Earthtones cares deeply about our clients and we are here to support you during this time of social distancing. We are excited to announce we now offer music therapy services through a virtual platform. Our professional therapists are trained to design specialized programs for individuals and groups to meet needs for connection, creativity, and emotional processing. Our virtual sessions offer a wide range of engagement opportunities, including making music with homemade instruments, movement, writing a song to send to a loved one, sensory engagement, and more!
As we adapt to these uncertain times, we believe we can still come together as a community for support, nurturance, and care. Our therapists and administrative team will work with you to help you get set up using our simple, reliable virtual platform.
Call us to schedule your first session
We would be honored to continue to serve you, or provide new opportunities for virtual music therapy in your community. Call us at (503)-284-6794 Ext. 1 to schedule your first virtual session!
Strength and fortitude, Jodi Winnwalker, Earthtones Owner and CEO
Our internship journey started as expected, with both the nervousness of taking on a new role and hope about becoming a professional music therapist. We were beginning to feel grounded as intern music therapists when everything changed rapidly…by mid-March, all of our sessions were suspended and we were quarantining at home. Little by little, we were coming to terms with postponing our internship, when we were invited to continue by delivering music therapy…virtually?! We were just learning how to practice music therapy in person! Can this actually teach us how to be music therapists?!
Despite feeling uncertain, we moved forward, setting up our spaces and experimenting with sound quality. We even spent a day building our own backdrops; Katie’s was made out of posterboard and tape and Chloe’s out of PVC pipe and a curtain she found around her house!
Within two weeks, we booked our first client virtually, and we weren’t sure how virtual music therapy would feel, especially with playing music with a time delay. In our first week back, we learned we could actually play music in many similar ways as to in-person sessions! We moved forward with a bit more hope, but also knew there was a long way to go. Over the next two months, we felt more comfortable with each session. Finally, we were ready to move out of survival mode and into a headspace that allowed for growth again.
One of the main highlights in our virtual music therapy internship has been the simple joy of seeing our clients and making music with them, as well as working with clients we wouldn’t have been able to in-person. Chloe’s favorite part of virtual music therapy is how authentic the music still feels, even when playing across the screen. Katie had an amazing experience singing hymns and spirituals with a client, making spiritual connections that felt wholesome even through a screen. Each Friday, we close our week out with a dance party session, where everyone is encouraged to let loose and find good energy for the weekend!
Through all of the challenges of adapting to virtual sessions, we’ve experienced some exciting new benefits with using technology, and especially the screen share feature, including: more music tech compositions, Zoom chatting, musical games, and visual sharing, such as an image off of Google. One client of ours even writes songs with emojis!
Transitioning from in-person to telehealth halfway through the internship posed many challenges and fears. One of our biggest concerns was whether we could gain the skills we needed to become professional music therapists with most of our internship occuring virtually. As we get ready to leave this internship, we will take with us a stronger sense of creativity, flexibility, adaptability, and resiliency. We are grateful to have learned within a supportive team, with great supervisors helping us along the way. While this experience didn’t turn out how we originally anticipated, we do trust that it has still provided us with what we need to enter the world as professional music therapists.
If you’re wondering what a virtual music therapy session might entail, search no further! Just as before, our clients participate by singing, dancing, playing instruments, writing songs, relating songs back to their personal experiences, and listening to music.
For more, check out this session reenactment, designed to connect Brenda*, a 77 year old woman isolated in a memory care home in Portland, and her daughter Madison who lives on the east coast.
Riley, board certified music therapist, initiates the call. Brenda calls in with staff assistance and her daughter Madison joins from her home. They smile and wave at each other and jump right into “Oh! What a Beautiful Morning.” During the song, Riley asks what makes each of their mornings ‘beautiful,’ with Brenda describing ‘the flowers outside,’ and Madison sharing a picture of her garden.
The group keeps warming up by singing a few classics: “Sentimental Journey” and “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Madison grabs a tin can to ‘drum along’ while Brenda dances to her beat!
They sing “Home on the Range” and Madison talks about growing up in spacious coastal Oregon. The family fondly reminisces about their vacations along the coast flying kites, swimming in the cold water, and building sand castles. With Riley’s facilitation, they compile their memories into an original song called “Sweet Days With You.”
Madison asks for a copy of the song and Riley notes to send her the lyrics and a recording later that day. The session wraps up with a few deep breaths of gratitude. Brenda and her daughter share about their plans for the rest of the day and set up a time to listen to the recording together later on in the week.
Kate Lowen, board certified music therapist, was eager to provide virtual sessions to support her clients. In addition to her music therapy practice, she’s taught English online for almost two years and was already aware of how effective virtual work can be! Check out her interview below for more about her favorite moments and creative session ideas!
What have you enjoyed most about virtual work?
My favorite moments are all about reconnecting with clients that I haven’t seen in a long time! I’m so grateful to provide them with support through a virtual medium. It’s also been exciting to explore the magic of technology together. Some of my clients are excited for extra screen time and others are impressed by how technology is bringing us together in an isolating time!
