OUR ESTEEMED MUSIC THERAPY ADVISORY BOARD
Susan Mehall, MT-BC, Board Certified Music Therapist, UC Davis Children’s Hospital of Sacremento, CA earned her undergraduate degree in Music Therapy and Psychology at the University of Miami. Continuing her education, Susan earned certifications as Neurological Music Therapist from The Academy of Neurological Music Therapy (Colorado Springs, CO) and as Certified Neonatal Music Therapist from The National Institute for Infant and Child Medical Music Therapy (Tallahassee, FL). After fulfilling her internship at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, Susan joined the music therapy team at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital/Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI. During her seven years at C.S. Mott, and in her current position at UC Davis, Susan takes special joy in fusing together her music therapy and songwriting skills to help her patients compose and record songs and videos.
An active speaker, writer, and advocate, Susan has been featured at the Great Lakes Regional Music Therapy Conferences, delivering presentations on “Staying In-Synch: Utilizing Music Therapy for Those Left Behind; “Voicing Words Unspoken: Songwriting with Female Adolescents with Terminal Illness;” and “All About Dialysis: Music Therapy Unites Patients and Staff in Pediatric Nephrology.”
Susan was honored to represent the C.S. Mott Heartbeat Recording Program on WDIV (NBC) News and on BTN Live Michigan, introducing the hospital’s pre-and-post heartbeat recording program for heart transplant patients. Among her treasured experiences, Susan has been the designated music therapist for C.S. Mott’s memorial events for families of patients who have died, including Walk to Remember for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Stephanie Epstein, MM, MT-BC, Board Certified Music Therapist. In 2014, Stephanie established the music therapy program at Holtz Children’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial in Miami, FL, where she is the lead music therapist as well as the internship and practicum director. Born and raised in upstate New York, she received her Bachelor of Music in Music Therapy and Music Education from Nazareth College (Rochester, NY) and Master of Music in Music Therapy from the University of Miami (Miami, FL). She is a delegate of the American Music Therapy Association’s Pediatric Work Group and is President of the Ukulele Kids Club. The UKC is a 501c(3) nonprofit with the mission of transforming lives through music through the donation of ukuleles to pediatric music therapy programs and supporting the field of music therapy.
Stephanie has been featured in numerous regional and national news outlets, including NBC Nightly News, US News and World Report, and Ready Set Production’s Modern Heroes. She frequently presents at regional and national music therapy, nursing, and medical conferences, and has guest lectured at numerous colleges and universities.
Stephanie is a passionate advocate for the benefits of music therapy and for sharing the healing joys of music with pediatric children and their families. We’re most honored to welcome Stephanie as an invaluable member of our Music Therapy Advisory Board for the Dick Wagner “Remember the Child” Fund.
Ali McManus, Singer, Songwriter, Motivational Speaker: When you hear Ali McManus’s dynamic vocals, you’d be surprised to know her lung capacity is only 30%. Born 3 months premature and weighing 2lbs 7oz at birth, she was given a 50/50 chance to live. A rare bone disorder has left Ali in a wheelchair since the age of 7. But the Detroit-born singer/songwriter has beaten the odds. She tells us, “I don’t see myself as a person in a wheelchair. I see myself as a regular person who just happens to sit down all day.”
It was during her many months and years in and out of Shriners Hospital in St. Louis that Ali found her passion for music. Writing songs, learning piano and guitar. and performing for patients, staff and dignitaries, Ali discovered the power of music to heal and inspire.
Legendary producer Jack Douglas (John Lennon, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper) produced Ali’s debut album, Unbreakable. Jack says, “She’s a natural—a true artist with old soul sensibility and a powerful message to share with the world.”
Ali’s compelling talent and personal story inspired rock star Steven Tyler to appear in her exuberant music video Roll This Way—a joyful anthem that celebrates inclusion and diversity. In 2019, Ali was nominated for five Detroit Music Awards. In 2020, she was honored to guest star twice on CBS Television’s hit TV Show The Doctors, where she performed the title song from her album, Unbreakable. In her bonus career as Motivational Speaker, Ali shows us how to “Be Unbreakable.” She delivers her universal message of resilience and positivity to schools, charities, trade groups, and business executives. Ali McManus inspires us to live life without limits.
Trevor Sullivan: Youth Ambassador, Heart Transplant Patient” Music therapy and playing guitar in the hospital were the tapestry that helped me while waiting for my new heart.” When Trevor Sullivan saw the Dick Wagner “Remember the Child” Memorial Fund’s social media posts, he saw rock stars coming together to help bring music to hospitalized children. He immediately reached out, eager to share his own heartfelt story. Speaking to Victoria Woody, the non-profit’s Director of Development, Trevor shared how music therapy at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, had indelibly impacted his life. As Trevor says, “Music therapy & playing guitar in the hospital were the tapestry that helped me while waiting for my new heart.”
As Trevor circled in and out of the hospital, a certified child life services specialist referred Trevor for music therapy. It was a life-changing moment for Trevor when a Board-Certified Music Therapist walked into his room with her guitar. As Trevor tells us, “We kinda just clicked. She started teaching me the guitar, and I started teaching her about the music I love.”
Trevor spent nine months waiting for his new heart and honing his guitar skills. As music therapy sessions progressed, Trevor and the music therapist began to perform together at a weekly music night in the hospital’s Skyline Café. The Café provided an atmosphere of bonding and relaxation, where patients, families, and staff could enjoy the fun and healing distractions of music. Trevor also became a recipient of the Heartbeat Songs recording program. The program seeks to memorialize the patient’s heartbeat, as it exists in that moment of time. Using a stethoscope and microphone, Trevor’s original heartbeat was recorded to one of his favorite songs, “Sleep,” by A Chemical Romance. The song was a lyrical reflection of his current state of mind.
Late one night in November 2016, Trevor got the fantastic news that a heart had been found for him! Within days, the transplant was performed. To commemorate his new heartbeat in song, Trevor suggested “House of Gold,” by Twenty-One Pilots. The upbeat choice of music reflected Trevor’s restored mind and body.
Five years after his heart transplant, Trevor remains healthy and passionate about music. He plays guitar, collects vinyl rock records, and loves to attend concerts and discover new music. Trevor’s mom tells us, “Music is what got Trevor through it. Music helped Trevor to express his medical journey, and it also helped the family in immeasurable ways.” Trevor is excited to “Shout to the mountain tops that music therapy is just as important as all the doctors, tests & procedures.”