Music therapist Judith Pinkerton and Nevada State Senator Moises Denis talk about the complex process and interesting journey they followed for obtaining state licensure for music therapists. Their discussion provides inspiration for music therapists working for licensure in other states as well as helpful tips for successfully moving legislation through the process. This AMTA-Pro podcast ends on a surprising and inspiring musical note. More information about the process, a short video of the surprising musical note, and a copy of the Senate Bill – SB 190 – along with other helpful information is included in the text section of the podcast.


State Licensure for Music Therapy in Nevada

AMTA-Pro Podcast – February, 2012

Judith Pinkerton, MT-BC and Nevada State Senator Moises Dennis

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When music therapist Judith Pinkerton hosted a drum circle in the governor’s mansion, Nevada State Senator Moises Denis decided to show up, taking a break from his legislative duties and, just for fun, inviting his dad to come along. That experience was the first step in a rather long and winding legislative journey. In this podcast, Judith and Mo talk about the ups and downs of the process that eventually resulted in SB190 granting music therapists licensure in Nevada.

Interestingly, Senator Denis used music on the floor of the Senate and the Assembly to convince his fellow legislators of the potential of music therapy for impacting the lives of many people around the state. Judith wrote: “Take a look at the actual video from the NV Assembly performance. Sen Denis had recorded it on his iPad (he’s a computer tech in his day job) when the Nevada All State Choir sang it for the Senate in early April, then replayed it into a mike when he needed those crucial votes on April 26. As a wonderful aside: Mo’s daughter sang in this 2011 Nevada All State Choir and is now considering majoring in music therapy!”

Mo played only a segment in the short amount of time he had on the Senate floor during the last hour of the last day when the bill would have died. It only took that moment to remind the Senators what they heard and felt just a few weeks before that when they heard the high school choir sing. We needed 14 votes and got 15.

“Earth Song” by Techelli performed by Nevada All State Choir in Nevada Assembly April, 2012

Historical Moment – Signing SB190 on April 26, 2011

(L-R) Manal Toppozada, Senator Moises Denis, Governor Brian Sandoval, Judith Pinkerton, Diane Bell

AMTA-Pro Podcast Speaker Bios

Nevada Senator Moises Denis, a computer professional and Senate Assistant Majority Whip in 2011, was first elected to the Nevada Assembly in November 2004 and to the Nevada Senate in November 2010, serving six special sessions and four regular sessions. His interest in music runs in the family. Mo has a bachelor’s degree in music from Brigham Young University, and his wife and five children are all involved in various aspects of music. He is an active community volunteer and dedicated legislator. Mo was a speaker at the 2011 AMTA National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia and spent time during the conference visiting with professional music therapists, interns, and students from around the country.

Judith Pinkerton’s passion for music therapy was ignited in Alaska when her solo violin music replaced medication post-surgery in a hospital.  She developed the Music 4 Life® wellness system of music medicine training programs and products in the trenches of Las Vegas, which are expanding to the new frontier of online telemedicine.  As a clinic director, speaker, author, recording artist, instructor, internship director and licensed board-certified music therapist, Judith’s entrepreneurial spirit is forging a new business model working with music therapists across the U.S.A.  Seeing the need to help Las Vegans cope with her city being #1 for stress, unemployment and foreclosures, Music 4 Life® is also multiplying positive effects with a recreation music center featuring drum circles in partnership with Remo, Inc.

Over a period of twenty years, Judith founded the Center for Creative Therapeutic Arts and managed a team of therapists and interns serving children, adolescents, adults and elderly in Nevada with her leadership resulting in major state grants and Nevada’s music therapy licensure. She has performed on violin with symphonies from Switzerland to Alaska as well as dozens of stars on the Las Vegas strip, including Metallica, Barry Manilow, Natalie Cole and Andrea Bocelli. As co-founder of the International Foundation for the Healing Arts, based in California, Judith also serves her professional association as President-Elect and Chair of the Nevada Government Relations Task Force for the Western Region Chapter of the American Music Therapy Association. Judith recently chaired Las Vegas’ only music therapy conference, attracting music therapists from across the country, Australia, England and Spain. As adjunct faculty, she taught the only music therapy course at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which resulted in three students re-locating to Oregon, Massachusetts and Montreal to finish their music therapy degrees. You can contact Judith through

View .pdf of the bill

Senator Denis’s vita