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Virginia Music Therapy Association (VMTA) 


VMTA has been an active advocate for music therapy in Virginia for over 25 years. VMTA hosted the American Music Therapy Association's Mid-Atlantic Region Conference in Richmond in 2008, welcoming Music Therapists from over seven states and Washington D.C. to the area to celebrate music therapy and provide continuing education opportunities.


VMTA meets twice annually at locations throughout the state. Meetings typically consist of a business meeting in the morning and continuing education courses ( for Continuing Music Therapy Education credits- CMTEs) in the afternoon. We encourage our members to establish connections with other therapists in their region and provide networking opportunities with Therapists working with similar populations. VMTA supports the music therapy students in our area and encourages participation in business meetings, networking, and educational opportunities.

Meet our VMTA Executive Board

Executive Board Member photos and descriptions below.


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Candace Deshler President 


Candace Deshler, MT-BC  lives and works in Richmond, VA, providing music therapy services at VCU Health to pediatric and adult medical patients with a variety of diagnoses. She completed training with the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, and practices Neurologic Music Therapy techniques to help patients restore and maintain physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.  She has also served on the Executive Board as the Student Liaison. 

Miriam Smith 

Past President

Miriam Smith, MT-BC, is the VMTA Past-President after serving two terms as President. She is the CEO of Commonwealth Music Therapy
and practices within the Greater Richmond Area. She is passionate about providing quality services to those in need and advocating for our profession. She is active in the community
through volunteer work and enjoys spending her time off playing ukulele
and hiking.


Hannah Girdley

Vice President

Hannah Girdley, MT-BC, has experience providing music therapy and adaptive services in medical health, forensic mental health, and developmental disabilities. She resides in Gloucester, VA and is an advocate for music therapy and healthcare awareness in her community. As the VMTA Vice President, Hannah looks forward to serving the diverse needs of music therapists throughout Virginia.

Kelsi Yingling

 Recording Secretary

Kelsi Yingling, M.S. Ed., MT-BC, is the founder and owner of NeuroSound Music Therapy, a private practice serving a variety of individuals, groups, and facilities in the Northern Virginia area. Kelsi also serves as a full-time special education teacher for a self-contained autism program at a high school in Loudoun County, VA. Kelsi is passionate about providing and expanding quality, client-centered music therapy services in her area and she is an avid advocate for this profession. 

Nicole Drozd

Corresponding Secretary

Nicole Drozd, MS, MT-BC, is the founder and owner of Heart Song Music
Therapy, a private practice that provides programs and services to
individuals, organizations, and facilities in and around Norfolk,VA. She is active in the local music therapy community and is passionate about
expanding music therapy services and advocacy in the

Sarah Ware 



Sarah Ware, MMT, MT-BC has been practicing music therapy for nearly a decade.  In 2011, she began working with adolescent clients at the Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA) in Rockville, MD. Sarah
specializes in working with adolescent clients who have emotional and behavioral disorders by using a
strengths-based approach, and integrating humanistic, cognitive, and behavioral theories. She has received both her bachelors and masters degree in

music therapy. 

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Briana Priester

 VASTF Liaison 


Briana R. Priester, MT-BC currently serves as the government relations chair and task force liaison for the Virginia Music Therapy Association, & as reimbursement chair for The Mid-Atlantic Region of The American Music Therapy Association. Briana works in Harrisonburg as adjunct faculty at James Madison University, and in private practice, Studio B Music for Living, LLC.

Christina Strasburg

 Public Relations

Christina Strasburg, MT-BC has been a practicing Music Therapist  in the Richmond Area for the past three years. She works as a contracted Music Therapist for Noah’s Children Pediatric Hospice. Training includes Workshops for Music Together  & Music Therapy Assisted Child-Birth. She is an active member of West End Toastmasters for leadership and public speaking to effectively spread news about Music Therapy! 

Amy Loudin

Student Liaison 

Amy Loudin, MT-BC, works in Springfield and throughout Northern Virginia, specializing in music therapy for older adults. She holds bachelors degrees in music and sociology from George Mason University, and completed her graduate-level music therapy training at Shenandoah University. She enjoys playing trombone in the Piedmont Symphony and the Silver Tones Swing Band.

Adele Gleixner 

Student Representative for Radford University


Adele Gleixner is a student Music Therapist studying at Radford University.  She is the Secretary of the Music Therapy Student 
Organization of Radford University (MTSORU) and was selected to perform in the Spring 2016 Honor's Recital.  Adele was awarded the 2015/2016 VMTA scholarship, the Jason Rooker Memorial Music Therapy Scholarship and has a current placement on the Fall 2014 and 2015 Dean's List.  She is in the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. 

Alyssa Selin


 Representative for Shenandoah University


Alyssa Selin studied vocal performance at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts High School in Hagerstown, Maryland. She is currently a Music Therapy student studying at Shenandoah University. She participates in Chimers, an organization led by Music Therapy students who teach adults with developmental
disabilities how to play tone chimes. She is the Treasurer of the
Shenandoah University Music Therapy Association (SUMTA) and a MARAMTS chapter representative. Alyssa is also a member of Sigma
Alpha Iota, an international women’s music fraternity.