Music Therapy for children with special needs

Please help me launch the first-ever music therapy program for school children with special needs in Ventura County.

Hello, my name is JAB – short for njabulo, the Swazi word for “Joy,” a name given to me by a Swaziland elder in Africa nearly thirty years ago. Née Brett Cripe, I’ve been a musician, composer and educator my entire life. A member of many well-known West Coast bands, I’ve played concert halls and clubs across the U.S. and Europe. As a recording artist, my interviews and compositions have been broadcast worldwide. I studied music at Indiana University and North Texas with many remarkable teachers, capped by a master’s degree in composition at the University of Redlands (CA) under maverick composer and educator Barney Childs, a protégé of Aaron Copland.

Being a professional dedicated musician and composer has frequently been a struggle; so in 1992 I began using the power of music to support myself as an educator, while helping young people better their lives, working as Director of Music at Jukola, a school to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents and abused and at-risk youth in Finland. In 2012, after decades of conducting music workshops at youth shelters and music schools across the U.S., I made the decision to get an official credential through University of Kentucky's graduate program in music therapy. After completing a 1,200 hour internship working with children with special needs in the public schools of Lexington, KY and Appalachia, I became a nationally accredited board-certified music therapist (MT-BC) in 2017.

I moved to Ventura County in southern California in October 2017, with the prospect of bringing vital music therapy (MT) services to this underserved area. Despite leading many rec, library and senior center group sessions, directing programs in several mental health centers, and providing 1:1 sessions to clients with dementia, bi-polar disorder and other social and mental issues, it has been a long ramp up and I’ve barely scraped by here so far. But, after almost two years of “intense courtship” explaining to the educational hierarchy the multi-faceted benefits of MT to struggling students – through innumerable letters, e-mails, meetings and phone calls – I have convinced the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) to add music therapy as a “related service” for all its students who struggle due to special needs. No public schools in this county have offered this service before and I am honored to have opened the doors for an amenity that will benefit countless young people going forward.

However, there are a number of costly VUSD-mandated fees required to launch this program – filing fees, procedural red-tape documents, medical testing and liability insurance, to name a few – which I currently can’t cover out of pocket. I have never done crowd-sourced fundraising before but I need your assistance so that I can begin this work as soon as possible – and the school year has just begun. Your aid will enable me to pay these clearance fees to lead the first-ever MT program in the school district, but the ultimate payoff for your contributions will be bringing the invaluable gift of music therapy to extraordinary but struggling children to enable them to thrive and flourish. I am a passionate champion of music therapy. Through the decades I have seen it work wonders for all ages and conditions of people. Additional great news is that once this program is launched at VUSD, there are mandated state and federal funding mechanisms in place to pay for MT services for any and all students who qualify for and need this vital therapy.

Thank you for taking your valuable time to read my appeal, and for your thoughtfulness if you are able to respond further. To contact me and to read more about my MT work and music career, please visit my very robust websites:

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Jab Dlamini 
Oak View, CA
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