Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How CODA MTS Came to Be

This post was inspired by music therapist & blogger, Rachel Rambach's post I Graduated...Now What?  In her post, she tells how she handled transitioning from her internship into a professional position by utilizing networking.  She also wrote, "Music therapists sometimes have to create their own jobs."  This was the case for me, so I thought it would be worthwhile to share the story of how CODA Music Therapy Services, LLC came to be.

I completed my music therapy internship at the UIC Medical Center at the end of September 2006.  I had certifications in both music therapy and music education, but - ideally - I wanted to return to my loved ones in Michigan and there were no suitable positions to be had.  So, I headed home, worked as a substitute teacher, and began sending out letters and e-mails to area Intermediate School Districts (ISDs) introducing myself, explaining music therapy, and proposing the implementation of music therapy services and/or adapted music education within their district.

Some districts replied that they already had music, some replied that they were not interested at this time, but, in December 2006, I got a reply from Ingham ISD wanting more information.  I arranged a meeting with the principal at Heartwood School, Marcia O'Brien.  She explained that they had been approached about music therapy in the past, but the special education directors had always turned it aside.  However, when my e-mail showed up, she was given the 'go ahead' to get more information.

In January 2007, I heard back from Marcia and found that her boss approved adding music therapy to the budget for the next school year (2007-08).  A month later - Valentine's Day, to be exact - I got a phone call from Marcia saying that they had received a parent request to have music therapy added to her child's IEP (IEP = Individualized Education Plan) and they would like to have me provide these services.

In March 2007, I started off providing 1/2 hour of music therapy two times per week for one student as a "temporary employee".  By the summer, I was offered a contracted position for the 2007-08 school year to service all thirteen (now fifteen!) classrooms with a combined music therapy and adapted music education program.  Success!

I worked closely with both Marcia and a human resources representative to develop my first contract.  The school was very concerned that my position meet the IRS criteria for a contracted position.  We determined that it would be most appropriate for me to establish my own company and for the school to contract with the company.

In July 2007, CODA Music Therapy Services, LLC became official.  For personal liability protection and my intentions to expand, I decided an LLC would suit my situation better than a sole proprietorship.  In the three and a half years since, our contract with Ingham ISD has grown, we have expanded to include contracts with other schools, contracts with hospitals, private pay clients, and - just this January - an inclusive early childhood music & movement program.  This is an exciting time for CODA MTS, as we look forward to the coming year and continue to expand our services throughout Michigan. 

CODA Music Therapy Services, LLC: Providing Creative Opportunities for Developing Abilities since 2007.


  1. Great story, Kellee! So glad you shared your testament to the fact that it is possible to create a successful music therapy job :) Keep up the excellent work!

  2. Again, thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Success! That's so cool! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. This was an interesting read! I may need to start a business myself in the future, so this post was really inspiring. Congrats on the job and business.