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Fresh Faces OF DFW: Marcie Friedman, Inspirational Music Therapist

Updated: May 13, 2021

Marcie Friedman is the founder of Southwestern Music Therapy. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in music therapy with an emphasis in voice from Arizona State University in 2001. She continued her studies in music therapy by becoming certified as a Neurological Music Therapist under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Thaut. Friedman has been practicing music therapy for more than 15 years within a variety of settings and special needs populations, and is considered a specialist in the field of autism. She continues to educate the public by providing live music therapy sessions and giving talks and in-services regarding the benefits and proven results of music therapy.

How did you get started as a music therapist?

As a child, I always had a passion for helping others in need. Those feelings and ambitions stayed with me my entire life. I also possess a strong musical talent and background. I began singing professionally at the age of 13 and continued performing into my college years. Once I started my college education, I learned that Arizona State University had an outstanding nationally-recognized program for music therapy. This was exciting for me to be able to use my musical abilities to improve the overall wellness of others. That is when I found myself pursuing music therapy as a career.

Who utilizes the services of a music therapist?

Music therapists work with individuals ranging in ages from neonatal/pediatrics to seniors and hospice/palliative care. We see individuals with varying developmental delays, rehabilitation, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, hospice, Autism, substance abuse, at risk youth, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, MS, mental retardation, epilepsy, ADHD, ADD, and learning difference just to name a few.

How does music therapy help someone?

When working with individuals who are diagnosed with stroke or Parkinson’s, for example, we are able to rehabilitate their gait and stride length to assist them with mobility. Through rhythmic auditory stimulation (RAS) techniques, we measure the internal cadence of an individual (determined by how they move naturally and their walking patterns). We then utilize the data as beats per minute when utilizing a metronome. The client listens to the external beat of the metronome and moves to their internal cadence while engaged in live singing with the music therapist.

How are you making an impact in the Dallas Fort Worth area?

We started as a grass roots company with my own single case load of clients in late 2008 and now maintain over 25 therapists and over 100 ongoing clients. We continue to evolve and impact the lives of the special needs communities that we serve. The DFW families we see continue to benefit greatly from the music therapy interventions, achieving their developmental goals and improving their overall wellness. I have seen our clients exceed all expectations and are able to become independent young adults, employed at local markets or bookstores and giving back to society by volunteering at various special needs venues. The seniors and hospice patients truly benefit by being able to reminisce about their youth, using reality orientation as a way to rekindle and connect past memories and feelings. This helps with their overall well-being and pain management.

How are you giving back to the community?

We annually host a booth during Stephanie’s Day, an event sponsored by CBS in the summer to increase awareness in the community and are involved with the National Autism Association, where we provide interactive music therapy activities for the families during their holiday events. We also provide various in-services for hospitals, nursing homes, and other special needs organizations around the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area.

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