It all started in February 2011, on holiday from my 2nd year postgraduate degree in music therapy at Montpellier University, France, I visited my parents in Nottingham, England.
My mother had saved me an article from the Daily Telegraph « Music therapy has flipped the switch for U.S politician, Gabrielle Gifford ». As I read the article I felt tears welling up in my eyes with a profound sense of “these are the techniques I need to learn”.
The pure serendipity of coming across this article and its content had also “flipped my switch”. Although it was a long shot, I decided to write to the music therapist treating Mme Gifford; Ms Maegan Morrow, and I googled the address of the hospital; TIRR Memorial Hermann.
Ten days after sending this letter, I received an e’mail from Maegan saying that she and her director Amy Marroquin would be delighted to have a European intern. I was completely over the moon, and so immediately started the administration ball rolling between my university in Montpellier, France and TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas.
I started my internship programme at TIRR Memorial Hermann on the 29 August 2011. With Amy and Maegan as my competent and friendly supervisors, I discovered, learnt and practised the techniques of « Neurologic Music Therapy » NMT.
These techniques aim to rehabilitate speech, motor and cognitive skills in traumatic brain injured (TBI) patients. My supervisors also encouraged me to do the NMT course with Dr Michael Thaut at Colorado University, which gave me further insight and training in music therapy for neurological disorders.
From a cultural point of view, I have been delighted to initiate an exchange programme and conference between the University of Montpellier, Sam Houston State University and TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital.
This includes organising a week of NMT seminars, conferences and workshops with TIRR’s music therapists: Amy and Maegan and the professors of SHSU: Karen Miller and Hayoung Lim, from March 3rd to March 8th in Montpellier, France.
These conferences, based on music therapy for brain injury and neurological disorders, will serve to inform, educate and enlighten not only the French music therapists, but also the French medical professionals and hospitals.
An informal talk on NMT for the general public will be hosted by The French American Centre on the 5th march at 6pm. We look forward to seeing you there. Can you hear me Houston?” Tueday 5th March at 6pm