“I’m both surprised and amazed at the genuine interactions I’ve had with clients… I have witnessed true joy and felt a true connection when making music virtually.”
What creative ideas have you incorporated into your sessions?
In my sessions, I’ve been taking advantage of being at home by planning themed sessions with items I have in my house. I’ve shown clients my seashell and sand collection while we sang beach songs. Another example is that I’ve displayed my houseplants while we compose songs about planting seeds.
What would you say to someone uncertain about the virtual format?
Just give it a try! I’m both surprised and amazed at the genuine interactions I’ve had with clients, even those with little experience with technology. I have witnessed true joy and felt a true connection when making music with others virtually.
“Virtual sessions provide greater opportunities for independence for my clients… and deepen [their] connection with staff/caregivers.”
What unexpected benefits are you aware of in your virtual music therapy work?
A benefit I didn’t expect is how virtual sessions provide greater opportunities for independence for my clients. They can sit by themselves, make choices, and independently interact (or not interact if they choose!) with me onscreen. I’ve also witnessed how our sessions deepen the connection for clients with their staff/caregivers. I get a greater understanding of the clients’ larger communities and the client and caregivers get to interact with one another in music.
This past month, Earthtones Northwest therapists began providing virtual sessions for the first time in our 24-year history! This post is the first in a series about our therapists’ favorite moments, discoveries, and creative solutions. First up: board certified music therapist Maggie Johnson!
What unexpected benefits are you aware of in your virtual music therapy work?
The advantages of connecting virtually have completely blown me away! For some, we’ve evolved the caregiver’s in-session role to that similar to a co-therapist. This benefits both parties and expands their way of relating to each other. For other participants, engaging in virtual sessions seems to have equal ease as calling one’s grandchild on the phone, whether they have ever experienced a video call prior to virtual music therapy sessions or not. There’s also the obvious benefit of being able to connect virtually anyone: friends from your day program, family living across the country, or any member of our team. It can be a real party!
“The benefits of connecting virtually [with clients] have completely blown me away! … From a ‘musician’s toolbox’ point of view, I can have my full live performance set-up in my home studio.‘
Thinking of my clients, most of whom had never done a video call prior to our virtual music therapy sessions, increasing one’s access to virtual music therapy also increases their access to the digital world in general. A client of mine asked me the other day, “Can I call anyone on this thing?”
From a ‘musician’s toolbox’ point of view, I can have my full live performance set-up in my home studio with amp and pedals. Having unbarred access to my keyboard, or my looping pedal with guitar has been very fun. I’m also having fun exploring all things MIDI (electronic music).
Tell us about some of your favorite session moments this past month.
A new client and I were conducting Holst together and I could tell they had played the piece in the past by how intricately they were conducting. In one moment we laughed as we mimed our instrument parts, in the next, it was as though we were conducting a full orchestra in earnest! I’ve also really enjoyed creating musical scores to my client’s favorite story books or graphic novels with them in sessions.
‘Our drive to make music doesn’t go away just because we can’t be physically close. The joy of music is as important as ever.’
How does virtual music therapy support your clients’ well-being?
Just as ever, active music making for self-expression and creativity on the part of the participants is a prominent focus of my work. Another salient goal is one that we are all experiencing: navigating through COVID-19 related changes on our own terms.
What have you learned throughout this process?
Our drive to make music doesn’t go away just because we can’t be physically close. The joy of music is as important as ever in this time. With the right supports, anyone can benefit from virtual music and horticultural therapy sessions. They might have components that are different from an in-person session but I continue to be affirmed that it is SO worth exploring the possibility. Our clients and families, my team, and our partner agencies are making it happen!
‘With the right supports, anyone can benefit from virtual music and horticultural therapy sessions.’
It is my mission in life to honor creativity and give it the full respect that it deserves, knowing that such a practice is what opens the door to life experiences that create meaning. I can’t help but see parallels to what developing one’s creativity in the arts does for one’s life and health. It plays out in identifiable ways for us all, including myself, right now.
As we begin a new decade we here at Earthtones NW are feeling grateful for you, our community. We feel honored to provide music therapy, horticultural therapy and art therapy to the Willamette Valley and beyond. Our practice is centered around building therapeutic relationships and supporting our clients. We feel such gratitude for these important relationships and want to say thank you for the opportunity to know you, and provide you with these services. If you are a case manager- we value you and are thankful for all you do. If you are someone who has chosen to receive our services we are inspired by you and overwhelmed with gratitude. If you are a family member of a client- we so appreciate getting to know you and hearing your story. If you are a facility staff member- we acknowledge your hard work and want to say thank you for supporting us and the people in your community. As we reflect on 2019 the feelings of warmth and gratitude prevail.
May your 2020 be filled with love and light!
Earthtones NW had the honor of hosting 5 music therapy interns in 2019. Adam and Matthew graduated from our internship program in August 2019. Stephanie, Kat and Darcey are in their final month of internship and are set to graduate come end of January 2020. Chloe and Katie began their music therapy internship journey just last week. We are excited to have them as part of our team. We are grateful to work with these talented individuals and are proud of their growth and accomplishments.
