Music Therapy Tools for Mental Healthcare

Delivered Friday, deployed immediately.

FIFTEEN brand new FLEA ukuleles ($3,300 retail value) bolster music therapy at Cincinnati Children’s College Hill campus. Superior quality, durability and vibrant colors make them ideal instruments for groups as well as individual therapy sessions.

Dale Rabiner, owner of DHR Guitar Experience in Oakley, generously sponsored this ukulele set and dedicated use.

Jenn Seley, MA, MT-BC, CCLS is holding a concert FLEA ukulele with Aloha Plum designer finish. Jenn transitioned from the hospital’s Main campus to College Hill site several years ago. Her role is fully dedicated to psychiatric patient care.

Why devote a large set of premium grade instruments to this specific campus?

• College Hill campus serves nearly 2,100 patients annually. A 3-story expansion began in 2015 with the new wing alone able to serve 10 in-patients (7-8 day average stay) plus 30 residential patients (120 day average stay) at a time. It made the hospital’s College Hill campus the largest pediatric psychiatric treatment center in the country.

• The campus doubled up on music therapy last summer with the addition of therapist Anthony Borzi, MA, MT-BC. Cincinnati Children’s now has seven full-time music therapists – plus interns – serving patients at Main, College Hill and StarShine hospice.

• Shortly after starting this role, Jenn told me that playing a colorful premium ukulele in this setting sends an extra esteem-building message to patients: I’m worth it.

Please consider making a contribution to our ongoing “Ukuleles for Hospital Music Therapy” campaign on GoFundMe. Steady growth beyond the base goal brings more holistic music therapy to those in critical care settings.


Gifted Music Therapists and Their New Instruments

Good things start with a warm cup of coffee.

In this case, meeting up with Brian Schreck, MA, MT-BC and Kathryn Bruno, MT-BC on Monday at Rookwood Commons Starbucks. Cold morning, icy streets. Kathryn walked over in between sessions at Eating Recovery Center Cincinnati. Brian braved a drive from Louisville, where he now serves adult patients at Norton Cancer Institute (NCI).

Brian Schreck, Kathryn Bruno - Rookwood Starbucks - 2018 01 08

We’ve met up routinely over the past decade. Usually to equip them with more FLEA ukuleles for music therapy at Cincinnati Children’s. And I always learn something new about the realm of music therapy (non-confidential info only!). Helps me help them.

FIFTEEN instruments were presented. Six were honorary donations to these gifted music therapists for personal and professional use. The remaining nine fulfill a special order funded by NCI’s new “Cancer Beats” program. Kathryn is posing with a Mango soprano FLEA ukulele. Brian is holding his new Rainsong graphite A/E guitar thanks to the generosity of Rainsong Graphite Guitars in Woodinville, Washington.

But beyond coffee, conversation and poses, the best is yet to come. Instruments of this caliber – in the hands of gifted music therapists – summon expression, hope and even joy despite a life threatening illness or condition.

The warmth of that coffee moment keeps pouring into the hearts of hundreds of patients, their family members, friends and caregivers.

THANK YOU Dale Rabiner of DHR Guitar Experience

THANK YOU to Dale Rabiner, owner of DHR Guitar Experience in Oakley. His sponsor gift supplies a large FLEA ukulele set to mental health applications of music therapy. And it enables the “Ukulele Art” fundraiser to zip past the base goal (not a finish line)!

Please meet Dale in this video. Discover what his special guitar shop in the heart of Oakley is all about. If you love guitars, pay him a visit, don’t miss out.

I personally can testify to the DHR Guitar Experience. Delivers everything promised in the video. You experience the depth of Dale’s knowledge and passion for fine guitars. The shop is quaint, comfortable and amply stocked with well-displayed variety. Especially if left-handed and want to play naturally vs. told just play right-handed (by right-handed staffers at other stores). Paul McCartney never settled for that.

Browsing and play opportunities are guided without pressure. Easily extend the experience via: exceptional accessories and supplies, lessons to start or build talents, hosted events with outstanding musicians. And letting that “healthy guitar contagion” stimulate repeat visits to discover and set your sights on your next dream guitar!

Remember those SAT analogies? Dale and DHR Guitar Experience is to Guitar Enthusiasts as Music Therapy is to Patients. The parallels are striking. It’s all about customizing live musicianship with quality instruments to create joy in life, no matter what obstacles stand in the way.

I am proud to have Dale join me in dedicating this ukulele set to the College Hill campus of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Devoted to PSYCHIATRY. Two music therapists serve individuals and groups – complementing their many other life saving and stabilizing interventions. PLEASE watch this video. We all can work together to shatter the stigma of talking, learning about and seeking Mental Health treatment.

Please consider making a contribution to our ongoing “Ukuleles for Hospital Music Therapy” campaign on GoFundMe. Steady growth beyond the base goal brings more holistic music therapy to those in critical care settings.

THANK YOU to The Magic Fluke Company

THANK YOU to Phyllis and Dale Webb, plus all of the terrific folks at The Magic Fluke Company, for donating a FIREFLY tenor banjo-ukulele and custom TKL case.

This is a gift to Brian Schreck, MA, MT-BC, honoring how he touches hundreds of patient and family member lives with heartfelt music therapy.

Music therapy does not get any more HEARTFELT than actually incorporating patient HEARTBEATS in the process. Brian’s innovation has been featured by media big and small over the past few years. Adoption by other music therapists is growing. This May 2014 feature at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital shares the heart of it:

What is a FIREFLY banjo-ukulele? One of many creations of The Magic Fluke Co.

