Melodic Connections is a community music studio serving all ages and abilities. We prepare our students for the community and prepare the community for our students. At Melodic Connections, each voice is unique and every voice will be heard.
We use music as a tool for change in the lives of the people we serve and the communities they are a part of. Through the facilitation of music, we will help people see the humanity in each other, moving toward more inclusive communities that are change agents for the city. When people are brought together through active music making, we believe minds will be opened and new perspectives will emerge.
Using the principles of Community Music Therapy and a spirit of abundance, we bring groups together through music to form lasting relationships that include people with disabilities as leaders, participants and employees in this city.
Melodic Connections was founded in 2008 by music therapist and special educator, Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh. After helping a student with autism who has perfect pitch and beautiful musical expression unlock his talent at the piano, Zenk Nuseibeh recognized the need for a studio to support musicians with a love for music who require alternative teaching methods and an understanding instructor trained to address individual special learning needs.
Since then, Melodic Connections has expanded to provide adapted music instruction and personal growth through community music making for more than 900 individuals in special education classrooms, adult programs, after school classes, summer camps and through off-site partners.
Today, we are focused on enriching lives by helping people realize their dreams and passions, and by creating valued social roles where everyone can be a contributor, a teacher, a leader. We are committed to using our skills and community capital we have developed over our 10-year trajectory as an organization to help our musicians be more fully connected to others, and to using the demonstrated power of music to build community.
Betsey Zenk Nuseibeh, MEd, MM, MT-BC
Betsey is the founder of Melodic Connections. As a special educator and board certified music therapist in Cincinnati, she saw what music therapy could do, and it frustrated her that schools and families couldn’t afford it. She made it her mission to bring music therapy-based services to anyone who could benefit, regardless of their ability to pay. She gathered like-minded people for a board of directors, held a bowl-a-thon to raise money, and formed a nonprofit organization – Melodic Connections.
Betsey spent 10 years building a core team of music therapists, music educators and musicians with similar beliefs: that Cincinnati can be made better from the musical contributions of those typically not given a voice. Together they have created partnerships with organizations like Stepping Stones, Talbert House and The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati, and are telling new stories.
Betsey is currently helping Melodic Connections musicians write the next chapter of their lives. In her career, she has watched as peers and colleagues translate their passion for music into vocations. She believes that individuals with disabilities who love music have the same right, so she has developed several programs such as The Percussion Effect and Musical Books in which Melodic Connections musicians are booked for paid engagements. She has never stopped seeing people for their abilities, and finding ways to help them celebrate their abilities through music. She has changed the way people think about individuals with disabilities, encouraging others to see them as musicians – guitarists, keyboard players, drummers and vocalists.
Betsey received her BM in Music Therapy from the University of Iowa. She has an MM in Oboe Performance from CCM and her MEd from UC in Special Education. In addition to leading Melodic Connections, Betsey regularly advocates on behalf of music therapy through speaking engagements and providing group services throughout the Greater Cincinnati Area. She lives with her husband and two children in Newport. Betsey is also an avid runner, having competed in several marathons including the Boston Marathon and Flying Pig.
“I will never stop innovating until each and every one of the musicians at Melodic Connections is seen for their abilities and gifts, and is invited to be a full and contributing member of the community around them.”
Christina Weber, MT-BC
Christina is the one-stop shop for all things Melodic Connections. Her primary focus is advocating for students and supporting parents and caregivers. She oversees many functions such as managing logistics for programs and concerts, supervising staff, seeking opportunities for musicians, and finding the right fit for students within our many programs. Recently, Christina has been leading our pop-up concerts which bring music to communities in a fun, informal way. She is a strong advocate for both students and staff, making sure everyone has a positive experience with Melodic Connections.
Christina graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in Music Therapy. She completed her internship at Palmetto Health Baptist in Columbia, SC where she provided music therapy to patients of all ages – from kids to adults. She then worked as a music therapist for a private practice in Indiana. Christina grew up in Cincinnati, so was excited to come back to her hometown and join our staff. In her free time, she volunteers with Sofar Sounds and enjoys gardening, DIY home renovations, and relaxing in a hammock with a good book. She has been with Melodic Connections since February 2013.
