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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Music

Kentuckians in Music

Music Therapist Lorinda Jones
Rineyville, KY

Who Lorinda Jones is a nationally recognized performing and recording artist, teacher, and board-certified music therapist. She specializes in Celtic and American traditional music, and her performances feature the Celtic harp, mountain dulcimer, and tin whistle along with a variety of other folk instruments. Her musical interests encompass the roots of American music, from the ancient harp tunes of Ireland and Scotland to American mountain music, bluegrass, ragtime, and gospel. Lorinda is also the artistic director of two community-based music groups, the Heartland Dulcimer Club and the Harps of Life Harp Ensemble. As a music therapist, she is the owner of Music Therapy Service of Central Kentucky, providing contract services for children and adults with developmental disabilities. Lorinda has produced numerous books and CD recordings, which are sold throughout the state and across the country.

Influences “It’s difficult to recall my first musical memory because I grew up with music around me from birth. I do recall seeing and hearing my older sister play piano, both at home and church. I thought it sounded so great and that I wanted to do that some day. My dad was often the song leader at church, so I saw him as a director as well as simply enjoying making music at home on the piano, harmonica, or singing. My grandparents led sing-along at family gatherings, and it seemed everyone on that side of the family sang and played some kind of instrument.

“I was most fortunate to have had great music teachers in our small community. My piano teacher for ten years not only taught me how to read music, but also helped me with music theory and playing my own arrangements. My band teacher at school was also very influential, as she decided I should play the oboe in band. She made sure I had a teacher and also volunteered to take me to out-of-town opportunities and auditions.

“With my music background and my love for music, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to pursue as a career other than music. Initially I went to school as a music major to perform, but soon became interested in a career teaching music. It wasn’t until I had taught ten years in public schools that I learned about music therapy as a career. When I explored the career further, I knew that it was what I should be doing.

“After beginning my teaching career, I became interested in folk music. I have been strongly influenced by the musicians I have met at the folk festivals. I love the pure enjoyment they get out of their music and their willingness to share that love. I am drawn to those musicians who are not in it for fame or fortune, but for the pure love of what they do.”

What “I work with children and adults who have mental, emotional, and/or physical disabilities. My work with young students is in a public school setting. While some of my adult clients still live at home, many live in group homes designed for individuals with disabilities.

“The biggest challenge is probably working with individuals who cannot communicate with you through speech, so you must look for other clues to know what they need and how best to help them. Each individual has different needs, so it is important to be well educated on the different types of disabilities and how to effectively work with each one. Sometimes progress is very slow, so a therapist may have to try many different approaches before finding one that yields results.”

When “I have worked in a variety of settings with my music therapy degree, but the most recent has been contracting with schools. When the school calendar starts, I set up a schedule to see the students or individuals with whom I have been contracted to work. I work through the special education department, so most of my students are in self-contained classrooms and have moderate to severe disabilities. I move around from school to school, carrying my instruments and supplies with me and generally working during the school hours. I also do some private teaching after school hours at a music store and some performing on the weekends, so between the three areas, I stay very busy.”

How “I own a variety of stringed and percussion instruments, and some school districts also supply other manipulatives, or hands-on instructional tools such as bean bags, parachutes, xylophones, scarves, and specialty instruments. I have also made some of my own instruments from gourds, and I especially like using these with my clients. Over the years I have accumulated a lot of song material and books to help me with my planning and song ideas.”

Why “When a person makes a connection for the first time, there is a special bond that forms and is very rewarding. Watching a group transform from mad, angry, and/or upset to happy, smiling, and getting along with each other is a great feeling. Using music in a way that helps other people feel good, learn something about themselves, and open up communication is most rewarding.”

Getting There “The first step to becoming a music therapist is to audition with a school of music that has a degree program in music therapy. The audition consists of playing in front of music faculty on the instrument that is to become a major instrument of study, including woodwind, brass, keyboard, strings, or voice. Once admitted to the school of music, the degree program takes a minimum of four years’ college study. It is highly advisable that a person observe a professional music therapist in order to know if this particular course of study is comfortable for that individual.

“A music therapist needs to like working with people; feel comfortable initiating conversation with someone new; and be willing to help those who may be angry, hurting, or in denial. Of course, a music therapist needs to be a musician and to feel very comfortable with making music so that the focus of their work can be helping others. A therapist needs to be patient and allow progress to happen slowly over an undetermined amount of time.

“Be patient and set baby steps as your goals toward reaching your career choice. Prepare as much as possible by reading, observing, and making lots of music with family and friends.”


600 Cooper Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 (859) 258-7000 (800) 432-0951