HealthRHYTHMS Trainers

Meet our HealthRHYTHMS Trainers 

Barry Bittman, MD and Christine Stevens, MA, MSW, MT-BC, co-founders (with the late Karl Bruhn) of the HealthRHYTHMS Group Empowerment Drumming Facilitation Training program, taught facilitators around the world for 13 years. In 2014 in response to growing demand and our desire to provide smaller, more frequent training experiences we added 4 additional highly qualified professionals to our training team (listed below in alphabetical order). We consider it an honor to share with you quality, evidence-based programs that have been both personally and professionally transformational for each of us. 

Barry Bittman, MD, is a neurologist, author, international speaker, award-winning producer/director and inventor. As CEO and Medical Director of the Mind-Body Wellness Center, a comprehensive, interdisciplinary outpatient medical facility in Meadville, PA., Dr. Bittman has pioneered a new paradigm for treating the “whole person.” Based upon extensive research, he developed Insights for Living Beyond Cancer with Bernie Siegel, MD, a program that integrates the power of mind, body and spirit with conventional medical care. Dr. Bittman has also created similar programs for individuals facing the challenges of asthma, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease and diabetes.

Based on his conviction that Recreational Music-making is an effective therapeutic strategy in conventional medical settings, Dr. Bittman led a team of researchers who investigated the biological effects of the HealthRHYTHMS group drumming protocol he co-developed. This foundational study (Alternative Therapies, Jan. 2001) correlated group drumming with increased activity of Natural Killer cells, specialized white blood cells that seek out and destroy cancer cells and virally-infected cells. Barry Bittman teaches our Advanced Strategies Training. 

Arlene de Silva In her quest to improve quality of life of diverse populations, Arlene de Silva founded the Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition (CMWC), the nation’s first community-wide recreational music making wellness coalition. CMWC was founded in 2009 by bringing together 30 members consisting of hospitals, universities, senior living communities, physicians, and musicians. Members are from the US, Switzerland and Sri Lanka. 

CMWC’s mission is to promote a culture of wellness in diverse populations through evidence-based recreational music making, education, and arts engagement. CMWC actively engages older adults, caregivers, developmentally disabled, at-risk youth, veterans, immigrants, refugees, individuals suffering from mental health disorders and substance use, children and adolescents, high school/college students, and employee wellness groups, in Clavinova Connection and HealthRHYTHMS-two evidence-based recreational music making wellness programs.

Arlene has served as CEO of CMWC since its inception in 2009. Prior to founding CMWC, she served as CFO, COO, and CEO of the Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio, a regional non-profit organization serving older adults and caregivers. She successfully led a senior management team which increased the operating revenue of the organization from $13 million to $70 million within six years.

In 1991, she founded and directed Maestoso Chorus, an all-volunteer fifty-member choir which included members from Christian denominations, Jewish, and Muslim. The chorus accompanied by students of the University of Cincinnati College -Conservatory of Music performed during Christmas and year-end holidays for the Cincinnati community.

Arlene majored in accounting from Aquinas University in Colombo, Sri Lanka and holds a Licentiate from the Royal Schools of Music, London, England. She’s also a Remo, Inc. approved HealthRHYTHMS trainer.

She is the published author and photographer of two books of photos and essays on older adults: Faces in Aging, which features 60 older adults from the U.S., UK, Middle East, and Sri Lanka, and Life in Old Age, commissioned by the Swiss Department of Aging. 

Since 2012, she’s been committed to improving the lives of refugee families and advocates on behalf of them at state and local levels. Arlene was a Cincinnati Business Courier 2008 Healthcare Hero Finalist in the Innovation category for innovating COALA a training program for homecare workers. In 2009, Yamaha Music & Wellness Institute awarded her the visionary leadership award for founding Cincinnati Music & Wellness Coalition.

Facebook page: Cincinnati Music and Wellness Coalition

Larry Dickson, MA, LPC is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and Director of Counseling at the Mind Body Wellness Center. He has received national certification as a counselor (NCC) and international certifications as a Co-Occurring Disorders Professional Diplomate (CCDP) and a Certified Criminal Justice Professional (CCJP). Additionally he holds certification from the American Psychotherapy Association as a Certified Relationship Specialist (CRS), Board Certified in Professional Counseling (B.C.P.C.), Diplomate American Psychotherapy Association (D.A.P.A.), and holds an elementary education teaching certificate in Pennsylvania.

Larry earned a Master of Arts Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and a B.A. in elementary education, early childhood and child development from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 1980. He has been employed for the past 30 years in administrative and clinical positions in the mental health, mental retardation and education fields. Larry is a HealthRHYTHMS Endorsed Facilitator and was a member of the research team that developed the HealthRHYTHMS Adolescent Protocol. Larry is a Remo approved trainer for HealthRHYTHMS Basic Training and together with Margaret Sowry, teaches our Adolescent Protocol Training.

