Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Music Therapist and Musician: Madeline’s Monthly Musical Tips Blog/Article for October 2016

October 2016 is the tenth Anniversary of “Madeline’s Monthly Musical Tips Blog/Article” and the ninth Anniversary of “Madeline’s One Minute Musical Radio Show”. This month our Radio Show and blog celebrates the life and work of Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Music Therapist and musician.

Playing classical music in the background of classrooms, in hallways of schools, and on school buses can lead to a stress free environment for students. Also included are several “First Days of School and Classroom Management Articles” by Harry K. & Rosemary Wong. Our article of the month is “Never Assume Anything” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM.

Radio Show feature question for October 2016: How does Classical music play a part of Dr. Concetta “Connie” Tomaino’s life as a music therapist and what musical instruments does she play?


Our January 2016 Blog & Radio Show celebrated the extraordinary life and work of Dr. Oliver Sacks. In Dr. Sacks ‘s December 31, 1997 letter to me he wrote, “I have been very much for music and music therapy, as you know, ever since I first encountered my Awakening patients in 1966” and my closest colleague, and far more active than I in the matter, is Connie Tomaino at Beth Abraham…” This is when I first heard about the remarkable work of Dr. Concetta Tomaino.

Concetta Tomaino was born on July 30, 1954 in New York. At a young age she began to play the trumpet and later also played the guitar, piano and accordion. She is the first of her family to go to college. Dr. Tomaino graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook earning a BA in Music Performance minoring in psychology and sciences. From New York University at Stony Brook she earned her Masters and Doctor of Arts in Music Therapy. In 1980 she began working in New York for Beth Abraham Family of Health Services.


When Concetta Tomaino began her music therapy clinical internship in Brooklyn at a nursing home in 1978 she said, “Practically no scientist was doing evidence-based research on using music to heal. She would be one of the first.” http://womensvoicesforchange.org/concetta-tomaino-and-the-healing-power-of-music.htm

She went on to say, “At the time, all that people thought about music therapy was that it could be used to engage people, to help them socialize. I was working with people with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease. They were non-responsive or very agitated and not connected to anything in their environment. And yet, when familiar music was played to them, they showed recognition – some sang the words. Working with these people demonstrated to me that there was something about music that connected to people who seemed to have no cognitive function left. That’s what started me on this quest to understand how music can access and preserve function in people who seem to have lost it.”

In 1980 she began working as a staff music therapist in Bronx, New York’s Beth Abraham Hospital, a rehab and nursing hospital.

Dr. Tomaino said in 1980, “the theory in brain science was that once the brain was damaged, it was damaged forever; whatever function was lost was lost forever.” She discovered as she worked with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and traumatic brain injury patients that, “they were minimally responsive, but with music therapy they started speaking and coming back to life and connecting, showing that functionality was still present.”


Dr. Tomaino said, “When I came to Beth Abraham in 1980, Oliver Sacks was the attending neurologist and had been asking similar questions about the postencephalitic patients he wrote about in Awakenings, wondering how music and arts affected people who’d lost brain function through disease or trauma. And so we sought each other out and became good friends. We worked together, him using music to test patients and me clinically applying music to help people recover or improve function. Both of us realized that there was something important going on here, and in the mid-1980s, we began seeking out scientists who could help us study the effects of music on brain function. In 1985, Oliver’s book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat became popular, and I was president of the American Association for Music Therapy. Our administration took notice of the attention both Oliver and I were receiving from the media and asked whether there was something they could help us do to expand upon our ideas. And so the Institute was formed as a center dedicated to studying music and brain and bridging the clinical and neuroscience communities.” (medscape.com article 773401)

So how does Dr. Tomaino work with patients with Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson’s disease?

Dr. Concetta Tomaino, “I either have my accordion with me , or , if I’m seeing someone for the first time, I may have an iPad with lots of music on it. Say I’m working with somebody with Alzheimer’s disease. I want to explore their ability to recognize and respond to music that they would know. …it’s important to choose the particular music the patient likes. ..In all the situations, I am actively engaging the patient to respond, not just having them passively listen.  I ask them how it felt  . . .  I’m trying to engage them in making music with me.”

…“ If it’s someone who had a recent traumatic brain injury who is minimally responsive, I’ve seen such a patient wake up and regain consciousness by having familiar music played at the bedside.

Seeing somebody wake up and talk is amazing; even doctors know that the auditory system is connected to deep brain mechanisms, so we are able to stimulate arousal at the end of consciousness because of the emotionally charged sound. With Parkinson’s patients who have lost their ability to speak, a music therapist will encourage humming, to prevent atrophy of the vocal folds. To help Parkinson’s patients improve their gait—since they may not perceive the beat the way the rest of us do—the MT will manipulate the beat until the patient can feel the rhythm.”


In 2006 Dr. Concetta Tomaino and Dr. Oliver Sacks were presented with “the Music Has Power Award.” Dustin Hoffman presented the award to them.

Dr. Tomaino is a professor at “ the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the ATTP II team of the National Parkinson’s Foundation, and the New York State Geriatric Education Consortium. A founding board member of the International Association for Music and Medicine; Dr. Tomaino was a Super Panelist for the GRAMMY in the Schools program and has served on the Certification Board of Music Therapists, the Journal of Music Therapy, and on the advisory boards for the Center for Alternative Research at the Kessler Institute, and the International Journal of Arts Medicine.”


