Friends of MTAM

Nominate a Friend of MTAM

1. Nominee has contributed to music therapy in MN in some way e.g., professional advocacy, donations to music therapy projects.
2. Nomination process: Nominator must write a 1 page essay detailing nominee’s contributions to music therapy in Minnesota.
3. Contributions of nominee are preferred to have occurred in the year nominated but are not required.
4. Must be nominated by a member of MTAM.
5. Nomination must be received two weeks prior to Spring conference.
6. Award will be presented during Spring conference.
7. Email all award nominations to Jessica De Villers at

Dr. Patricia Connors

Spring 2017 Friend of MTAM Award

Nominated by Michelle Sieben

Patricia Connors Collage

(From Nomination Letter>
I would like to nominate Dr. Patricia Connors, Chair of the Department of Music and Theater at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN as a Friend of Music Therapy. Dr. Connors was instrumental in helping me forge a pathway to get my music therapy degree in 2008. In my time as a student she willingly re-arranged class schedules and worked with me to ensure I was able to take the classes I needed at Augsburg even when they conflicted with the classes in her own department at St. Kate’s. Since that time she has worked in collaboration with Dr. Kagin at Augsburg to establish a consistent route for students at St. Kate’s to pursue majors in Music Therapy through the ACTC program. As a result of her dedication to helping her students succeed, students at St. Kate’s are able to more easily navigate between St. Kate’s and Augsburg in order to study music therapy. In addition to the support she has given students desiring degrees in music therapy, Dr. Connors has risen as an advocate to the profession of music therapy. This month, I was contacted by Dr. Connors because she was presented with an inquiry from a professor in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program which she recognized would be more appropriately addressed by a music therapy professional. The OTA professor and two students are working on a project with a clinic exploring non-pharmacological techniques for managing pain and they wanted to try some kind of relaxation with music. The original inquiry was for Dr. Connors to suggest or provide some music recordings that they could use for their project. Dr. Connors posed the question of whether they had talked with a music therapist and explained how a music therapist could probably provide them with more detailed research or suggestions for what they were studying. She then offered to help them connect with the music therapy community by forwarding their inquiry to a St. Kate’s alumna who is a board certified Music Therapist. Dr. Connors could have very easily just offered some classical music recordings as asked, but instead she recognized an opportunity to advocate for music therapists and the expertise we have to offer. I am currently in conversations with the OTA students working on the project, who had never heard of music therapy, and would not have considered it if not for the direction provided them by Dr. Connors.

I feel that Dr. Connors is to be commended for her support of music therapy both in her work with students seeking opportunities to pursue music therapy as a major, and in her willingness to advocate for music therapy when the situation arises. With a village of individuals who offer their support even in the small ways of posing the question, “have you talked with a music therapist about this?” our profession can continue to grow and be recognized in our community and our state. Dr. Connors is a voice in the field of music education that recognizes and respects the expertise of Music Therapists and who is aware of and willing to advocate for our field as she is able. I definitely feel she deserves to be recognized as a friend of Music Therapy.

Doug Schmitt

Fall 2016 Friend of MTAM Award

Nominated by Roberta Kagin

(From Nomination Letter)
For four generations, the Schmitt Family has been very influential in Minnesota. Doug Schmitt is the great-grandson of Paul A Schmitt, the first President of Schmitt Music Co. In 1958, there was a national Rotary conference in Minneapolis that featured founders in the field of
music therapy. Schmitt Music offered to house our national office in Minneapolis, but the home office was located in Lawrence, Kansas because of Dr. Gaston’s prominence at the University of Kansas. Margaret Schmitt, Doug’s grandmother, was a contemporary of Louise Whitbeck Fraser, who founded the Fraser School in Richfield, which was based on music for learning for children with special needs. Mrs. Schmitt was
also a friend of Lucretia Rogers Schroeder, who used music and physical therapy at Gillette Children’s Hospital.

