School of Music

USM School of Music to Hold Creative Arts Therapy Conference

The creative arts – music, visual art and dance -- have long been known to be healing forces in human existence. Through the presentation next month of a daylong conference, a well-known Portland musician and music therapist hopes to build both a regional community of creative arts therapists and an increased awareness of the positive, healing effects of the creative arts on human illness. 

With the support of the USM School of Music, Kate Beever, board-certified music therapist, USM graduate and prominent percussionist and keyboardist, is organizing a conference titled, “Creative Health: Conference for Healthcare Professionals and Caregivers,” scheduled for Saturday, May 31, at USM. 

“There are a lot of misconceptions about the arts therapies, but they are not controversial at all, and in recent years, they have gained a significant acceptance within the range of healthcare options,” Beever said during an interview. “This conference will be an opportunity for the general public and professional healthcare providers to learn how arts therapies can complement and enhance traditional healthcare. It also will bring together creative arts therapists to network and become familiar with the variety of therapies available.” 

“The USM School of Music is excited to present our first-ever collaboration with the health care community,” said Alan Kaschub, School of Music interim director. “USM takes the work of supporting and engaging the community very seriously. The School of Music has long been active in the community with youth programs, lectures and well over 100 performances a year. I hope this conference represents a new chapter in the ways we can work with professionals in the community.”

The details of the conference are: 

  • “Creative Health: Conference for Healthcare Professionals and Caregivers”; A one-day conference for therapists, medical professionals and caregivers to learn about the uses of creative arts therapies in healthcare, presented by the University of Southern Maine School of Music and organized by Kate Beever, MA MT-BC; 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, May 31, Corthell Concert Hall, University of Southern Maine, Gorham Campus; Registration fee, $35 for professionals, caregivers and general public, $25 for students; Registration includes lunch and afternoon snack; Register at or call USM Music Box Office (207) 780-5555; FMI, go to

Beever is known as a percussionist and keyboardist with the Zach Jones Band, which plays in and around Portland. She graduated in 2007 with honors from the USM School of Music and then went on to study music therapy at New York University, graduating with her master’s degree. Beever is a board-certified music therapist with the American Music Therapy Association and provides therapy as Maine Music & Health. She has experience working with many populations including teens and adults with developmental disabilities, respiratory disorders, brain injuries, and oncology patients of all ages. 

Creative arts therapies come “under the umbrella of integrative medicine, along with other therapies such as massage, acupuncture and yoga,” Beever explained. “These therapies aren’t anything crazy,” she laughed, adding that the therapies are evidence-based. 

“Creative therapy is often a co-treatment along with physical, occupational or speech therapy,” Beever continued, adding that the qualified therapist has completed a course of education at an accredited school and is certified.

“The therapist does an assessment and sets cognitive, physical, social and emotional goals and objectives to meet non-artistic needs,” she emphasized. 

Beever had the idea a number of years ago about organizing such a conference and approached the USM School of Music about holding one for the area. The May conference will be appropriate for health care professionals, patients and family members, she said. 

“I also wanted to create a community between arts therapists because a lot of us don’t

know each other, and it’s also important to know what is available,” the music therapist said.

Conference participants will find session workshops in three modalities: art, dance and music, but can choose to attend any workshop. Sessions will focus on both adults and children, and some will focus on therapy uses that can be transferred to specific illnesses, Beever said.

Among the sessions offered, dance therapist Christine Linnehan of Scarborough will present “Creative Pathways to Resilience” for working with traumatized children; art therapist Bohdi Simpson of Yarmouth will present “Introduction to SoulCollage,” using collage-making to discover one’s subconscious; and music therapist Patricia Mulholland of Kennebunk will present “The Voice as a Therapeutic Modality,” involving singing and breathing for stress relief.

Beever said she was very pleased to be holding the conference at the USM School of Music, particularly for being able to offer an opportunity not only to the community but also to USM students.

“I’m really happy to be doing it here,” she said. “I feel connected and proud of my alma mater, and I feel I am giving back to the School of Music.”

For more information about the conference, go to 

For more information about Maine Music & Health, go to