Helping everyone soar higher through music.
The Ascending Scales program at the Chattanooga Autism Center helps individuals with autism and other disabilities access music in a way that is most beneficial to them. We specialize in using an individualized approach to music in order to allow anyone, regardless of ability, to make, enjoy, and ultimately benefit from their interactions with music.
What is Music Therapy?
Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.
This means that you will work with your music therapist through assessments and discussions to create goals that are just for you or your loved one.
It also means that your music therapist is certified and trained in the best ways to use music to address various non-musical goals. You will not just spend your time listening to music, but rather engaging and interacting with music in the way that makes the most sense for you!
Through the Ascending Scales music therapy program, music is utilized in a variety of evidence-based interventions to develop non-musical goals. These goals may be used to address communication, socialization, fine and gross motor skills, sensory integration, attention span, behavior regulation, and emotional recognition and expression. All interventions are individualized and based on ongoing assessments and evidence-based music therapy practices. Interventions may involve playing instruments, moving to music, actively listening, playing musical games, and/or writing songs. Participants in the Ascending Scales music therapy program and their families will receive regular updates regarding progress toward goals, as well as interventions to practice at home in order to build on the skills addressed during the music therapy session.
The music lessons offered through the Ascending Scales program at the Chattanooga Autism Center are adapted to the individual in order to ensure each clients’ success. Whether this means utilizing a different learning or teaching style or physically adapting an instrument, the music lessons offered at Ascending Scales seek to offer everyone, regardless of ability, a successful experience while learning an instrument. Current lessons being offered include: beginner piano, intermediate piano, beginner guitar, intermediate guitar, beginner trumpet, and beginner percussion.
Group Music Therapy
Group music therapy sessions offer music interventions that are designed to meet goals that are easily addressed in a group setting such as socialization and communication. Group music therapy sessions provide opportunities for individuals with similar needs to work together to learn and explore through music. Groups may include 3 - 10 clients and can be created by the clients if you have a group of friends you’d like to make music with, or you can join one of our ongoing group sessions. Be sure to watch for upcoming groups!
Why music therapy for someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Music therapy has been proven to be effective with individuals with ASD because of its ability to engage both hemispheres of the brain at the same time. When processing and interacting with and through music, individuals are engaging the communication, sensory, motor, and auditory areas of the brain. Music is one of the few modalities available that allows for the stimulation and growth of so many brain areas at the same time.
Because music is a social exercise, music therapy has also been shown to increase the social and communication skills of individuals with ASD. By learning how to interact and communicate with the therapist through music, individuals build the skills necessary for social development. These skills include turn taking, waiting, appropriate volume/voice control, and transitioning.
Music therapy is so effective with individuals with ASD because it’s fun! Learning an instrument and engaging with music is a great way to build leisure skills. Individuals with ASD often need guidance to learn how to “play” and exposure to instruments and music opens the door to countless opportunities for leisure and enjoyment.
Interested in learning more about music therapy and ASD? Check out these websites:
Meet the Music
Sarah, a military kid from all over, calls the state of Tennessee home! She earned her Bachelor's of Music with an emphasis in instrumental music education from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (Go Vols!) She spent a year abroad teaching English and Music in countries including Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), India, Vietnam, and Honduras. Back in the US, she taught 8th grade Algebra in an integrated classroom in addition to volunteering as a Rehab Services Assistant at the Center For the Intrepid (CFI) in San Antonio, TX, This experience inspired Sarah to pursue a career in music therapy.
Sarah earned a Master's in Music Therapy from Texas Woman's University in Denton, TX and completed her music therapy internship at Hospice of Santa Cruz County in Santa Cruz, California. Besides her experience working with clients with ASD, Sarah has extensive experience providing music therapy to groups and individuals in settings that include pediatric oncology, memory care, adults with intellectual disabilities, integrated classrooms in a school, a juvenile detention facility, and behavioral health hospitals.
Sarah began her role as the Ascending Scales Music Program Director at the Chattanooga Autism Center in April 2021. In her free time, Sarah enjoys traveling, exploring new cultures and foods, and staying active outside in activities, such as hiking or surfing.
Kennedi Bryant, MT-BC
Kennedi Bryant, originally from Manchester, TN, has called Chattanooga home since 2016. She earned a Bachelor’s of Music with a Concentration in Music Therapy from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Music therapy combines Kennedi’s two biggest passions: music and helping others. Her primary instrument is voice, and she also plays the guitar, ukulele, and piano.
Kennedi’s music therapy clinical experiences include providing services to older adults with Parkinson’s disease, adolescents with various special needs, adults with IDD, and children with ASD and varying diagnoses. She completed her six month clinical internship at In Harmony Pediatric Therapy in Woodstock, GA working mostly with individuals under 20 years old with a variety of diagnoses, including ASD.
In her free time, Kennedi loves to be outside, hiking and enjoying warm weather! She also enjoys volunteering with the Miracle League of Chattanooga, assisting children and adults with various special needs in playing baseball. She is a huge animal lover
with three dogs and four guinea pigs and a huge Disney fan! Kennedi is very excited to be a part of the Ascending Scales Music Program!
Who can participate?
Everyone! Both music therapy and music lessons are available to anyone of any age or ability. Music therapy sessions are designed for individuals and groups who want to address non-musical goals such as communication, socialization, and emotional expression. Music lessons are designed to teach the participant to play an instrument of his/her choosing.
What does a typical music therapy session look like?
Because each music therapy session is individualized, no two music therapy sessions look the same. Usually, music therapy sessions will start with a hello or welcome song in order to establish a “start” of the session. Then the music therapist will provide a variety of interventions that may involve playing instruments, listening to music, composing songs and/or lyrics, improvising, talking about music, moving to music, or playing musical games. The sessions will usually conclude with a goodbye song in order to create a concise “end” to the session and help the client transition away from the music therapy session.
Do I have to play an instrument in order to participate in music therapy?
No! Music therapy sessions are individualized in order to address everyone's unique abilities and needs. If you’d like to learn how to play an instrument as part of your therapeutic work, that could be an option. Just know that in those situations the goal is not to learn the instrument, the goal is to build other non-music skills while learning an instrument.
What is the cost of each session?
Initial assessments are $85, and include up to an hour assessment with child and a 15 minute meeting with parent/guardian to discuss goals, objectives, and assessment results.
Individual Music Therapy (50 minutes): $70 per session
1/2 Hour Individual Music Therapy (30 minutes): $35 per session
Individual Adapted Lessons (60 minutes): $50 per lesson
1/2 Hour Individual Adapted Lessons (30 minutes): $25 per lesson
Group Music Therapy: To be determined...
How can I pay for these services?
All Ascending Scales music programs are private pay services.
Payment is required before services are rendered.
Payment options include weekly, monthly, or 2 months in advance either through check or PayPal. Discounts are offered to clients who pay at the beginning of each month or for 2 months of services.
Where do the sessions take place?
Ascending Scales has an office at the Chattanooga Autism Center (CAC), located at 1400 McCallie Avenue Chattanooga, TN.
Interested in starting your Ascending Scales experience?
Fill out this form and Kennedi will contact with you.
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