Music therapists, educators to share insights at conference

Nationally noted music therapist Deforia Lane (pictured above) is among six
Nationally noted music therapist Deforia Lane (pictured above) is among six

July 9, 2009
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( ) A man burdened with a fear of needles listened to a bedside performance of a favorite song before pacemaker implantation surgery and calmly received injections that prepared him for the procedure. A four-year-old girl’s tears and anger over thrice daily blood drawings lessened when she played with musical instruments after the process.

In both cases, the patients derived relief from their anxieties thanks to the skill and compassion of music therapist Deforia Lane.

Lane, a nationally noted, award-winning music therapist with a music education doctorate from Case Western Reserve University, is one of six therapists and educators who will deliver talks on July 14 during a conference in Riverside titled “Music and the Brain.” The conference, organized by La Sierra University’s School of Education, will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the conference room of the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 11330 Pierce St.

Conference registration for “Music and the Brain” is $75 and includes lunch and course credit tuition for students. Special rates are available for full-time students. Early registration is recommended and can be conducted online at

The “Music and the Brain” event is part of the education school’s annual Summer Institute on Brain and Learning. The school offers the conferences each year as a goodwill gesture to the surrounding communities. It is a nonprofit venture. Registration fees cover the expenses of the event only.

Lane’s talk and video presentation, titled “Music as Medicine,” will discuss practical applications of music therapy and how it’s used with patients who have physical, emotional or mental challenges. She will share research and how music therapy benefits individuals at any sector of the lifespan, from unborn babies to those in the final stages of life.

Lane will also talk about her personal experience battling cancer, her use of music therapy to deal with the inherent stresses and how that background aids her work, “having walked a mile in patients’ shoes,” she said.

As a music therapist, Lane has designed programs for the mentally handicapped, abused children, geriatric clients, adult and pediatric cancer patients, the terminally ill and other groups. Her consulting work has included advisement for the National Department on Aging and the Ohio Department of Mental Health. National Public Radio, Cable News Network, Wall Street Journal TV and other mainstream news programs and publications have noted her work.

The conference lineup will also include presentations from the following music therapists and educators:

- Julie Guy and Angela Neve, co-founders of The Music Therapy Center of California in San Diego will give a talk titled “Music Therapy for Children with Autism and Special Needs.” Guy, who is the center’s vice president, holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree in flute performance from Central Washington University and a master’s degree in music therapy from Western Michigan University. She has completed advanced training in neurologic music therapy at the Center for Biomedical Research at Colorado State University. Neve, who is president of the music therapy center, received a BME/ music therapy from Wartburg College and also completed advanced training in neurologic music therapy at the Center for Biomedical Research. She is the phase 3 early intervention director for the Autism Tree Project Foundation in San Diego. She and Guy also work with the “Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse” DVD series for children with autism and have given presentations around the country for various organizations including the Autism Education Network and the American Music Therapy Association.

- Tiffany Wyndham, music therapy consultant, will give a multimedia presentation titled “Enhancing Quality of Life and Coping in Older Adults through Music Therapy.” Wyndham earned a bachelor’s of arts in music with a biology minor from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She completed master’s coursework in music therapy at Texas Woman’s University in Denton and a clinical internship at MusicWorx in San Diego. She currently subcontracts with music therapy agencies in San Diego and is expanding her practice, Music Therapy Solutions, into Orange County. She designs music therapy techniques to stimulate responses in cognitive, socio/emotional, spiritual and motor domains.

- Elvis Geneston, La Sierra University assistant physics professor, will give a talk titled “Brain- and Music-Wave Synchrony.” Geneston completed a Ph.D. in physics in December 2007 at the Center for Nonlinear Science, University of North Texas. He worked at the center as a researcher until May 2008 before accepting his current position at La Sierra.

- Carol Pawluk, music teacher and choir director at Loma Linda Academy in Loma Linda, will discuss “Mentoring Mind with Music.” Pawluk holds a Bachelor’s of Music degree in music education from La Sierra, then part of Loma Linda University. She has taught piano, recorder, ukulele, music reading and singing to hundreds of K-12 students. She uses innovative methods and educational games during instruction and has produced numerous musicals.

Lane has worked as a music therapist since 1976. She is an associate director and director of music therapy at Ireland Cancer Center, part of the Cleveland, Ohio-based University Hospitals system. Lane previously pursued a singing career and earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

During the 1980s, Lane used music to ease her own tensions while dealing with breast cancer. She listened to classical music at night, 60 to 80 beats per minute, to help her fall asleep. And she used this music to “allay anxiety when taking treatment and while sitting in radiation oncology waiting for the radiation tech to call my name,” she said. “I wrote songs to express my thoughts, feelings and hope for the future.”

One song, “We Can Cope,” she composed and recorded for the American Cancer Society.

She underwent cancer treatments and participated in a support group at the Ireland Cancer Center. She described her involvement with the group as “life-changing. It was there that I was inspired to ‘pay back’ and felt the irrepressible urge to share with the hospital staff who had helped me how music could benefit oncology patients,” Lane said. “I had a deep longing to say thank you in a way that would reach further than my words and hugs. I wanted to educate, equip and energize them to extend themselves beyond their medical expertise but I truly had no idea it would blossom into a fulltime job of a lifetime.”

Lane’s music therapy regimen sometimes incorporates additional elements to help reduce anxiety. Toward mitigating the male patient’s dread of needles, Lane discussed not only his music preferences, but also favorite scents that induce a calming effect and asked whether he would respond well to touch. “My questions related to the visceral, the auditory, the kinesthetic, the spiritual,” Lane said.

At 6 a.m. on the day of surgery, she brought a vial of forest-scented oil to his bedside -- a scent he requested -- placed some on a tissue and placed the tissue near his pillow. Using her Omnichord, a rectangular, touch-sensitive portable synthesizer, she played, hummed and sang the hymn, “There is a Balm in Gilead,” which the patient chose. Then, while the anesthesiologist injected the patient, Lane placed the patient’s other hand on the Omnichord. He strummed it, accompanying her as she sang a song he had led as a soloist in his church choir. “That needle inserted without the least bit of problem,” Lane said. “They went into the [operating room] with a much calmer patient.”


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)

  • Last update on  December 07, 2009