Our Music Therapy Song Team

About Us

Tuned in to Learning | Coast Music Therapy Song Team

Our Music Therapy Song Team

Tuned in to Learning® was founded in 2004 by Autism Specialist and Music Therapist, Michelle Lazar, MA, MT-BC with the help of Dr. Jeremy Jensen, Psy.D, MT-BC, Psychologist/Music Therapist, and the talented team of Board Certified Music Therapists from Coast Music Therapy.  This San Diego-based music therapy song team specialize in not only curriculum development but in training special education staff and providing classroom consultation to assist teachers in better utilizing music with their students. In working with a wide range of classrooms since 1999, it became clear that typical children’s music was not often appropriate for the learning styles of children with special needs. Concepts in these songs were too abstract, lyrics were fast-paced and complex, and children only had a few seconds to respond to instructions presented in the song. In order to help fill this need, the Coast Music Therapy staff began to develop educational songs that addressed common IEP goals with simplified language and extended response time. Each song was field-tested directly in the educational setting to gain further feedback from teachers, therapists, and parents who used the program regularly with their students. Visual supports were also designed to match the same types of cues students had access to in the school setting such as flashcards, simplified worksheets, large print text, and real life photographs. Out of these beginnings, Tuned in to Learning® blossomed into a comprehensive curriculum that is utilized today in school districts, therapy clinics, and home programs internationally.

Tuned in to Learning | Specialists in Music Therapy and Autism

Specialists in Music Therapy and Autism

Under the direction of Michelle Lazar, MA, MT-BC, Autism Specialist, our team of Board Certified Neurologic Music Therapists specialize in serving students with autism and other special needs. In addition to publishing songs for special education, our staff also provide music therapy services through the IEP to San Diego county school districts through our agency Coast Music Therapy. Our motivated and musical team of professionals write, record, and produce each Tuned in to Learning® original song. We are always coming up with ideas for new songs, often inspired by IEP goals we are working on with our students.


Michelle Lazar- Music Therapist and Autism Specialist

Michelle Lazar, MA, MT–BC
Autism Specialist, Music Therapist, Founder and Director

After founding San Diego-based Coast Music Therapy in 1999, Michelle co-founded Tuned in to Learning® in 2004 in order to offer music-assisted learning strategies to parents, teachers, and therapists internationally. In addition to her degree in music therapy, Michelle completed her graduate studies with a specialization in autism and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) at San Diego State University. Michelle has served on numerous special needs non-profit boards and was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award by the Combined Health Agencies and San Diego Autism Society for her efforts. She currently is on the advisory committee for The SongStream Project. Visit Michelle Lazar’s Listmania page of Song Story Books»»
Visit the Coast Music Therapy Website»»

Jeremy Jensen- Music Therapist and Psychologist | Tuned in to Learning

Jeremy Jensen, PsyD, MM, MT–BC
Psychologist, Music Therapist, Head of Music Production and Co-Founder

Already a Board Certified Music Therapist, recording artist, and sound engineer, Dr. Jensen has also completed his doctorate degree in clinical psychology. He holds a master’s degree in music therapy from Colorado State University and has clinical training in Neurologic Music Therapy and Applied Behavior Analysis. Jeremy co-directed Coast Music Therapy from 2001 to 2009 and co-founded Tuned in to Learning®. He continues to serve both organizations by writing, recording, and providing consultation on therapeutic/educational songs. Jeremy resides in San Francisco and is the co-founder of Critical Beats whose mission is to raise money for non-profits working in Amazon conservation and sustainable education by intertwining music from current and indigenous artists. Visit the Critical Beats Website»»

Talia Morales- Music Therapist

Talia Morales, MT–BC
Neurologic Music Therapist, Supervisor and Program Coordinator

Talia is a Board Certified Music Therapist and supervisor to the Coast Music Therapy staff in addition to lending her songwriting and vocal talents to Tuned in to Learning®. Currently, she’s completing a master’s degree in expressive arts therapy—the integration of visual arts, movement, drama, and music to promote self-expression and non-verbal communication. She also provides family workshops in Spanish. After hours, Talia is a registered yoga instructor and co-founder of The SongStream Project, a mobile recording project that gathers the songs behind a story and the stories behind a song. Talia has additional certification in Neurologic Music Therapy through Colorado State University. Visit the SongStream Project Website»»

Shaina Pugh- Music Therapist

Shaina Pugh, MT–BC
Neurologic Music Therapist and Lead Therapist for Coast Music Therapy School Programs

A Board Certified Music Therapist with a baccalaureate degree in music therapy from Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts, Shaina is the Coast Music Therapy lead therapist and accomplished singer/songwriter for Tuned in to Learning®. She serves youth with autism and related needs through individual and group therapy, adapted music lessons, and consultation. After hours, Shaina performs with the Mar Dels,  a San Diego seven-piece nostalgia band whose repertoire covers popular music from the 1940s through the 1990s. Shaina also has additional certification in Neurologic Music Therapy through Colorado State University. Visit the Mar Dels’ Website»»

Veronica May- Music Therapist

Veronica May, MT–BC
Neurologic Music Therapist

Veronica is a talented music therapist who breathes creativity and innovation into adapted music instruction and music recording for learners with special needs. You’ll hear Veronica’s exceptional songwriting and vocal talents on many of the Tuned in to Learning® songs.  Veronica is also the guitar and drum instructor at San Pasqual Academy and brilliant singer-songwriter for the San Diego duo The Lovebirds. Veronica has additional certification in Neurologic Music Therapy through Colorado State University. Listen to Veronica May Perform “The Train”»»
Visit The Lovebirds Website»»
Watch the “Cellar Door” Music Video by The Lovebirds»»

