Music Therapists

Laurelle Cartwright, MMT, MT-BC, Music Therapy Clinic Director

Laurelle Cartwright has clinical experience working with preschoolers with speech and language impairments; youth with various intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and medical needs; and dialysis patients and older adults in hospice. Her love for music and desire to help people fuel her passion to use the innate therapeutic qualities of music to meet individuals’ physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and psychosocial needs while allowing them to be their authentic selves.

Cathy McKinney, PhD, MT-BC

Cathy McKinney is professor in music therapy. Dr. McKinney received a bachelor's degree with majors in psychology and music from Duke University before completing the Equivalency in music therapy at Western Michigan University. She received an interdisciplinary Master of Arts in music therapy from the University of Northern Colorado and a PhD from the University of Miami, where she was a University Doctoral Fellow. Dr. McKinney has extensive clinical experience across a wide range of populations, including adults with mental disorders, healthy adults, adults with medical conditions, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders, and older adults with dementia and other neurological conditions.

Christine Leist, PhD, MT-BC

A music therapist since 1993, Dr. Leist joined the Hayes School of Music faculty in 2000. Dr. Leist is professor of music therapy. She holds a Bachelor of Music in music therapy from The Florida State University, a Master of Music in music therapy from the University of Miami, and a PhD in Music Education with a Music Therapy Cognate from Michigan State University. Dr. Leist has completed additional training in Orff-Schulwerk and Neurologic Music Therapy. She has presented at regional and national music therapy conferences. Having provided clinical music therapy services primarily for adult and older adult populations, Dr. Leist has supervised pre-internship students across a wide variety of ages and populations. Her research interests include music therapy applications in neurorehabilitation and health-care settings.

Melody Schwantes, PhD, MT-BC

Melody Schwantes, associate professor of Music Therapy and director of graduate programs in music therapy, received her Bachelor of Music in music therapy, Bachelor of Arts in psychology, and Master of Music Therapy degree from ASU, and her PhD in music therapy from Aalborg University in Denmark. She has clinical experience working with individuals in rehabilitation and mental health settings, children with developmental delays, and older adults. Dr. Schwantes teaches and provides clinical supervision for music therapy students in the Hayes School of Music.

Katurah Christenbury, MMT, MT-BC

Katurah Christenbury, lecturer in the Music Therapy Program, specializes in working with children, teenagers, and young adults with emotional and behavioral disorders, with a concentration on victims and survivors of abuse. She received her Equivalency and Master of Music Therapy degree at ASU. Katurah worked for two years providing music therapy treatment at a facility for at-risk young adult males before beginning her work at the IHHS. She has also assisted in several workshops for caregivers of children with behavioral disorders, providing alternate forms of relaxation techniques to help limit destructive or harming behaviors. In addition to her private clients, Katurah is a lecturer in the Hayes School of Music and Fellow of the Association for Music and Imagery, a designation for therapists trained in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.

Laura Brown, PhD, MT-BC

Dr. Laura Brown is associate professor of music therapy and director of the undergraduate program in music therapy. Dr. Brown holds a Bachelor of Music Therapy degree and a Master of Music Therapy degree from Appalachian State University and a PhD in Music and Human Learning in the Butler School of Music at The University of Texas at Austin. Her clinical experiences include working with children and adults with disabilities in both private practice and public school settings. Dr. Brown’s primary research interests include music therapy with children with autism and inclusive music practices in school settings. She has presented her research and conducted clinics at regional, national, and international music education and music therapy conferences, and her published research in music therapy and music education journals. She  teaches and provides clinical supervision for music therapy students in the Hayes School of Music.

Abigail Pope, MT-BC

Abigail is a board-certified music therapist pursuing a master’s degree in music therapy. She completed her undergraduate degree in Music Therapy at Appalachian State University. Following her internship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, she worked for 3 years as a music therapist in a forensic inpatient psychiatric hospital in Petersburg, Virginia. Throughout her varied experiences in the field, Abigail realized that she craved a deeper understanding of the therapeutic process and is excited to delve into her journey to become a better therapist. Abigail loves everything from running up a mountain to cuddling her cat on the couch; from hiking to making messy crafts in her apartment (much to her husband’s chagrin); and from rock climbing to singing encouragement to her enumerable houseplants.

Emily Cheek, MT-BC

Emily Cheek is a board-certified music therapist from Charlotte, NC and is enrolled as a dual masters student in the Music Therapy and Marriage and Family Therapy programs. She earned her Bachelor of Music with a minor in psychology from  Appalachian State University. Emily completed her clinical internship at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, primarily focusing in neonatal intensive care and cardiac intensive care. Emily recently completed her NICU-Rhythm Breath & Lullaby training through the Louis Armstrong Department of Music Therapy at Mount Sinai Hospitals in New York City.