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Music Therapy

What is Music Therapy?

The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as "the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." (American Music Therapy Association definition, 2005)

Music has been used as a therapeutic tool for centuries. Music therapy has been recognized as an organized profession since the formation of the National Association for Music Therapy in 1950. Today, music therapists work with many different populations in various setting. In each of these settings, music is used as a tool to reach nonmusical goals, whether physical, cognitive, emotional, social or spiritual. The techniques used during sessions are based on research and extended collegiate study.

Among many possible goals addressed by music therapists might be:

  • Increasing memory recall
  • Improving motor coordination
  • Increasing attention to task
  • Improving steadiness of gait
  • Developing bonds between mother and newborn child
  • Improving speech and communication
  • Increasing reality-based thinking
  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Decreasing pain
  • Adjusting mood
  • Increasing coping skills

Some of the various settings in which music therapists work include:

  • Special Education Programs and Special Schools
  • Nursing Homes
  • Medical Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Hospice and Palliative Care Programs
  • Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Private Practices and Music Therapy Agencies

For more information about music therapy as a career, please see the following professional organizations:

Who Should Consider A Career In Music Therapy?

Music therapists are both accomplished musicians and competent therapists. A career in music therapy requires a high degree of musical flexibility, as therapists effectively utilize music that is familiar to and preferred by their clients. Skills in piano, guitar, voice, music improvisation, song writing, conducting, and music theory are but a few of those possessed by the music therapist.

The music therapist must be a compassionate person dedicated to improving the lives of others in specific and individualized ways. Music therapists are caring, nurturing professionals interested in using music as a tool to meet non-musical, health-related needs. Therapists must be emotionally stable and must demonstrate mature, professional behavior both within and outside the classroom environment.

Many students who pursue music therapy have interests both in music-related fields and in psychology, neurology and medicine, or special education.

Undergraduate Studies in Music Therapy

All incoming students must complete a live interview to be considered for admission.

Click here for information about degree requirements.

For more information, contact:

Karen E. Miller, MM, MT-BC
Fellow, Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy
Director of Music Therapy

Director of Music Therapy
School of Music
Box 2208
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas 77341

Phone: (936) 294-1376
Fax: (936) 294-3765
Email: karenmiller@shsu.edu

Graduate Studies in Music Therapy

We have a new Master's Program in Music Therapy. Please click here for more information.

Hayoung A. Lim, Ph.D., MT-BC
Fellow, Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy
Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Music Therapy

Director of Graduate Studies in Music Therapy
School of Music
Box 2208
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas 77341-2208

Phone: 936-294-3261
Fax: 936-294-3765
Email: halim@shsu.edu

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