Laura Anderson- Music Therapist

Laura Rose Anderson, MT–BC
Neurologic Music Therapist

Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Laura received her bachelor’s degree in music therapy and vocal performance from the University of Iowa. After completing her six-month clinical internship with MusicWorx Inc., in San Diego, she found her niche working at Coast Music Therapy. She continues to perform professionally throughout San Diego and is training to become a 200-hour certified yoga instructor.  Laura has additional certification in Neurologic Music Therapy through Colorado State University. Listen to Laura Rose Anderson’s Original Song»»
Watch Laura’s HAPI Drum Tutorial»»

Linda Martin- Music Therapist

Linda Martin, MME, MT–BC
Neurologic Music Therapist

In addition to being a board certified music therapist for Coast Music Therapy, Linda served as the autism program coordinator at the Autism Discovery Institute at Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego. Linda specializes in assessments, behavioral intervention, and family support through diagnosis. In her spare time, Linda coordinates a special needs ministry, sings in a gospel group, and reaches out to families abroad through her nonprofit organization, Agapetos Foundation. Linda has additional certification in Neurologic Music Therapy through Colorado State University. Visit Linda Martin’s Special Needs Ministry at Facebook»»

Emma Byrd - San Diego Music Therapist

Emma Byrd
Music Therapist

Emma Byrd holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy from Berklee College of Music. Originally from Massachusetts, Emma came to San Diego in September 2014 to complete her music therapy internship and began working at Coast in April 2015. Her love of using music to provide others with a platform to be their best selves has allowed Emma to work with a large variety of populations, and has given her the opportunity to travel to places such as Grand Cayman and Panama. Listen to Emma Byrd’s Music»»


Kevin Budd, MM, MT-BC
Board-Certified Music Therapist

Kevin is very excited to be joining the Coast family! Kevin holds a Master’s degree in music therapy from Illinois State University and completed his Bachelor’s degree in contemporary music performance at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. Kevin has worked with a variety of populations in a multitude of settings including pediatric intensive care units, neonatal intensive care units, behavioral health units, oncology/hematology units, schools, juvenile detention facilities, and detox/crisis facilities. In fall 2014, he started a music appreciation project while volunteering in the slums of Kibera, Kenya in addition to working with youth with autism in New Zealand from 2013-2014. Outside of Coast, Kevin enjoys performing/writing music, reading about psychology, hiking, body-surfing, and cooking yummy food for his friends. Listen to Emma Byrd’s Music»»


Chiara Francolino
Music Therapist

Chiara Francolino will immediately captivate you with her sunshine smile. Raised in Romania, Chiara’s rich cultural upbringing causes her to shine with empathy and diversity, connecting with others with ease and grace. A natural music therapist, Chiara’s intuition and uplifting energy instantly engages those in the classroom – students and teachers alike. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in music therapy from Seattle Pacific University and soon after made the leap down to sunny San Diego where she completed her internship at a private practice clinic. Chiara became a ‘Coaster’ in November 2016, bringing a multitude of ideas with her. You can often find her writing a catchy adapted version of a pop song or creating highly personalized materials to meet the needs of her students. After work, you can catch Chiara swinging big at her local boxing gym, serenading her neighbors on her pedal harp, or gathering a crowd at karaoke with her stellar soprano vocals.


Marissa Phillips
Music Therapist

A bright and warm music therapist, Marissa Phillips enjoys crafting opportunities for her students to shine through creative music interventions. After completing her B.A. in Music Therapy from California State University Northridge and her internship at a private practice clinic in San Diego, Marissa joined the Coast Music Therapy team in August 2016. Her love and compassion toward others expand beyond the field of music therapy, to her creation of music programs in Mozambique and her involvement with Family Legacy, a non-profit transforming the future of Zambia by educating its youth. When she is not rocking the classroom with educational pop-song re-writes and instrument play interventions, Marissa can be found on the beach, soaking up the glorious sun and playing sweet acoustic covers on her beloved Taylor guitar.

Marielle Sheppel - Music Therapist | San Diego

Marielle Sheppel, MT–BC
Neurologic Music Therapist

Marielle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Therapy and Psychology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.  She completed her internship with MusicWorx of California during which time she had the opportunity to work with the Scripps Health system, the Children’s Learning Academy at TERI, Inc., Rady’s Children’s Hospital, The Elizabeth Hospice, Camp Pendleton Wounded Warriors program, The YWCA of San Diego, Mommy and Me Early Music Education Program, and The Arc of San Diego.  She has volunteered for organizations including Best Buddies International, has worked as a Certified Kindermusik Educator, and completed a music therapy service project in Boston Bay, Jamaica for children with visual and hearing impairments. Marielle has additional certification in Neurologic Music Therapy through Colorado State University.

Katie Frankfurth- Tuned in to Learning

Katie Garner
Office Manager

Katie recently graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelors in Communication and now organizes every aspect of the Coast Music Therapy and Tuned in to Learning business administration. In her spare time you can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, or at the bowling alley with her family winning league championships.

Wayqi- The Tuned in to Learning Office Dog

Office Wag

Wayqi (pronounced why-key) is the Peruvian word for friend or homie. Although Talia’s adoptee, Wayqi has become an indispensable member of the Coast Music Therapy and Tuned in to Learning® family as official greeter, consumer of leftovers, and always-eager audience when learners invite him to join clinic sessions. Watch a Music Therapy Session Co-led by a Therapy Dog»»