Annie Heiderscheit, Ph.D., MT-BC, FAMI, MFT Annie Heiderscheit, Ph.D., MT-BC, LMFT is a board certified music therapist and a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is a past president of the World Federation for Music Therapy. She serves on the executive committee of the International Association for Music and Medicine. She is the Director of the Music Therapy program at Augsburg College in Minnesota. An expert on Music Therapy within the context of Eating Disorders she recently released a book on Creative Arts Therapies and Clients with Eating Disorders. She is a Remo approved HealthRHYTHMS Trainer.

Annie has more than 20 years of clinical experience as a board certified music therapist providing services to a variety of clinical settings. She has conducted research utilizing guided imagery and music with adults in chemical dependency treatment. She is currently conducting research utilizing music to reduce stress and anxiety during mealtimes with patients in eating disorder treatment. Dr. Heiderscheit also collaborated with Dr. Linda Chlan on a $1.2 million research grant through the National Institutes of Health to study the use of a music intervention to reduce sedation in mechanically ventilated patients. 

Prior to accepting the position at Augsburg College, Dr. Heiderscheit taught at the University of Minnesota in the Center for Spirituality and Healing. She maintains a private practice in music therapy, specializing in the use of music therapy in medicine and healing practices and in music psychotherapy. She maintains clinical practice at The Emily Program (outpatient eating disorder treatment program) and at University of Minnesota Children's Hospital on the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and Pediatric Intensive Care Units.

Margaret Sowry former assistant to Neuroscientist, Barry Bittman, MD as well as the Manager and Recreational Music-making Research Coordinator for the Mind-Body Wellness Center. Margaret is a HealthRHYTHMS Endorsed Facilitator. She has been an integral member of Dr. Bittman's research team since 2000 and was a co-developer of the Adolescent Protocol.

Margaret believes that the fundamental essence of HealthRHYTHMS is to honor every individual, recognizing their value, their beauty and their uniqueness. Everyone has a story and all the stories are invaluable lessons; while the act of sharing them is the foundational step of healing. Many people refer to Margaret as "the heart" of HealthRHYTHMS. Margaret is a Remo approved trainer for HealthRHYTHMS Basic Training and together with Larry Dickson, teaches our Adolescent Protocol Training.  

Christine Stevens, MA, MSW, MT-BC is an internationally acclaimed speaker, author, and music therapist. Holding masters degrees in both social work and music therapy, Christine inspires people all over the world with her message of musical empowerment for mind-body wellness. With over 20 years of experience developing drumming programs, including the co-development of the HealthRHYTHMS Training program, she has worked with Columbine High School, Ground Zero, and survivors of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Christine has developed team building programs for major corporations, including DuPont, The Department of Defense, and Verizon. Christine is the author of: The Healing Drum Kit, The Art and Heart of Drum Circles and Music Medicine. She serves on the editorial board of Explore: The Journal of Science & Healing. Christine is a Remo approved trainer for HealthRHYTHMS Basic Training.  

 Televised media credits include: CBS This Morning, NBC’s The Other Half, KABC–Los Angeles, KTLA – Los Angeles, Tournament of Roses  Parade, London Tonight, Living Better TV, Discovery Health, & Hong Kong News. 

 Print media featuring Christine’s work include: Fitness Magazine, Spirituality & Health, Body & Soul, Fast Company, First for Women  Magazine, The Oriental News, New Age Retailer Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, US News & World Report, Yogi Times, Natural  Beauty and Health. 

Frank Thompson is a professional drum circle facilitator and founder of the AZ Rhythm Connection (AZRC). During a corporate career of over 25 years, Frank held regional and national marketing, training and management/executive positions with Prudential, GE and AT&T. Frank is pleased to be associated with REMO in three areas: as a HealthRHYTHMS Endorsed Facilitator, a REMO Endorsed Drum Circle Facilitator and now a HealthRHYTHMS Trainer.

Frank is Adjunct Faculty at ASU. Frank is a Teaching Artist with Free Arts of Arizona. Frank is recent past Board Member and Chair of Ear Candy Charity and current Board Member for Rising Youth Theater. Frank is a Co-Developer of the Arizona State University Music Therapy Clinic Community Music and Wellness Program. Frank is also the lead person for Roots of Rhythm curriculum/program in Arizona. Frank facilitates community and educational drumming workshops at the Music Instrument Museum. Frank is Co-Founder of the Arizona Health Through Music Initiative and is the Music and Activities Director with One Day Adventures, Corporate Team Building Specialists. Frank is also a Remo approved trainer for HealthRHYTHMS Basic Training.  Frank teaches our Basic Training. He also teaches HealthRHYTHMS for us at Arizona State University in collaboration with their Music Therapy Department.