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Note-Able Music Therapy Services expands its reach

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By Nora Heston Tarte

When Khyree was 10 years old, his grandmother enrolled him in music classes through Note-Able Music Therapy Services, a non-profit music therapy organization in northern Nevada that provides one-on-one and group music therapy for people of all ages and abilities. Now 24, Khyree has learned over the past 14 years how to play instruments, write lyrics, memorize music and make friends.

“I like to drum and play the piano,” Khyree said. “People like my smile.”

What started as a music class in 1999 has expanded over the years, landing in a new, 17,000-square-foot facility set on three acres in 2022. Services include both adaptive music classes and certified music therapy courses. The first typically involves a musical goal, while the second is rooted in cognitive, mental, physical and emotional goals, using music as the vehicle to get there.

“In adaptive lessons we’re also not working on getting people to Carnegie Hall,” Nate Eng, the marketing coordinator and a music instructor for Note-Able, said. There’s simply some level of proficiency tailored to the individual student whether that’s learning to play a specific song or instrument or getting more comfortable on stage.

“Music really can connect on so many different dimensions,” Eng said. Socially students are getting out of their homes and meeting with others. “They are talking to people, they are interacting and they are learning those social skills… that can only be developed in groups,” he said.

“Music is this really weird medium because it is everywhere,” Manal Toppozada said. She’s the nonprofit’s executive director and a certified music therapist. “We as humans are musical beings.” 

This very fact is what makes music therapy so effective, she added—music is ingrained in everyone in one way or another.

Students at Note-Able range from children with anxiety to adults with Alzheimer’s, including everyone in between. The group offers both group and one-on-one classes with instructors. Every year there is a recital where students get to share what they’ve learned with family, friends and the community, which plays a large role in boosting student confidence.

“It’s about the confidence and the social skills and the feeling good about yourself,” Toppozada said of Note-Able overall.

Eng added not only has Khyree impressed him musically, playing songs from memory, he’s also grown more comfortable on stage. The first recital he attended Khyree was nervous. Now Khyree said he loves being on stage. 

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Khyree, right, a client of Note-able Music Therapy Services, with one of his instructors, Nate Eng. Image: NoteAble Music Therapy.

“I just always really appreciate seeing Khyree smile and getting his expression across,” Eng said. “What I love the most is seeing him get really passionate or get lost in music.”

Khyree’s grandmother, Phyllis, with whom he lives, says his love of music translates at home, too. He gets excited to play the piano and often plays the same chords over and over until he gets it just right. When they are watching television together, Khyree dances along with the music. “He gets excited when he’s playing,” she said. “He plays a lot at home.” 

Another perk Phyllis has noticed since Khyree got involved with Note-Able is the friendships he’s made, friendships that have grown even outside of the music facility.

Because a lot of Khyree’s family, including his sister, live out of state, Phyllis uses social media to share Khyree’s progress and performances. “Khyree kind of feels like a rockstar because people are watching him on social media,” she laughs.

Before moving to its current location in July, Note-Able was located in the McKinley Arts & Culture Center. At the time, they served 1,500 students. According to projections, the new facility will serve 5,000 students by 2026 as they continue to refurbish rooms and expand. “If people haven’t heard of us by now, they will,” Toppozada said with confidence.

Not only does Note-Able work to serve the local community, but the goal is also to become a national model for regional centers for music and health across the globe. 

“Every single person in our community can and will be able to benefit from music therapy,” Toppozada said, adding that Note-Able isn’t a disability center. “We want it to be a place where everyone comes together.”

While the Note-Able facility undergoes more expansion, social media is one way the community can connect. Through shared reels, stories and posts, followers can see firsthand the impact Note-Able is able to make. In addition, the organization also uses online tools to share tours of the facility, make music lessons more accessible, keep the community up to date through event listings and fundraise, which is a really important avenue or revenue for the nonprofit. 

It’s all part of the organization’s mission “to create lasting change in the lives of people of all abilities through music.”

For more information, or to learn how to get involved, donate or sign up for a class, visit nmtsreno.org.

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