“I pride myself in doing what is best for the student and offering opportunities for staff to explore.”
Elaine Ramage, MT-BC
Music Career Modules Coordinator
Elaine designs and executes the curriculum for the Willis Music-based Career Modules program, which focuses on learning music-related job skills, such as employee social skills, instrument cleaning, retail sales, guitar restringing and music technology. She also leads Musical Books, which brings music and literacy sessions to underserved pre-school classrooms in the greater Cincinnati area. She enjoys exploring and learning alongside the students and developing the curriculum around jobs they are curious about.
Elaine graduated with a degree in Music Therapy from the University of Dayton, and completed her internship at Big Bend Hospice in Tallahassee, FL. Before joining Melodic Connections, she taught private adaptive lessons. Elaine has been playing piano since age 7 and guitar for the last 5 years. Classically trained, Elaine also has taken three years of jazz piano. She has a passion for singing and has been involved in various vocal groups.
“I love how the programs at Melodic Connections are constantly expanding and changing to not only better fit the needs of our clients, but to encourage the community around them to expand and change to meet those needs.”
Shelly Zeiser, MT-BC
Service Learning Coordinator
Shelly leads The Percussion Effect program which trains Melodic Connections students to be drum circle leaders at events in the community. She is charged with booking performances and supporting students while teaching them to be leaders. She also heads up our “Hero Radio” podcast team, encouraging them as they find the best in themselves and in the musicians they interview.
Shelly has a degree in oboe performance from University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She then graduated Summa Cum Laude from University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA and completed her internship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She has been passionate about music since she began playing oboe at the age of seven and passionate about music therapy since she first discovered the profession. Her additional interests include international opportunities and community engagement, stemming from previous experience with music therapy and education work in Jamaica and China, as well as domestic music therapy work with at risk youth.
“I love being able to connect our musicians to new people and experiences. I am also really passionate about our work with youth who otherwise would not have access to music therapy- I love that we help bring music therapy services to people who cannot otherwise afford it or wouldn’t have access to it.”
Elizabeth Novak, MT-BC
Elizabeth creates a fun and rewarding experience for the more than 250 volunteers who support Melodic Connections’ work in the studio and around Greater Cincinnati. She facilitates opportunities for people in the community to learn more about and build relationships with our students and musicians.
Elizabeth earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Therapy from the University of Dayton. After, she completed a 9-month internship at the Pioneer Center, a school for children with special needs, in Chillicothe, Ohio. Originally from Plain City, Ohio, her love of music was apparent from a young age. By the age three, Liz was known for performing in front of anyone who would listen, including at local doctor’s offices. She was always singing. In high school, she grew to enjoy volunteering with special populations and performing in musicals, bands, and choirs. She decided to combine her love of music and working with people to pursue a degree in music therapy. In addition to music therapy, Liz enjoys volunteering outside, leading faith groups, serving in the community, and performing.
“Not only do I get to help our students grow and discover their inner potential through the power of music, but I also get to help high school students, area musicians, professional learners, and the general community connect and grow in their respective journeys through music and the relationships they develop with our students.”
“At Melodic Connections, I am able to empower diverse voices within our community. I believe that an individual’s relationship to their community is essential for health, well-being and quality of life and that diversity enriches community.”
PRESS INQUIRIES: Lynn@melodicconnections.org
Lynn is a marketer-turned-musician, and she brings a unique blend of skills to Melodic Connections. As a former marketing executive, Lynn worked with national brands and technology companies to develop brand identities and message strategies. She has served as a writer, public relations executive, strategy consultant and partner in an award winning communications firm. Lynn had a second career as a licensed Kindermusik Educator, and she taught early childhood music for a nationally recognized Kindermusik studio. While teaching Kindermusik she became inspired by the work of music therapists, and she returned to school to pursue a music degree, receiving an Associate of Arts in Music from Thomas More College, and completing additional course work toward a music degree at Northern Kentucky University. She also holds a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Northern Kentucky University. She uses her marketing skills and passion for music therapy to direct the outreach and development efforts at Melodic Connections.