We look forward to continuing to serve our community in 2020 and wish you all a year of health and wellness. For more information on Earthtones Northwest and our services explore our website at or give us a call at (503) 284-6794, we would love to hear from you.
All Classical Portland recently embarked on a month long campaign focused on music and health. As part of their efforts to highlight the incredible ways in which music heals, they invited Jodi Winnwalker, Earthtones owner and CEO, to join a panel of professionals with a live audience at the radio station.
How music heals
On Oct 17th Jodi and Dr. Larry Sherman, Kristrun Grondal, and Nancy Ive sat down with moderator Suzanne Nance, President and CEO of All Classical, to discuss how music is utilized in therapy and medicine.
“It was a privilege and delight to join a panel of well informed and dynamically engaged professionals, all committed to the use of music for health and social justice in our community.”
During the month long “Music Heals” campaign All Classical featured several local organizations whose mission supports music and health. One such feature highlighted MusicNow, a collaborative program of Earthtones Northwest and the Oregon Symphony. Maggie Johnson, Earthtones Music Therapy Program Director, was invited into the studio alongside Alicia DiDonato Paulsen, the Assistant Principal Flute for the Oregon Symphony, to talk about the unique program.
MusicNow is a one of a kind program that pairs an Oregon Symphony professional musician and a board-certified music therapist to collaborate in providing high quality music and musical experiences to groups of adults living with dementia. The result of such collaboration benefits the participants as part of a wider musical community and allows the musicians to share and witness the strength of these communities and the power of music as a way to form immediate bonds with others.
The 15th annual Senior Gardening Days was held at Portland Nursery on September 18th and October 16th 2019. Earthtones Northwest, the Portland Memory Garden, and Home Instead sponsored the lively event which provided free nature-based activities, demonstrations, and live music for older adults across the community. Despite the cooler temperatures and rain over 170 people came to immerse in the activities, shop for plants and to enjoy the lush autumn season.
Nature-based activities, music and community
Box of Chocolates, led by Reggie Houston, charmed the crowd with the sounds of jazz, blues, and old classic tunes. Community members made their way through the nursery, stopping at tables offering activities such as crocus planting, seasonal potpourii sachets, pressed leaf and flower embossing and more during the 2 hour nursery event.
Connecting with the season, self and others
Senior Gardening Days aims to provide older adults, especially those living in care facilities, a chance to get out into their community and connect with peers, plants, music, horticultural therapists and horticultural therapy students.
“this is just so wonderful, look at how beautiful it is!”
One participant said “this is just so wonderful, look at how beautiful it is!” after completing a pressed leaf arrangement. This annual event takes place every September and October. For more information on next years event, and how to RSVP please visit Portland Nurseries website.
Earthtones NW has the honor of serving clients in the greater Portland area, Wilsonville, Salem and Eugene. And now, we are reaching out to serve Central Oregon. On July 17th 200 community members of Sisters Oregon came together to drum, sing, eat and play! Earthtones NW’s CEO and owner, Jodi Winnwalker, coordinated the second annual Sisters Rhythm & Song in the Park event, bringing together local musicians and community members to celebrate the summer season and to connect through shared musical experiences. The event was free to the community and included a dinner of hot dogs, potato salad, chips and cookies.
Blurring the lines between performer and audience
One unique element of the evening was the approach to blurring the lines between “performer” and “audience”. This event was designed to engage the “musician” in everyone. Local musicians were invited to share music of various styles in the center of the circle. The community gathered around the featured musicians and were invited to sing, dance and play along. Earthtones interns brought an impressive collection of musical instruments that were made available and placed throughout the a circle for all to play. The instruments included drums, shakers and other small instruments, tone chimes and a gong. The interns also wrote and led a chant about peace and unity. Even the surrounding Ponderosa Pines and other park trees seemed to sway to the music. Earthtones intern Darcy Wallace
“I loved seeing multiple generations gathering in one place, both musicians and those new to music. It felt like people had freedom to express themselves and listen and engage with others” – Earthtones intern Darcy Wallace
Joy and connection
Many of the folks that attended the event remembered the joy and connection they experienced last year and wanted to participate again. “I think it’s great for the community to get together and celebrate”, Dottie Kemble said, who came with her two granddaughters.
Rhythm & Song was made possible by Citizens 4 Community, and the many sponsors of the event including Earthtones NW, the Ford Family Foundation, St. Charles Health System, Coldwell Banker Reed Bros. Realty, and the Lodge in Sisters. Paulina Springs Books donated the chairs and the PA system was managed by Rich Hummel. Rhythm and Song is an event for the community and by the community, and what a wonderful event it is!
They’re adaptable. When you put a tambourine in your hand, the jingles or “zils” practically play themselves. Most tambourines are responsive enough that they require very little movement to playand their bright sound rings through when you shake them in the music circle.
They add sparkle to any song. So many great songs feature the tambourine. Check out our playlist on Spotify for some of our favorite examples. Or, we bet if you give a listen to genres such as rock or classical in your own music library, you’ll be sure to hear it!
They’re easy to sanitize. Music therapists sanitize their instruments after every session.