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Music therapists work in partnership with students, their caregivers and all service providers to support the student’s abilities, preferences and needs. Music therapy interactions may focus on: 

  • Increasing communication skills

  • Improving social skills

  • Emotional skills promoting confidence and independent choices

  • Providing motor/sensory experiences

  • Reinforcing academic/cognitive functioning

  • Music skill development

  • Promoting full inclusion in public music performances


A music therapy plan is based on assessment outcomes that target specific goals and integrate evidence-based strategies through techniques such as singing/vocalizations; instrument play; movement/dance; music improvisation; songwriting/composition; music listening; computer-based music activities; adapted instruction.


Music therapy strategies can address development in cognitive, behavioral, physical, emotional, and social skills and can also facilitate development in communication and sensorimotor skills. Music therapy can be an integral component in helping the child with special needs attain educational goals identified by his/her IEP team.


In schools, music therapy is a related service which is federally funded through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B & Part C. 

children playing a variety of instruments (recorder, violin, trumpet, ukulele, drum) with adult playing guitar


At CNY Music Therapy we contract with County Health Departments to provide services for preschoolers. Music therapy provides early support for children experiencing delay in cognitive, communication, motor, and social skills.



We contract with school districts across Central New York to provide evaluations and ongoing music therapy as a related service. 

Other contract work within schools can include: 

  • Classroom music in a consultant capacity to support a special education classroom teacher to incorporate music into their academic curriculum.

  • Individual or group sessions for emotional expression and support for mental health, particularly in the area of anxiety.

  • Inclusive singing and performance opportunities through a singing and signing chorus that is open for all students to share.


The name 'SignAloud' was devised by students in the APW school district to describe our 'singing and signing' choir. The choir works on the principles of 'total communication' - where we use signs

(with words from American Sign Language (ASL), but not using the grammar) and put them together with vocalizing the words, so that our bodies as well as our voices are focussed on communication. 

This helps the communication of those with language limitations and also supports students learning, or interested in learning ASL as a language, to enhance their vocabulary and signing techniques. It provides a challenge to all participants and opportunities for integration across the school, with no barriers between any age and ability, and it is so much fun to sing together!

Over a number of years, this has provided an inclusive shared performance opportunity, which was warmly welcomed by the music department's parent concerts. 


SignAloud works well as an after-school enrichment program. We offer facilitation for your specific context, and also a training/mentoring program with consultation to equip your school/organization to run a SignAloud program.


“Music is a connection that goes beyond words. Our students with Autism / Special Needs respond to Music Therapy in a way that no other support service alone can provide - Building and reinforcing communication, social skills and academic goals. I have watched nonverbal students find a way to communicate their preferences due to the motivation of music and instruments. I have watched physically aggressive students calm to music. I have seen withdrawn students make eye contact and interact with their peers through a song. Incorporating Music Therapy into schools is an amazing resource and should be sought to be included in our students’ IEPs. I highly recommend Kath and the team at CNY Music Therapy!”

Kathleen Titman

Teacher of Special Education (32years)

“We both feel that he has become more extrovert and outgoing. He is using a lot more words and is able to express himself better. Since starting the music therapy sessions he can initiate conversation more in turn - this allows Jude to express himself better - this has helped his behaviour.”

- Parent of Jude (age 5)

“Almost all children respond to music. Music is an open-sesame, and if you can use it carefully and appropriately, you can reach into that child’s potential for development.”

- Dr.Clive Robbins (co-founder of Nordoff Robbins music therapy clinic and training.)

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