Tom McClelland

Music Therapist
Beth Abraham Health Services

Tom McClelland first joined Beth Abraham Health Services, a member of CenterLight Health System in 1997 as a part-time staff music therapist, following a one-year music therapy internship there that began in 1995. By 1999, McClelland’s commitment to the music therapy program at CenterLight Health System Health Services increased to full-time, and he worked with neurologically impaired adults including residents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, head trauma, stroke and aphasia.

After a youth spent playing in rock bands in and around Columbus, Ohio, McClelland enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He performed as singer and guitarist for his fellow troops, followed by performances at overseas Air Force bases in Thailand, Taiwan and Okinawa. Within two and a half years of his enlistment, Tom was directing the prestigious Kadena Air Force base Chapel Folk Choir in Okinawa, already regarded as the world’s number two Air Force choir.

Returning to Ohio after his service, McClelland earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Capital University Conservatory of Music in Columbus. As an undergraduate, Tom toured Europe with their chapel choir, toured California with the men’s glee club and played guitar with the Conservatory’s jazz big band on a musical piece that took top honors for jazz composition in a national college competition. While at Capital University, Tom got to hone his talents alongside of jazz legends and luminaries including drummer Cozy Cole, saxophonist Phil Woods and the iconic, award winning jazz/blues vocalist, Joe Williams.

Revisiting his youthful rock roots after graduating, Tom toured the college circuit in a rock and roll band with A& M recording artist Willie Phoenix, before moving to New York City. Installed in Greenwich Village, he studied guitar with folk legend Dave Van Ronk, teamed up with folk music pioneer Sis Cunningham and shared the stage with such leading lights of the folk world as Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton.

Wishing to continue the studies in music therapy that he began a decade earlier at the University of Dayton, Tom enrolled in New York University and worked as a music therapy volunteer at a senior center before undertaking his music therapy internship at Beth Abraham Health Services.

In 2005, Tom helped celebrate the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function’s 10th Anniversary when he performed with a vocal pop group made up of three Beth Abraham residents at the Music Has Power Awards at Lincoln Center.

Today, in addition to providing individual music therapy sessions for Beth Abraham Health Services residents and leading music therapy groups on several of the facility’s units, Tom directs – as he has since 1998 – the Beth Abraham Gospel Choir. Tom also volunteers at Beth Abraham Health Services on Sunday mornings to play music at a church service for the residents.