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School of Music visiting scholar with an ear for tech  

Michael Viega

In March, the School of Music welcomed, Michael Viega, a Music Therapy Board Certified and Licensed Creative Arts Therapist who has an ear for how digital music technologies, therapist competencies, and clinical intentions relate with one another in service to his patients.  

Ohio University graduate and undergraduate students as well as music therapy clinical supervisors from the Athens community joined the conversation online hosted by the School of Music’s Music Therapy program. Viega focused on how technology is used in music therapy sessions, specifically in telehealth and virtual sessions. He demonstrated a variety of software tools and methods therapist can use to make music with clients in the virtual space.  

Chair and Professor of Music Therapy, Kamile Geist, invited Viega to speak as part of the 2020-2021 College of Fine Arts’ Visiting Artists and Scholars Series. Geist says Viega’s expertise in the area was something she wanted students to learn owing to a need for discussion around telehealth due to COVID-19. Giest saw Viega’s presentation as timely and necessary to provide students with sustainable skills in their future practices. 

“Viega is a leader in music therapy across the United States and in the world,” says Geist. “His knowledge and skill with providing quality musical experiences through online platforms was timely during the innovative phase of music therapy service. Telehealth music therapy services will certainly continue [after the pandemic subsides], and it is important for us to value how we can continue to heal through music translated over an online medium.”  

Viega is a fellow in the Association of Music and Imagery and a member of the American Music Therapy Association Assembly Delegation. He has published and presented internationally on a wide range of topics including adolescent development and music therapy, therapeutic songwriting and digital technology, and arts-based research methodologies. Viega serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, and Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy and is the immediate past president of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Music Therapy Association.   

“Since the beginning on the pandemic, telehealth has become a primary feature in the day-to-day practice of many music therapist,” Viega says. “We are discovering that the relationships we have online are different from the relationships we have in person and learning how to navigate these is really important.” 

The Music Therapy program at Ohio University began in 1951 and is one of the oldest music therapy degree programs in the United States. Music therapy is a systematic application of music and other treatment methodologies by a trained music therapist to restore, maintain, or enhance the cognitive, socioemotional, and/or physical functioning of people of all ages with disabilities. Graduates of the program work at a wide range of facilities including hospitals, hospice, schools, and nursing homes.  

“Viega is a well-known music therapist who serves as a role model for my peers and me,” says Sydney Randall, who is studying Music Therapy, via email. “I now have the confidence to trust myself when creating music with technology because Viega is passionate about the idea that we should all trust ourselves when composing new music, whether through technology or physical instruments because ‘bad’ music does not exist.”

On Saturday, April 17 from 9:00 a.m. –3:00 p.m. via Zoom Board Certified Music Therapists (MT-BCs)  can earn 6 CMTE credits by attending a workshop hosted by Viega called Digital Soundscapes: Cultural and Imaginative Listening in Music Therapy. This workshop will focus on therapeutic strategies when listening and creating music using digital and online music technologies in music therapy. Participants will learn and apply techniques for engaging with soundscapes including imaginative and cultural listening practices. Experiential participation will include analyzing various electronic dance music styles and creating digital soundscapes using online music platforms. Clinical examples of how soundscape was considered when creating music with children in pediatrics will be provided.

The cost is $50. University students and faculty can attend at no cost. Register here.