Dr. Concetta Tomaino has worked as a music therapist for over 38 years giving 1000s of patients the gift of music to heal them. http://womensvoicesforchange.org/concetta-tomaino-and-the-healing-power-of-music.htm

Connie Tomaino : Music Therapy Trailblazer ( Dec. 2011) Podcast:   http://amtapro.musictherapy.org/?p=781

“Active Music Therapy Beneficial in Parkinson’s Disease” (August 2, 2016) from the Doctorslounge.com. “Active music therapy has beneficial effects in Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published online July 26 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.”


“First Days of School and Classroom Management Articles” by Harry K. & Rosemary Wong


How Procedures Saved a Teacher’s Life” by Harry K. & Rosemary Wong


“Making Deals Is Ineffective” by Harry K. & Rosemary Wong



Never Assume Anything!    by Madeline Frank,Ph.D, DTM

Do you make snap judgments or assumptions? Do you think emotionally or logically?

When I was fifteen, my family and I went to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina for a summer weekend. We stayed at the General Billy Mitchell Hotel with its wrap around porch with chairs in front of each motel room to sit and enjoy the beautiful view of the ocean.

One day after swimming, I decided to practice my violin for a while and my Mom went to sit on the porch to read and enjoy the breeze. It was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures around 82 degrees.

As I was practicing our neighbors walked by my Mom and commented on the beautiful music coming from our hotel room. They said to my Mom, “The music coming from your hotel room is just lovely!”

“Mom smiled at them and said “thank you!”

A few hours latter the same neighbors walked by with a pained expression on their faces and said to my Mom, “What happened to the beautiful music?”

Mom started laughing and said to the neighbors, “I have two daughters, a fifteen year old who is a gifted violinist who was practicing two hours ago and a 5 year old who you just heard, who started learning the violin two weeks ago!”

Have you ever jumped to the wrong conclusion about someone else? Have you ever assumed something about someone that was not true?

Don’t think emotionally. Don’t jump to conclusions. Always look deeper and get all the facts before you make a decision or say anything that can harm someone else or yourself.

A businesswoman was at a large airport waiting for her flight when she purchased a package of cookies at the store. She went to sit in the lounge with her cookies and her newspaper to wait for her flight to be called.

A few minutes later a well-dressed gentleman sat down beside her and she heard a crackling sound. He was taking one of her cookies and proceeded to eat the cookie. She gave him a dirty look and reached in and took a cookie for herself. The gentleman continued taking the cookies until there was only one left. He broke the last cookie in half, eat it, and moved the other half in her direction. He smiled getting up and leaving as his flight had been called. The businesswomen eat the other half of the cookie with a scowl on her face!

A few minutes later, her flight was called and she reached into her purse for her ticket and found her bag of unopened cookies. She was shocked and upset with herself!

Did you assume that the cookies were the businesswoman’s? I thought so too!

Have you ever made a wrong assumption that was not true about another person? Have you ever jumped to the wrong conclusion?

Don’t think emotionally. Never assume anything. Instead look deeper and get all the facts before you making a decision.

As a young bride in NYC, I opened our apartment closet to put away a few items and found three, 6-foot duffle bags taking up all the closet space.

The night before, I had watched a very scary movie so as I got closer to the bags I was looking closely at them.

I noticed three things.

1) Nothing moved in the bags.

2) There was no strong odor coming from the bags.

3) There were no bugs or blood dripping down from the bags.

So far so good!

“From these facts I decided there was not a dead body in our closet!

I quickly called my new husband, “so as not to invade his property.”

I asked him, “What are in the three, 6 ft. duffel bags in our closet?

My husband said, “They are laundry bags. Instead of washing the clothes, to save time, I bought new ones!”

I replied, “Oh”.

On my next day off from work, I began tackling his laundry bags!

As you first listened to the story of the “3 Six Foot Duffle Bags in the Closet”, were you intrigued wanting to know more? Did you automatically make any assumptions?

What are the three questions you should ask yourself instead of assuming anything?

1) Are you thinking emotionally or are you thinking rationally? Remember we are emotional creatures and that’s how we think at first.

2) What facts have been presented to you?

3) Have you verified the facts so you can think logically and clearly to make a good decision?

Remember to ask yourself these three questions; so you will “never assume anything”, making snap judgments that can hurt someone else! © 2016 Madeline Frank

Contact Madeline Frank for your next speaking engagement at [email protected]

“The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is now available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook:

com(Kindle) Barnes and Noble(Nook) iTunes


“Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is now available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook. 


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Tips on how to use “Musical Notes On Math”


Madeline’s Midnight Melodies- Music From around the World” . This CD complements her books with a blend of dance music, gigues, tangos, ballet and favorites including “Danny Boy”, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” and others. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” is music to relax by and to move by for music therapy. ”Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” CD is now available for purchase by downloading a song, downloading the album, or by CD by clicking below: Download Your Copy Today!

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Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is now available through amazon.com Click on the following link to order your copy of “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available as an e-book on Kindle or in book form. Click on the following link:


For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker and concert artist. She has found a scientific link between studying and/or listening to musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2016 Madeline Frank.