The FIREFLY is much like a traditional open-back banjo. Packs distinctive “banjo twang” and “driving rhythm”, yet is strung with nylon strings. Plays with ease and fun of a ukulele. Lighter, easier to hold than a traditional banjo. We donated several SOPRANO size versions of the FIREFLY to hospitals and they are a huge hit. The TENOR size has a longer 17″ scale with 8″ Remo banjo head, steel tone ring, beautiful maple.

The Magic Fluke Company – Sheffield, Massachusetts USA

USA innovation spirit and premium craftsmanship doesn’t get any better than instruments handmade by The Magic Fluke! This family run business in Sheffield, Massachusetts melds creativity, ingenuity and fine workmanship into an expanding line of superb acoustic instruments. CLICK HERE or photo above for an inside glimpse.

Their novel FLEA ukuleles are the heart and soul of True Joy Acoustics. Perfect for players of any ability. Ideal “tools” for supporting music therapy in critical healthcare settings where each one helps hundreds of patients.

Please consider making a contribution to our “Ukuleles for Hospital Music Therapy” campaign on GoFundMe. Soaring past the goal will bring more holistic music therapy to those in critical care settings.

THANK YOU Kathryn Bruno, MT-BC for brightening lives!

Two brand new FLEA ukuleles with cases are being donated to Kathryn Bruno, MT-BC in honor of her music therapy impact at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and her present role at Eating Recovery Center Cincinnati.

Our direct instrument donations (supported by sales proceeds) are not traditionally “counted” toward GoFundMe and sponsorship goals. However, we’re stretching beyond limits to recognize Kathryn’s special impact and collaborative relationship.

Seeing is believing. In this video (May 2011), young Milosh is in ICU awaiting a heart transplant at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. He responds to a music therapy session led by Kathryn, who engages a guitar-strumming nurse and musical mom in the process.

Fast forward 2 years (August 2013), beyond the heart procedure. Milosh is home, enjoying a FLEA ukulele gifted to him in honor of his beaming smile and spirit.

Beyond asserting positive impact on patients and families, Kathryn has a skill of sharing what Music Therapy is all about with the general public. CLICK our prior post where she visits Cincinnati’s local NBC studio to explain her pediatric hospital role. Along with music therapist Mimi Sinclair, Kathryn enages the host in a lively demo.

Since April 2016, Kathryn expanded beyond pediatrics to lead the music therapy program at Eating Recovery Center in Cincinnati. ERC is the nation’s largest network for treating eating disorders; they also treat mood and anxiety disorders.

Emotional coping is involved with any life-threatening disease or physical impairment. Mental health can also pose a “front and center” challenge. Music therapy adds to other interventions to create successful outcomes. Please CLICK and read a blog co-authored by Kathryn, telling how music therapy responds to this mindset:

‘I’m hopeless,’ I sobbed to my therapist, ‘I’m never going to get better’ … I was convinced that nothing was going to change.

Talking openly, becoming aware and seeking helpful interventions for mental health is often blocked by stigma in our culture. We hope this post and Kathryn’s continued music therapy successes help chip away that stigma.

Please consider making a contribution to our “Ukuleles for Hospital Music Therapy” campaign on GoFundMe. Soaring past the goal will bring more holistic music therapy to those in critical care settings.

Dayton Children’s Hospital – Music Therapy In Action

It was an honor last week to connect area sponsors and support Lindsey Steinbrunner, MT-BC with versatile instruments at Dayton Children’s Hospital. Lindsey is a board certified music therapist and graduate of University of Dayton’s program.

The five donated instruments are ideal “tools” for music therapy. They would not be possible without the generosity of Dayton area sponsors: Together We Fight and Hauer Music. Please click on their names to see, share and support their missions.

Together We Fight provides newly diagnosed cancer patients with colorful totes packed with care items. Hauer Music helps everyone bring music into the world –– offering virtually any musical instrument, accessory and lesson you would want plus a stage.

Dayton Children’s captured the event on their website, along with area news stations:

Lindsey and instrument sponsors also shared their programs via live studio appearance on “Living Dayton” at WDTN (NBC affiliate) – CLICK on photo to watch:

Please consider joining this heartfelt cause. Making a contribution to our “Ukuleles for Hospital Music Therapy” campaign on GoFundMe will bring more holistic care to those in critical care settings:

UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital – Music Therapy In Action

Last May, a Sapphire Blue FLEA ukulele was donated to Maya Charlton, MA, MT-BC and her music therapy team at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Made possible by generous GoFundMe sponsors. While “basic” ukuleles are used, Maya wanted to try out a FLEA ukulele in her intensive care work given its special features.

Her response below shares what this innovative ukulele can achieve.

“We are so very grateful for your very generous donation of the beautiful ukulele. It has had constant use since it arrived and has brought so much joy and relaxation to patients, families and staff.

I’m attaching pictures of a young patient of ours who was in both intensive care and rehabilitation. In the ICU the ukulele brought him great joy and relaxation in my work with him. His mood was very low, pain management was a big issue.

When he moved to rehabilitation our music therapist, John Mulcahy, MT-BC, continued use with the ukulele to help strengthen his motor skills, motivate him in meeting his physical therapy goals and give him success-based experiences. Today he finally gets to go home, having met all his rehabilitation goals. Thank you again for all you do and having such a positive impact on so many!”

– Maya Charlton, MA, MT-BC, July 2017

Watch and hear the power of this program. Not just described by Maya, but many testimonials from MD’s, RN’s and PT’s. Kathryn Garcia-Rivera sums it up well at 4:20: “When I see kids participating in music therapy, I see them come out of their shell, they lose their fear, and it’s replaced by joy”.

Maya would love to have a larger set of FLEA ukuleles to reach more patients from Oakland, San Francisco and broader California region. Each instrument lasts for years, reaching hundreds of patients. Contact me directly ( or visit GoFundMe page below if you or your organization would like to help.

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