James Stephenson, BA, Music Education
Through Melodic Connections, James works as a music educator at Linden Grove School providing classroom music for children with autism in grades Kindergarten through eighth. He is also a Drums Alive! certified instructor, and leads our Drums Alive! music and fitness classes.
James’ first experience with school music wasn’t until the last two months of his senior year in high school when he auditioned for the school talent show. The director asked him if he had any interest in singing in the chorus to which he promptly replied, “Nope. Choir is for geeks.” Little did he know he was about to become a professional geek. James went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Northern Kentucky University, and completed his internship in the Erlanger-Elsmere school system.
He then spent three years working as a special education teacher at Lloyd High School and returned to school for a Master’s in Education degree with a certification in Learning Behavioral Disabilities. Following that, he served as Director of Choral Studies for both Lloyd High School and Tichenor Middle School and is finishing a Master’s degree in Music Education through Kent State University. James enjoys writing and recording his own music, and playing the occasional live show.
“I’m passionate about the people and the mission of Melodic Connections. We have a unique opportunity to work with individuals pursuing their own aspirations as musicians. We also have an obligation to advance music in America by being agents of and advocates for music education.”
Nathan is a native of Dayton, Ohio where he graduated from Northmont High School in 1999. He has been a professional musician since graduating high school. His musical travels led him to spend time San Diego, CA, and Ft. Worth, TX, before returning home to Southwest Ohio where he has been a member of “Magic Jackson”, a popular regional band, as well as several side musical projects.
Nathan is married to Tess Warner Lewis and the couple has two young daughters, Ruby and Tillie. Tess is the general manager of The Sleepy Bee, a popular dining spot in Blue Ash. The family resides in the Madisonville neighborhood of Cincinnati.
“Being part of an organization that provides a powerful outlet for expression makes teaching at Melodic Connections undeniably extraordinary.”
Staff photos: Carolynn Simoes Photography
Jenny McCloy, Board President
Jenny has over 20 years of experience as an advocate for a child with special needs. She is a mother of four, and has a degree in speech/language pathology.
Martha Ostendarp, Director
Martha is retired from her position as Early Matters Coordinator at Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, and she is the grandmother of a child with Down Syndrome.
Michael Knab, Treasurer
Michael is banking center manager with Bank at First. He has seven years of experience in banking, four of the seven in small business banking. He is knowledgeable about how to run a business including understanding business returns. He is a graduate of BOARDway Bound, a coaching program provided by ArtsWave.
Ramzi Nuseibeh, Director
Ramzi is a small business owner, member and current president of a service-oriented organization in Lawrenceburg, IN, and an experienced fundraising event planner.
Peter Solimine, Secretary
Peter has ten years of experience representing investment banks, commercial banks and public and private companies in a wide range of corporate and financing transactions. He holds a B.A. cum laude from Vanderbilt University, and a J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School.
Ken Rinehart, CFP®,CRPS®, Director
Senior Vice President – Wealth Management
Senior Retirement Plan Consultant / Institutional Consultant
Ken has over 29 years of experience in Investment Management and Retirement Plan Consulting Services. He has extensive experience in plan design, investment policy, investment option selection and fiduciary responsibility. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and holds the Certified 401(k) Professional (C(k)P®) designation from TRAU, the Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS ®) designation from the College for Financial Planning and the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies. Ken and his wife, Barb, reside in Anderson Township and are blessed with two children, Paige and Alex.
Pam Rieke, Director
Pam has over 15 years of experience working with adults with disabilities at organizations such as United Cerebral Palsy, LADD and Down syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati. She has worked with Melodic Connections and their students on many occasions before joining the board. Her expertise includes advocacy and fundraising.
Susan Casella Odell, Director
Susan is a family succession adviser for Coppertree, Ltd., her family’s business. Her focus is on communication and encouraging younger generations to get involved and give back. Prior to joining Coppertree, she taught preschool special education for 7 years, where she saw very well how much music impacted her students. She graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in education.
Sue Antczak, Director, Chair of Finance, Non-voting Member
Sue is a Certified Public Accountant with Integrity Accounting Solutions.