2024 Conference Recap

Dear friends and colleagues,
Thank you to all of you who attended our Spring conference on March 7-9, 2024, at the Hotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island!
We are delighted to report that we had 181 attendees, and offered 28 concurrent sessions and 7 CMTE courses. We also had 6 vendors and 2 sponsors! The conference was planned and implemented by Vice President Mary Reinsch and Vice President-Elect Emily Hawley, with early support from Nancy Skaliotis-Perkins and Kathlynn Sell, and we received an enormous amount of positive feedback from registrants about course content and the energy of presenters. If you missed our General Membership Meeting on Friday, March 8th, our draft minutes can be found here
There are a number of takeaways from the experience, and I thought I’d share them here in case they inspire, comfort, or educate you, whether or not you were able to attend.
NER-AMTAS board members facilitated an exciting and well-organized Opening Session which included a BINGO ice breaker, body percussion, a drumming and vocalizing exercise, and a vocal toning experience, all with around 80 participants. The students of our region also elected a new board, many of whom will replace graduating students. We will be updating our website shortly to reflect these changes. We also met with NER-AMTAS board members to discuss ways that the professional Executive Board can help support them individually, as they continue or take on leadership roles. Students from every music therapy program in New England were present (40 students attended)! 
Music therapists of every age and experience level were asked to share short stories and clinical experiences based on questions asked by Immediate Past President Brian Jantz, President-Elect Shannon Laine, and myself (President Wendy Krueger). In the latter half of the meeting, folks were asked what they want/need from AMTA and we received a number of different responses. The following are some of the ideas shared:
Potential for a conference student rate
Further membership support
Advocacy for higher pay
Licensure/reimbursement at state levels
Preparing students for actual clinical work within college programs
Revisiting Masters Level Entry discussions
Affinity group partnerships and outreach
The first item on our to do list following the conference was to reach out to music therapy Affinity Groups and Special Interest groups. I want to apologize to those I harmed at the conference by suggesting that such groups reach out to us for connection. I appreciated the opportunity to be called in by a few of you, and though the conversations weren’t easy, I truly feel that my mistake is an opportunity for growth and education for all of us, especially those of us who must unlearn our view of the world through privilege-colored glasses.  
We should be doing everything we can to make sure that every voice has the opportunity to be heard. While we want to hear from everyone who has something to say, we also realize that it’s unfair to expect marginalized music therapists to put in extra emotional labor, and that not everyone feels comfortable reaching out, so we need to do the leg-work to make sure the discourse is as inviting as possible. In light of these realizations, we have compiled a thorough list of existing Affinity Groups and Special Interest groups, and have begun connecting with the admins and leadership of these groups. We have added new Affinity Group links under the DEIAJ resource tab on our website, and will be doing more to fill the empty seats on the DEIAJ committee in the coming weeks. Please let us know if there is an Affinity Group you know of that isn’t listed, and we will add it immediately after reaching out to group contacts. We are also exploring avenues for DEI training and education, and are hoping to provide more closed spaces next year so marginalized music therapists feel as safe and supported as possible.
We are also currently exploring ways to address the other responses, particularly regarding membership support and a non-member student conference rate, since those are things we can control to some extent at the regional level. If you want to talk more with us about any of the other topics, please reach out to me at
This year, we rolled out a new initiative as a way to both enforce the conference code of conduct (which attendees were required to agree upon via Google form at registration), and also to provide additional emotional support to those who needed it. President-Elect Shannon Laine and I were on call from Thursday night to Saturday afternoon, and two colleagues with mental health counseling credentials volunteered to stand by in case their guidance or expertise were needed. Thankfully, the mental health volunteers did not need to be utilized, but the phone number we gave out was used by attendees for a variety of purposes, and we feel it was a successful pilot program, which we will facilitate (and improve upon) again next year!
Attendees were encouraged, throughout the conference, to fill out a 3-5 minute survey on preferred frequency and content of communication from NER leadership. Participants could Opt-in to a conference-specific raffle, for which three winners were drawn and announced at the Anna Maria Alumni Jam on Friday night.
While we aren’t offering a raffle going forward, we hope to hear from many more of you so we can best serve our constituents. Please take the survey and let us know what you think! It will be active until May 31st at this link.
At the General Membership Meeting (minutes are here) on March 8th, a number of awards were given.
The NER Presidential Service Award was given to Nancy Skaliotis-Perkins for her dedication to the NER conference experience for the last 14 years, and for her service to the region over a number of decades. Thank you, Nancy!
The NER Presidential Impact Award was given to Karen Wacks for her work training music therapists, and also creating opportunities globally for healing and community music therapy. Happy retirement, Karen!
A number of students were awarded membership scholarships by AMTA. By school, the students awarded were:
Berklee College of Music
Parvathy Menon
Alayah Tedder
Lesley University
Ying-Jung Chen
Trey Legall
Southern Connecticut State University
Alexis Sorrell
University of Rhode Island
Katelyn Belyea
Andrea Sims
Westfield State University
Tessa Cacioppo
Alianna LeClair 
Congratulations, students!
This year, we were able to lower conference rates by $30 on each tier, and will continue to focus on making our conferences more accessible each year. On that note, we are diligently working to find a conference venue for 2025 that works for our region’s size and personality, is accessible to students, and is financially feasible. Our covid-times hiatus from conferences disrupted the order we had been honoring regarding which states host, so we determined that if possible, the 2025 conference will be held in New Hampshire, but where and when are very much up in the air. Please stay tuned for more information! 
Thank you so much, and please keep in touch. 
Wendy Krueger, MA, MT-BC

President, NER-AMTA