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Music Therapy

The Breakdown

Who among us can resist the siren song of music?  Whether we just want to rock out to a heavy metal classic or cry along with a mournful ballad, music affords us a great emotional release.  It can quickly move us to cheers or to tears and it offers great comfort.  And perhaps no one appreciates the power of music quite like a music therapist.  Indeed, these individuals understand how to harness the power of music to help others grow, heal and move forward.

Should you pursue music therapy, you’ll learn how to marry music with psychology and counseling.  As an undergrad, you will study how music can help address the cognitive, emotional, social and even physical needs of an individual.  Of course, you’ll also hone and develop your own musical talents, taking classes in composition, arranging, music theory, history, voice, etc.  And you will learn how to evaluate patients’ needs and implement therapeutic strategies.  It’s important to make mention that if music therapy is the path for you, it’s necessary to attend a program that’s approved by the American Music Therapy Association.      

Certainly, many music therapy majors are creative and have an artistic bent.  Moreover, they also demonstrate superior analytical and listening skills.  And they are detail-oriented and quick to exercise empathy and sensitivity.  Finally, they know how to play “Stairway to Heaven” on the guitar.   


Nuts and Bolts

As a music therapy major, your course-load might include classes such as: Music in Special Education, Psychology of Music, Exceptional Children, Piano, Voice, Human Identity Through Creative Arts, Music Therapy Techniques, Medical Music Therapy, Gerontological Music Therapy, Modern Acoustic Guitar, Fundamentals of Choral Conducting, Clinical Orientation, and Expressive and Creative Arts in Healing.

Decisions, Decisions

Music therapy majors are typically passionate about the arts and mental health.  Therefore, they are also likely to be drawn to music, psychology, music history, musical theater, social work, neuroscience, occupational therapy, art therapy, child development, special education, gerontology, dance and theater.

What's Next

Shockingly, most music therapy majors aspire to become music therapists.  Obviously, earning a bachelor’s degree is a great (and necessary) first step.  Beyond your academic work, you’ll also have to complete an internship and pass the national examination administered by the American Music Therapy Association.  Once you become certified, you’ll have the opportunity to practice in a number of settings.  Indeed, you can find music therapy majors everywhere from hospitals and nursing homes to schools, psychiatric centers, hospices, rehabilitation centers and group homes.  Additionally, music therapists might work in prisons, substance abuse clinics and even pain/stress management centers.  You’ll also (potentially) be exposed to a wide range of clients, from toddlers to senior citizens.  Certainly, no matter where you ultimately end up, you can rest assured that your career will offer you a number of satisfying high notes (zing!).



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Don Munce