November 2016


This week Note-Able Music Therapy Services was honored to receive the Community Impact award from the American Red Cross of Northern Nevada. The award was presented at the Red Cross Everyday Heroes breakfast, and we were thrilled with the recognition that music does indeed create lasting change for people of all ages and abilities in our community.

As we reached out to invite people to join us at the breakfast, we were reminded again how many people we have to thank for the birth, growth, and success of NMTS. With the dedication of hundreds of donors, funders, community partners, volunteers, and staff over the years, we now serve well over 1,000 people per year.

We believe in a community where everyone is included, where everyone’s voice is heard and everyone has access to opportunities to explore their potential. Music is a profound tool to make this vision a reality. We are grateful for your role in this vision. It is with your belief, action, engagement, care, and generosity that music therapy and music opportunities are reaching more and more people every day.

It’s not just us who say thank you. Your greater community is seeing, feeling and appreciating the good you are making possible. So, even though I was given the award, this is work we are doing together. This Community Impact award is for you and all of us who are in this good circle together. Congratulations on helping to make your community better for everyone!


Manal Toppozada
Executive Director and Founder

NMTS Moments

All of the classes at NMTS, along with individual participants and The Note-Ables, have been getting ready for the big Fall Showcase happening this Saturday at the Nugget Celebrity Showroom (buy your tickets online!). The Exploring Music I class has spent the past few weeks writing original songs to perform. Together, they re-wrote lyrics to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to reflect all the fun experiences they have in class. We don’t want to give away all the surprise, but the second verse says, “We’re inspired to try new things / Like beating drums and strumming strings.” In the other original song “Bartholemew” (written by Mark Geeson of Note-Ables’ fame) the group tells the story about a ghost who is afraid of Halloween. Bartholemew features solos by multiple individuals in the group.They are having the best time writing, rehearsing, and perfecting the show for the big stage. Don’t miss the fun! Join us this Saturday at 7pm. Tickets are only $12 and free for kids 5 and under.

Jack is one of the star performers from Exploring Music I.

Music Therapy Perspectives with Jodi McLaren

As we move into National Hospice and Palliative Care month, I’d like to share a story from my own experience as a music therapy intern working with hospice patients. Each person in hospice care is different and has different needs throughout his or her experience. However, we often help people with pain reduction, life review, relaxation, connecting with family and friends, and emotional issues. During this story, I had the honor of helping a man transition into death.

During the last week of my internship, I walked into the hospice unit of a hospital and checked in with the nurses there to see which patients might benefit from music therapy. The nurse suggested an older man with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).

When I entered the room, the man was gasping heavily and rapidly. His eyes were wide open, staring at the ceiling, and there was a look of terror on his face. I felt that he may be close to death and was afraid, alone, and in distress. I felt a surge of urgency to help him find some peace in his final moments and so my first goal was to help ease his breathing. To begin, I played an improvised lullaby on my guitar first matching the rhythm of his breathing, and then slowing the rhythm to help him slow down with me. While this approach often helps people to soothe the autonomic nervous system, this time nothing was working.

I went back to the nurse and asked if he might need medication to help his breathing, apparent pain, and agitation. She responded that he has all the medication he needs right now and not to worry; that this was just the stage he was in. As I turned to re-enter the room, I became aware of my own panic. I had never seen someone in this much distress, even in hospice. I took a moment to dig deep into myself for a sense of calm, because I realized there was no way I’d be able to help this man calm down if I myself was full of anxiety, no matter what I played on my guitar. So, as I settled in next to him, I took some deep breaths and started again, this time singing a song that came to mind – “Peace is Flowing Like a River.”

When I started playing and singing, his breathing began to change. It slowed bit by bit. After a while, his eyes searched the room until they found mine. He held my gaze and shed a tear. His breathing gradually slowed more and more, until there were 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 60 seconds between each inhale. His face relaxed and he entered into a liminal space, just before dying, of breathing in once every minute or two. The nurse entered and thanked me for helping him with his transition. She let me know that this stage of dying could go for hours or minutes, depending on the person, but that my work was done in helping him return to a peaceful state. He died shortly after I left the room.

A member of the cleaning staff had entered the room when I was still singing to him. She paused to witness the moment and she said “You’re singing him home.” I believe people in their final moments have a sense of choosing who is with them, and whether or not they want to be alone or with loved ones when they go. I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to help this complete stranger in his final moments to find a place of calm.

Upcoming Events

Fall Showcase – November 5th, 7pm at Nugget Celebrity Showroom
The Fall Showcase is our participants’ time to shine on the big stage of the Celebrity Showroom! As one of our singers put it, they get to be on the same stage that some of the the greats performed, like Johnny Cash and Pat Boone. Everyone is full of excitement to perform at the Nugget and can’t wait to show you all that they can do. Buy your tickets online today!

Basement Session – November 14th, 12pm (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!

Holiday Choir at Renown Children’s Miracle Network Breakfast with Santa – December 3rd, 8am (Cantina Los Tres Hombres)
Join the NMTS Holiday Choir for a delicious holiday breakfast, caroling, and pictures with Santa. Event proceeds benefit Northern Nevada’s Children’s Miracle Network Hospital- Renown Children’s Hospital. For more information visit the Renown Children’s Hospital website or call 982-4100.

Holiday Choir at Charlie Brown Christmas – December 2nd, 7pm and December 3rd, 2pm (McKinley Arts and Culture Center)
The NMTS Holiday Choir will be adding to the festivities with caroling at TheatreWorks of Northern Nevada’s heartwarming production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Tickets are available on the TWNN website.

The Note-Ables at Spirit of the Season – December 3rd, 2pm and 8pm; December 4th, 2pm (Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts)
The Note-Ables will be singing with the Reno Philharmonic at one of the most festive and beloved events of the year. Get your tickets soon, these concerts sell out quickly. Tickets available on the Reno Philharmonic’s website.

Evening of Romance – Enchanted Masquerade – February 4th, 8pm (Grand Sierra Resort)
The Evening of Romance is coming up again already! Save the date for February 4th. Tickets will be on sale soon, please visit the event page for additional information and sponsor opportunities.

Fall Showcase

Best of Facebook

Our Facebook post of the pictures from last year’s Evening of Romance – Winter Masquerade Ball got tons of traffic. People are getting ready for the next Evening of Romance, which is coming ’round the corner soon! Save the date for February 4th, 2017. The event will be at the Grand Sierra Resort, featuring The Note-Ables and The Reno Jazz Orchestra as usual, with some new twists and entertainment waiting to surprise you! Check out the pictures and get ready for another fabulous Evening of Romance!

Follow us on Facebook

October Thank Yous!

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

Thank you to our October donors!
Scott Harrington, Kate and Jay Kirkpatrick, Paul and Marilyn Moon, Jeanine and Pauline Mooers, Karlene Lovering, Country Financial, Florence Cordine, and Jaime Briscoe Collins

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!
  • 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

Marilyn Moon – Secretary

John Firestone – Director
Executive Director – The Life Change Center

Sandy Jacob – Director

Dennis Doty – Director 
Physical Therapist – HCR ManorCare 

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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