Today and on the 25th of every month of 2012 I have invited 12 of the most influential people in my life to share a blog post with you!  Each has influenced me both professionally and personally. My hope is that the knowledge, kindness, creativity, and compassion they have shared with me will reflect through their post in a way that YOU will be encouraged, entertained, challenged and strengthened to continue to strive for excellence as a professional and as a person.

In March of 2010 I typed the phrase “tonechime scholarship” into my Google search engine and found a resource that forever changed my music therapy practice.  After a few clicks of the mouse, I came across the Handbell Musicians of America website (formerly named The American Guild of English Handbell Ringers) and stumbled upon their Handchime Grant Program. After a making few phone calls, emails, and filling out the grant application, I serendipitously found myself the caretaker of a 3-octave set of Malmark Handchimes for one academic year. Woohoo!!

Within a few weeks of having the chimes they became an integral part of my music therapy practice and I knew that I would have to save up for a set of my own before my yearly lease was up. Now you may know that handchimes (also known as tonechimes) are not cheap (the Suzuki and Malmark chromatic sets will run you $950 – $1050).  I was lucky to have found a good deal by word of mouth, but in retrospect I would have paid retail for the chimes. The therapeutic value they have provided has been worth every penny.

The therapeutic applications for handchimes in group work are endless.  One way that I utilize them is to explore all kinds of different tonalities during group improvisation.  Pentatonic is always a “go to” for so many interventions, but I also love exploring different modes (Dorian and Mixolydian are my faves), as well as the whole tone scale (great around Halloween), and middle eastern scales.  Throw in some rainsticks, an ocean drum, a thunder tube, and a bass drum, and you have a musical platform for drawing out an array of therapeutic goals.

The Handbell Musicians of America operates their loan program by regional districts. If you’re interested in applying for a set of chimes, check out your district’s site here to see if a hand chime loan is available and if you or your facility would qualify. You’ll notice that the loans are geared toward schools and churches. In my application I emphasized that the chimes would be used by populations who normally would not have access to hand chimes and that seemed to appeal to them.

If you’ve had experience with using handchimes in your music therapy practice, what has been one of your most worthwhile applications or activities?  Have you had any success in other creative funding sources for chimes?

In 2008 Meghan Callaghan drove westward from North Carolina to Utah and never looked back.  Currently residing in the high desert landscape of Flagstaff, AZ, she runs a private music therapy practice, Mountain Health Music, and directs the Flagstaff Threshold Choir – a volunteer women’s choir that sings in small groups at the bedside of those struggling with living or dying.