Annette Whitehead-Pleaux

Assistant Professor
Affiliated Departments
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Annette Whitehead-Pleaux, M.A., MT-BC, is an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music who teaches classes in the undergraduate and graduate programs, including Music Therapy Research and Culturally Responsive Music Therapy. In addition, she teaches LENS courses on LGBTQ+ Identities in the Creative Arts and serves on the music therapy diversity committee.

Along with teaching at Berklee College of Music, Whitehead-Pleaux is adjunct faculty at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, Colorado State University, and Lesley University. With 10 articles, 13 chapters, and two books, she has been an active researcher, focusing on pain, anxiety, electronic music technology, and cultural responsiveness in music therapy. She's co-editor of Cultural Intersections in Music Therapy: Music, Health, and the Person.  

A music therapist for over 25 years, Whitehead-Pleaux has worked in a variety of settings, including public and private hospitals. She has worked with survivors of intimate partner violence and with children who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and mental health concerns. The bulk of her career was spent as a music therapist at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston with pediatric burn survivors, and she's currently the senior clinical supervisor at Roman Music Therapy Service, a large community music therapy center.  

Whitehead-Pleaux has been an advocate for music therapy through service to the profession throughout her entire career. She has held several positions regionally and nationally in the American Music Therapy Association. Additionally, she's a founding member of Team Rainbow, an LGBTQ+ music therapy organization.

Career Highlights
  • Instruments include guitar, ukulele, and saxophone
  • Contributions to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) include being a member of the following: board of directors (2012–present), council coordinator for association services, leadership succession planning task force (2014–present), financial advisory committee (2010–present), and audit committee (2014–present)
  • Member of the New England region AMTA board of directors and assembly of delegates
  • Publications include Cultural Intersections in Music Therapy: Music, Health, and the Person; "Pediatric Burn Care" in Guidelines for Music Therapy in Pediatric Health Care Settings; "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning: Best Practices in Music Therapy" in Music Therapy Perspective, 2; "Indications and Counter-Indications of Music Technology in a Pediatric Medical Setting" in Music and Medicine, July 2011; and "Exploring the Effects of Music Therapy on Pediatric Pain: Phase 1" in Journal of Music Therapy, 44 (3).
  • Presidential Commendation for Outstanding Service to Music Therapy Profession and LGBTQ Community: Members of Team Rainbow, American Music Therapy Association, 2017
  • Service Award, New England Region of the American Music Therapy Association, 2017
  • Best Poster in Category: Perceptions of Nurses Co-Treating with Music Therapy, American Burn Association, 2016
  • President’s Achievement Award, New England Region of the American Music Therapy Association, 2012
  • Thirty Extraordinary Bostonians, Boston Events Guide, 2004
  • President’s Achievement Award, New England Region of the American Music Therapy Association, 2004
  • Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Grant Award, American Music Therapy Association, 2003
  • M.A., St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, music therapy
  • B.M., Colorado State University, emphasis on music therapy
In Their Own Words

"For over 20 years, I have had the honor to work as a music therapist with people across the life span and in a variety of settings. It all started when I read a brochure about music therapy in my high school guidance counselor’s office. That was the moment I knew I had found not just a career, but my life’s work."

"I've worked in short- and long-term psychiatric hospitals with children, adolescents, adults, and older adults, often creating music therapy programs where there were none....It was while working with individuals with mental illness that my theoretical orientation as a humanist developed and solidified. In 2001, I became the first music therapist at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston, working with pediatric burn survivors, and I continue to work there to this day. Working with burn survivors has been a great joy."

"To be a good clinician, one must be involved in learning all the time. I bring this passion to learn and explore to my classes. I want students to leave my classes with a passion to learn more, explore more, share their ideas and findings, and bring the highest quality music therapy services to the people they work with."

"I want students to bring from my classes with the desire to seek answers for the questions in their work and lives.  Additionally, I want them to understand themselves, the systems around us, and others better, and have the desire to enter into others' points of view."

"Berklee's distance master's degree program is unique from other programs because it brings some of the best music therapists from across the world to the students. Students can learn from each of these people and develop their unique style of music therapy."

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