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.
Graduating from the University of Dayton, she got her start working at a hospital in South Carolina. After working with individuals in a private setting, Christina found her way back home to Cincinnati and whole-heartedly dove into the world of non-profit leadership. You may want to ask her; what vegetables she is growing, what book she is reading or what DIY home project she is currently working on when you meet her.
“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.”
Elizabeth Novak, MT-BC
Learning and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator
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.”
Alex Desmond, MT-BC
Alex works with Melodic Connections conservatory students and in area classrooms. He has a B.A. in Music therapy from Ohio University and has a passion for work in the mental health community with a focus in addiction treatment. Outside of work hours, Alex teaches drum set, guitar, and piano lessons at Cincinnati School of Music and enjoys doing open mics.
“I enjoy helping people express themselves through music.”
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 BA in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and 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, M.M.Ed.
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, his Master of Music Education, 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.”
Jordan Toney, MT-BC
Jordan graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Music Therapy. She has a passion for working with people who have experienced trauma, and attends trainings and conferences on trauma informed practices whenever possible. After graduation, she completed a 6-month internship at Florida State Hospital, the largest long-term psychiatric hospital in the state. There, she provided individual and group music therapy to adults with severe mental illnesses. Following her internship Jordan worked with offenders at Coalinga State Hospital. There she collaborated with recreation, art, and music therapists to provide rehabilitative treatment for patients. Jordan has worked with preschool children, teenagers and adults with developmental disabilities, and older adults. Outside of work, she enjoys sharing and making music with her family and friends.
“I believe that music has the ability to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together, and I am passionate about Melodic Connections’ mission of creating a more inclusive community through music.”
Nathan has been with Melodic since 2015 and is responsible for several programs including Conservatory, CSO volunteers, Employment First certified, and Concert Co-op (event management and emcee for Sofar Sounds.)
Nathan is a native of Dayton, Ohio where he graduated from Northmont High School in 1999 and has been working in music and performance since then. Nathan attended The Recording Workshop for music production/recording engineers and has toured regionally and nationally with various bands. He is currently part of the band Ernie Johnson From Detroit.
Nathan’s wife, Tess, is an arts teacher at Parker Woods Montessori and the couple has two young daughters.
Justin leads the Career Modules program which helps to ready students for the workplace. He is also an instructor in the Musical Books program and leads our Hero Radio Podcast and Music Conservatory. Justin has been a performing musician for 20 years and has been playing with Jake Speed and the Freddies for 18 years.
“I am passionate about the power of music in terms of community, connection and personal empowerment. I’m constantly inspired by the students and staff at Melodic Connections.”
Megan is an instructor in Melodic Connections’ Conservatory. She is also part of Musical Books, a program in which musicians from Melodic Connections conservatory team up with another teaching musician, and together they lead music and literacy sessions in underserved preschool classrooms. Megan has a Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance from Mount St Joseph University. In her free time, Megan enjoys playing in church concerts.
“I am passionate about sharing love and respect with the students. My favorite thing here is to witness a student genuinely having fun – whether they are playing an instrument or excited to share a story. I love watching their faces light up.”
Staff photos: Carolynn Simoes Photography