finally taking some ‘real’ time off! The process of planning this break has been very, very interesting. As soon as it became a reality (thanks to a very supportive board), I started asking myself those same questions. And I instantly became quite stressed trying to figure out where I was going and I what I should do. I got so much advice from people, and was even told that it would be irresponsible for me to relax because the ‘whole point of a sabbatical is to learn and produce something of value’. That’s not the best thing to tell someone who already finds it impossible to let go!

Between being a mom, running a nonprofit, teaching, playing music, and volunteering, the whole concept of ‘me’ time is pretty foreign. Not that I’m complaining – I am so fortunate to love my work and the people in my life. But now I have 12 weeks to do as much or as little as I want, and it’s quite daunting! I finally decided that it’s okay for me to not know exactly where I’m going or what I’m doing for the entire time. I do have some plans, and I think I’ve found a good balance between professional development and personal time. Sarah Toney will be taking the reigns as interim director when I’m gone, and I know she’ll do a great job. She, Dena, Jodi, and the whole team will be fine without me. And I know I’ll be fine on my own for a while. So for now I’m signing off, and I’m sure I’ll have lots of exciting things to share when I come back in June. Or not…and that’s okay too :).


Manal Toppozada
Founder and Executive Director


NMTS Moments with Jodi McLaren – Thomas’ Story 

During one of our recent music therapy groups with teens at The Eddy House, Jodi was engaging the participants in songwriting, which is a powerful way for people to express difficult emotions while experiencing the joy of expression.

Thomas (name changed for privacy) sat in the group playing music from his phone instead of participating. When Jodi asked him to do a free write, he just wrote “DONE” on a piece paper. In other words, Thomas was too cool for this whole music therapy thing. Slowly through the group, he started to open up and share the music he cares about.

The next week, Thomas recruited a friend to join the group. By the end of that session, they decided to write and record a song together. As Jodi left after the session ended, the two of them were still practicing on the sidewalk.

Recording Day

On the day of recording, Thomas greeted Jodi with a big smile and helped carry in the drums. Although his friend didn’t come that day, Thomas sang and recorded three songs with all his heart, expressing incredible emotion. After they finished, he told Jodi he had just been offered a job, but he’d be sure to request a schedule to accommodate music therapy groups.

As he left the house, he said, walking down the street, “This would make the perfect album cover!” and put his arms out in appreciation of the sunlight. Jodi snapped the photo, soaking in his feeling of accomplishment and hope for the future.

The Need

Thomas is one of many young adults at The Eddy House benefiting from the opportunity to be heard through music. We’re honored to work with the Eddy House to help these young adults find their own voice, creativity, and potential for greatness.

We will be raising funds to continue this program during the Nevada Big Give day coming up on March 23rd! Check out the Big Give site to join us in serving kids and young adults who need to experience their own greatness.

Thomas basking in the winter setting sun, imagining his album cover.

Music Therapy Perspectives – Music Alleviates Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance occurs when we receive information or experience something that goes against what you previously knew to be true. Our brain has the natural tendency to want to disregard any new information that doesn’t match our current view. Whether we are challenged with a math problem in school or a relationship that leaves us feeling uncomfortable, these experiences produce cognitive dissonance.

In Leonid Perlovsky’s article titled “Cognitive Function of Music and Meaning Making,” he explains a new theory that music is the best tool available to help our brains remain engaged enough to navigate our most difficult moments, including cognitive dissonance or feeling through challenging relationships.

Songwriting and Cognitive Dissonance 

I learned about this theory at a TEDx UNR talk last month by country singer-songwriter Cam (we will post the video as soon as it is live), where she explained Perlovsky’s theory of how music helps with cognitive dissonance. As a songwriter, this concept makes a lot of sense to me. I often write songs during times when I am experiencing cognitive dissonance. It’s when I’m having trouble making sense of my experience that I pick up my guitar and enter into a creative process that helps me to express the difficult-to-express feelings.

Music Helps Us Navigate Difficult Experiences 

Music is fundamental to our evolutionary creation of language, in part because it helps us navigate cognitive dissonance. Research shows that we would not have developed language without having the capacity to deal with cognitive dissonance. While we have many more ways of dealing with our cognitive dissonance, music is our most ancient and immediate strategy.

This research has multiple implications, from higher performance on tests to emotional resiliency after loss. In one study, students who were able to listen to music while taking tests performed much better on the test than those who did not listen to music. This relates to cognitive dissonance because our brains typically spend less time on the things that don’t make sense to us; but with music, students spent more time on the more difficult problems, thereby improving their performance.

Reconciling and Creating Meaning 

We can extrapolate this finding to imagine how music can help with all kinds of cognitive dissonance in our daily lives; losing a loved one, divorces, aging, or any other life changes that are uncomfortable. What if we were able to sit with these difficult aspects of our lives and gain meaning from the experience, rather than do our best to avoid the discomfort?

I think we’d experience our emotions, gain wisdom, and acknowledge our need for connection to help us through life’s difficulties. Perhaps this is what we’re doing when we go to a concert and hear songs that make us feel something. Perhaps this is really the role of the songwriter and composer; to help us understand and reconcile our experience from confusion to meaning and perhaps reconnect us to some ancient sense of wholeness.