Doug Schmitt’s grandfather gave a land grant to the University of Minnesota to start the first
program in music therapy back in the 1960s. I taught one of the first classes in music therapy at the
U of M in 1973, before starting the music therapy program at Augsburg College in 1974. In 1975,
Doug’s grandfather, Robert Schmitt, was at the head table with me when we hosted the GLR
conference in Minneapolis. I was the President of the GLR at the time, and the local program chair
for the conference. Garrison Keillor was our keynote speaker. Doug’s grandfather also started
music therapy at Courage Center in Golden Valley with a grant to hire a music therapist.
Doug and his late father, Bob Schmitt, have been generous in supporting students at Augsburg
College with scholarship money. It is because of Doug Schmitt that we have a Music Plaza in front
of the music building at Augsburg. He also raised money through his Rotary Club for the Music
Playground at Jackson Park outside of Edison High School.
Doug Schmitt has been present for many music therapy events in Minnesota, including the 40th
anniversary celebration of music therapy at Augsburg in 2014. He also attended the GLR
conference when it was held in Minneapolis. He frequently tells people about the history of music
therapy in Minnesota and helps to facilitate contacts. On Sept. 25th I attended the 75th gala
celebration of the Minnesota Music Teachers, and Doug Schmitt and his wife Ellen were there, and
Doug made connections between music therapists and music teachers. As a fourth generation
executive of the Schmitt Music Co., Doug Schmitt is very worthy of this award.

Inducted May 2015 —

Rep. Lyndon Carlson, Sr.

– Rep. Carlson of district 45A has been a supporter of music therapy licensure since our first steps in the journey in 2012 and has co-authored several of our bills. As a retired teacher, he knows the value of supporting kids in Minnesota.

Rep. Laurie Halverson

– District 51B legislator, Rep. Halverson serves on the Health and Human Services Finance committee and signed on as a co-author for our HF849 (2013-2014) and HF2366 (2015) to grant licensure for music therapist in the state of MN.

Rep. Ben Lien

– Rep. Lien of district 4A has been an support of music therapy licensure bill HF849 (2013-2014) and HF2366 (2015) as a co-author. He sits on the committee for High Education Policy and Finance.

Rep. Yvonne Selcer

– Rep. Selcer served district 48A and supported music therapy licensure as a co-author on HF849 (2013-2014) and HF2366 (2015).

Rep. Jennifer Schultz

– Rep. Schultz of district 7A authored bill HF2366 in 2015 and spoke up for music therapy licensure. She serves on the Health and Human Reform committee.

Sen. John Hoffman

sen-hoffman– Sen. Hoffmann, district 36, led the charge to add music therapists to the teachers bargaining unit in Minnesota which was signed into law on May 16, 2015 as well as authored SF2197 for licensure for music therapists in Minnesota. He is a strong advocate for our work!

Lucas Kunach

-Lucas Kunach is the Public Policy specialist at Fraser School. In addition to his role there, he has helped advocate for and educate legislators on music therapy. He has also been an invaluable resource for the task force as an advisor in the legislative system.

Representative Zachary Dorholt

Fall 2013 Friend of MTAM

Representative Zachary Dorholt
Rep. Dorholt has been an outspoken advocate for music therapy through his work in sponsoring the music therapy licensure bill in the 2013 legislative session. He will continue to work on behalf of the music therapy field in the upcoming session and has offered support and advice throughout the process of gaining state recognition.
Rep. Dorholt works as a marriage and family therapist in the St. Cloud area as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, serving at a non-profit mental health center. He himself is also a musician and appreciates the specialized skills utilized by music therapy professionals in their work.
In the past year, Rep. Dorholt has networked and lobbied for the licensure bill. He will help navigate the various committee hearings and votes that we anticipate will take place in the 2014 legislative session. His resources have been always helpful and encouraging in getting music therapy recognized by the state of Minnesota.
Rep. Dorholt has been a wonderful companion in the process of gaining licensure. By taking on the role of chief author of HF849, he has been a spokesperson for music therapy at the capitol and a certain Friend of our profession.

Representative Nora Slawik

Fall 2012 Friend of MTAM

Rep. Slawik sat on the Autism Society of Minnesota’s Board of Directors and offered to help music therapists gain licensure by authoring and introducing a bill on the floor of the Minnesota house. She assisted the task force in making strong connections and ensured that we were ready to continue this journey next legislative session.

Sarah Sinderbrand

2012 Fall Friend of MTAM

Sara works in the legislative branch of the government and provided huge amounts of assistance in planning and implementing a Day on the Hill. She now has been a vocal advocate for music therapy and is eager to participate in next year’s Day on the Hill.

Mickey Hart

Fall 2010 Friend of MTAM

Billy McLaughlin

Spring 2009 Friend of MTAM

Photo Credit: Ryan Taylor