Ava & Cordell Haymon Endowed Chair
259 Music & Dramatic Arts Building
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA 70803-2504
Dr. Geist joins LSU after teaching and directing the Music Therapy undergraduate and graduate programs in the School of Music and College of Fine Arts at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio since 2003. While at Ohio University, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses in Music Therapy and Arts in Health. She also guided undergraduate, master’s and doctoral research in Music Therapy and in other academic departments where the Fine Arts and health disciplines intersect.
She received the Ohio University School of Music Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2012 and the 2022-2025 Ohio University Presidential Teaching Award. Dr. Geist has long standing service for the American Music Therapy Association, having served on the Anti-Discrimination Policy Statement Task Force and the Education and Training Advisory Board. Her distinctive national service includes be co-chair of AMTA’s Academic Program Approval Committee and the Competency Review Task Force.
In 2017, Dr. Geist received the American Music Therapy Association – Great Lakes Region’s Scholarly Activity Award for her innovative work and publication about the impact of music for children, teachers, and families in Southeast Rural Appalachia Ohio. Her research focuses on using rhythmic strategies to help improve attention behaviors of children and attachment behaviors between infants and caregivers. She leads an interdisciplinary team in collaboration with the Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Patton College of Education to study the effect of a rhythmic intervention on caregiver/infant attachment behaviors and caregiver stress hormone levels when interacting with their infants.
With recent funding from the National Endowment for the Arts – Arts Works Grant and the Ohio University Research Committee Community-Engaged grants, she and her team trained community healthcare providers to teach evidence-based rhythmic strategies to caregivers of infants from underserved Appalachian communities, measuring infant/caregiver stress levels and social competence. She and her team have published their findings in the international journal of Music and Medicine and have presented regionally, nationally, and around the globe, including in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Scotland, Ecuador, and Austria.
Dr. Geist earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Baylor University in Waco, TX, and taught middle school band in Plano Independent School District in Plano, TX. After earning a Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy at Texas Woman’s University, working as a music therapy clinician in Plano, Highland Park, and Frisco Independent School Districts, and running her own private practice business, she found her calling to train music therapists to be professional and advanced clinicians, as an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University. While teaching at Ohio University, she earned a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a cognate in Educational Research Methods from the Patton College of Education at Ohio University.
A Louisiana native, Dr. Geist is excited to come home to lead the LSU School of Music to create the first music therapy program at a public institution in Louisiana and to continue her research.