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TOM SWEITZER

Tom Sweitzer – MTT, MT-BC – 

Tom is Co-Founder, Creative Director and Head of Music Therapy at A Place to Be, a non-profit organization serving over 300 families weekly, offering Music Therapy in Northern Virginia. Tom holds a B.F.A. in Music Theater, a Graduate Certificate in Music Therapy from Shenandoah University and a Master’s in Music Therapy from Berklee College of Music. Tom has created several therapeutic musical productions that focus on acceptance, diversity and empathy that toured schools and beyond. His Rock Opera about Suicide prevention, A Will to Survive, performed at the Terrace Theater at The Kennedy Center. He has collaborated with Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center, writing and directing their first fully-inclusive and disability focused production for the children’s theater and education department. He is an adjunct professor at Shenandoah University and consults as a Music Therapist across the country.

Tom received the title Loudoun County Humanitarian of the Year in 2014 and in that same year was invited as a guest to the White House for his work with disabilities. A Place to Be and Tom was awarded “Best Music Therapy Provider of the Year” by the American Music Therapy Association in June 2017. That same year he was honored to be a guest at the “Sound Health” conference hosted by The National Institute of Health along with renowned Opera star, Renee Fleming and NIH Director, Dr. Francis Collins. His choir, “Different Strokes for Different Folks,” a group comprised of stroke survivors through Inova Hospital sang alongside Renee Fleming. He continues to educate people about Music Therapy with Mrs. Fleming on Music and the Mind, most recently at Tanglewood, and on her own podcast. Throughout Covid he has facilitated a nation-wide on-line support group featured both on NPR and ABC news. Tom is a subject of a new documentary, “Music Got Me Here,” along with one of his heroes, Forrest Allen, a young man with Traumatic Brain Injury who found his voice and courage again through Music Therapy. “Music Got Me Here” is on Apple TV and Amazon Prime. The Hollywood “narrative” film of “Music got Me Here,” is in development with Producer, MGM’s Irwin Wrinkler, and starring “The Outer Banks” star, Chase Stokes as Forrest. Tom’s role has not been cast of September 2022.

Tom has written, produced and stars in his own one-man show, “Meatballs and Music,” a 75- minute theatrical production about his abusive, colorful, yet humorous childhood, and how music saved his life. He won “Best Solo-performance” in the 2022 DCFringe festival. Tom is dedicated in growing A Place to Be and its mission to help people face, navigate, and overcome life’s challenges through Music Therapy. He enjoys inspiring, entertaining, and educating while presenting in front of audiences as an Actor, Thought leader and Music Therapist.

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MY COVID STORY

To say that having had COVID changed my life, would be an understatement. Not only has life
changed because of actually suffering through a medium bout of it, but the world has changed
since March of 2020 and for that I am sad and grateful I feel we were given all of this to help
awaken our souls, heighten gratitude and disconnect us so profoundly that we will connect on a
new level on the other side.

In June of 2020, I invited 5 family members over (with Masks) Truth be told, we hugged with
them on and we ate outside and tried to stay distant and then went inside. One by one
throughout the next week, everyone who was there got COVID. I was the only want to be
attacked by its fangs so horribly. From a fever, chills, to exhaustion a few days went by and then
it landed in my lungs. Days later went to the hospital and had major Pneumonia. My lungs were
filling up fast. I spent less than a week in the hospital but was saved by the drug Remdesivir, lot
of oxygen and steroids. Went home with Oxygen and slowly recovered over 3-4 weeks –
exercise, breathing exercises and of course, Music Therapy. I am mostly recovered, but after 3
months of brain fog, I can clearly say that now I have neurological complications that are
unexplainable. MRI and CT scan showed no damage. After talking to many survivors that is not
uncommon. I lose words, thoughts, my short-term memory has diminished, so much it scares
me greatly. But I am working through it and thank God I am alive.

I found the Facebook group Coronavirus Survivor Corps, and that is where my idea of providing
Music Therapy to other survivors came from. The thousands that are on that page have had
their lives change, much more than me. It is a place of resource, inspiration and validation.
Since the first night of Music Therapy for COVID I have loved meeting other survivors and look
forward to sharing what I can about the power of Music Therapy. The two most profound
places Music Therapy can help is emotionally and also in the health of lungs as they repair and
become healthy again. I plan throughout 2021 to keep the Music Therapy group for Covid
Survivors going