Next Steps

Next time you experience cognitive dissonance, while performing a difficult task, or processing something new, try listening to music to help you stay with it longer. If you’re interested in learning how to express yourself through your own musical creations, but don’t have the tools to do so, feel free to call me to talk more about how music therapy and/or songwriting could help you in your life.

Best of Facebook

You’ve got to love it when Ellen features deserving people. This teacher works with kids in one of the lowest performing schools in the country and decided to use music as his first and most important tool in turning their academic performance around. It’s inspiring to see the use of music as a means for engagement, fun, celebration, connection, and community.

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Evening of Romance – Enchanted Masquerade

The Evening of Romance was this past month and it was truly a wonderful evening. We had record-breaking attendance with everyone dressed to the nines, and having a blast. The music was great, as always, with The Note-Ables and David Hayes with The Reno Jazz Orchestra. Thank you to everyone who came, supported the auctions, bought a rose, and made a donation. All of these things make a difference and fund around 16% of our annual budget. Who knew a party could be so powerful!? We have so many people to thank, we listed them below. Cheers to another successful year! And set your calendar for next year, February 10th at the Peppermill Tuscany Ballroom. Please email Sarah Toney if you are interested in serving on this upcoming year’s committee!

Current Class Openings!

Come play with us! Our classes are inclusive of all abilities, and we are happy to help you decide which class would be best! Visit our programming page for class descriptionsBelow are the classes that are currently open. Please call the office to register or to be placed on the wait list for a class that is currently full.

Exploring Music Junior – A class for children ages 5-11 to sing, play instruments, dance, and perform. Thursdays 4:30-5:15pm – $30/month

Exploring Music Teen Class – A class for teens ages 12-21 to sing, play instruments, dance, write songs, and perform! Tuesdays 3-4pm – $30/month

Dance II – High energy dance class for teens and adults taught by Wendy Firestone. Wednesdays 4:15-5:15pm – $30/month

Dance class

Upcoming Events

Note-Ables Performing at National Arts Roundtable – March 10th 8:30am – 11am (McKinley Arts and Culture Center)
Leaders from national arts organizations, including representatives of the National Endowment of the Arts and National Assembly of State Arts Associations, will be joining to discuss the arts and The Note-Ables will be performing! The event is open to the public, but requires registration through the Nevada Arts Council.

Chakra – March 17th, 8:15 – 10:15 am (McKinley Arts and Culture Center, west side basement)
Please join Lisa A. Rizzoli, Tantra Educator, and Laurie Martin, Dancing Freedom Facilitator, RhythmU for a revitalizing morning session exploring the 7 chakras (energy centers) through movement. We will spend the 2 hour session moving through a specific set of music with facilitation designed to tune into and open each chakra center. Enjoy this time for yourself to clear, balance and energize! Suggested donation $15

Basement Session – March 27th, 12 pm (McKinley Arts and Culture Center, west side basement)
Would you like to know more about music therapy and our programs? You’re welcome to join us for lunch! We share stories and explain what makes music therapy so effective, and The Note-Ables play a brief set. It’s fun, informative and inspiring. Please email Sarah Toney for more information and to RSVP. Seating is limited, so please do contact us to attend!

Face painting at Artown
Note-Able events are always fun and inclusive! Our summer schedule is loading up, stay tuned!

February Thank Yous

Special thank you to everyone who made the Enchanted Masquerade a success! 
Our VIP table sponsors and corporate sponsors were American Pacific Mortgage, Bank of the West, Florence Cordine, Cremeans Real Estate Group (ReMax Professionals), Cynfully Essential, Cheryl Eckert, Edie Bailly, Enterprise Car Sales, Peggy and Tom Hall, Rick and Elsa Heroux, Sandy Jacob, Karen Vibe, Melting Pot World Emporium, NV Energy, Renown Health, Dave Stockman, Toppozada and Wilson families, and Don and Lori Welsh.

Special thank you to David Hayes, The Reno Jazz Orchestra, Mark Simon, Chris Daniels, Tim Spencer and The Reno Fire Department, Jarrod Stewart and the Sparks Fire Department, Jessica Escobar, Heather Gallagher, Shelby McAuliffe of McAuliffe Photography, Anastasia Bobadilla, Jake Peck, Moana Nursery, Bruka Theater, and Andrea Sullivan and Evoke Modern Dance Company including Lisa Lee, Scooby Meredith, Kat Rosen.

Our event committee members were Rick Altenburg, Cheryl Eckert, Elsa and Rick Heroux, Karen Hunsader, Sandy Jacob, Deanna Lyons, Natalie Michaelson, Marilyn Moon, Chris Stewart, Dave Stockman, Lori Welsh, and Sandy Young.

Thank you to our classroom and office volunteers! 
Mark Geeson, Tia Henderson, Marilyn Moon, Cindy Oesterle-Prescott, Chris Keenan, Cheryl Eckert, Courtney Mayer, Katie Fountain, Scarlett Saiki, Jewelene Fritts, Ariel Miller, and Cheyenne Underwood.

Thank you to our February donors!
Marilyn Moon, Jaime Briscoe Collins, Mary Lee Fulkerson, Kate Kirkpatrick, Susan Glasson, Scott Harrington, Ginger Lenox, Jarrod Stewart, Chuck Reider, Tim Young, Jim Frommer, and Margaret Friedrichs.

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

  • Shredder
  • Laminator
  • Art supplies – anything you’re not using, we’ll find a use!
  • 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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