Music Therapy

music therapy

Institute for Music and Neurologic Function

The nonprofit Institute for Music and Neurologic Function (IMNF) was founded in 1995 on the idea that music has unique powers to heal, rehabilitate, and inspire. Since then it has become a leading authority on music therapy research and education.




Dr. Concetta Tomaino

Music Therapist Dr. Concetta Tomaino, DA, LCAT, MT-BC, is the executive director and co-founder of the IMNF and senior vice president for music therapy for the CenterLight Health System. She is on faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Lehman College/CUNY, and the Consortium of NY Geriatric Education Centers. She is a former president of the American Association for Music Therapy.

music therapy
Dr. Concetta Tomaino

Tomaino has received numerous awards for her work in music therapy, including the American Music Therapy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (Nov 2014), the Award of Accomplishment from Music Therapists for Peace at the United Nations, as well as the Music Has Power Award (2004), for her outstanding contributions, leadership, research, and service in music therapy.


Tomaino was raised in New York City where she learned to play accordion, and later, trumpet and piano. It was while studying at Stony Brook University that she first became interested in the then-emerging field of music therapy. She earned a degree in Arts in Music Performance with minors in psychology and sciences. She studied music therapy independently as there was no program at Stony Brook back then, but continued studies at NYU receiving  both  masters and doctoral  degrees  in music therapy.

In 1980, Tomaino began work at Beth Abraham as the facility’s only music therapist, and it was during the first year that she met visiting neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, author of the breakthrough book Awakenings. Both were interested in the response of dementia and other brain trauma patients to music. They have since spent years working together researching and championing the benefits of music therapy. Together with Sacks, Tomaino co-founded the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function with the Beth Abraham Family of Health Services.


Institute for Music and Neurologic Function

music therapy
IMNF-trained caregivers who use music therapeutically report more positive caregiving experiences. Music often unlocks memories to allow shared reminiscences.

Founded in 1995, the nonprofit IMNF is a member of the CenterLight Health System (formerly Beth Abraham Family of Health Services). Directed by Dr. Concetta Tomaino, with medical guidance from Dr. Oliver Sacks, the institute allows researchers to apply their theories and follow long-term patient rehabilitation. The institute collaborates with other health care research institutions to further the cause of applying the power of music to healing and wellness, especially in the area of patients with brain trauma. The focus is on the effectiveness of music therapy, how and why music works on the human body and mind, and how the brain processes music.

Today, the IMNF is considered a leading authority on music therapy treatment, research, and education, and students from across the globe come to the IMNF to study with its music therapists. Additionally, the IMNF offers its services to patients in New York City who have suffered neurological traumas such as stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions. The IMNF applies its vast clinical experience in music therapy to diverse client populations;
and provides internationally recognized training
in music therapy.

Music Has Power Awards

Each November the IMNF holds its Music Has Power Awards. The fundraising event symbolizes the visionary spirit of the institute by honoring those who have supported its pioneering mission to combine science and music to promote healing and wellness.

This year’s award recipients included Nobel Prize scientist Dr. Paul Greengard and his wife, world-renowned sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard. Together, they created the Pearl Meister Greengard Prize to recognize the contributions of women scientists. In order to create the prize, which includes a $100,000 honorarium, they donated all the money from Greengard’s 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to The Rockefeller University. Greengard is the Vincent Astor Professor of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience at Rockefeller and director of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research. Von Rydingsvard is known for creating large-scale, often monumental sculpture from cedar beams, which she painstakingly cuts, assembles, and laminates. These honorees embody the marriage of music, art and science; a true reflection of the Institute’s mission.


Also honored at the Music Has Power Awards was the family of Glen Campbell. Through Campbell’s Goodbye Tour and the film Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me, they have courageously raised awareness of the therapeutic use of music in treating Alzheimer’s patients. From their June 2011 announcement of Campbell’s diagnosis, he and his family have come to symbolize the challenge of living with the disease. They have advocated for increased research money and testified before Congress.

Previous honorees include distinguished neurologist and author Dr. Oliver Sacks; Henry Z. Steinway of Steinway & Sons; Karl Bruhn, music wellness advocate; Remo Belli, drumming/wellness advocate and CEO of REMO drums; and Mickey Hart, musicologist and percussionist with the Grateful Dead.

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