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 settings. 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:
- American Music Therapy Association (hyperlink www.musictherapy.org)
- Southwestern Region, American Music Therapy Association (www.swamta.com)
- Certification Board for Music Therapists (www.cbmt.org)
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.
Music Therapy Faculty:
Undergraduate Studies in Music Therapy
For more information, contact the School of Music at firstname.lastname@example.org or 936-294-1360.
Graduate Studies in Music Therapy
SHSU is currently not admitting new students for the Master of Music in Music Therapy at this time. Please contact the School of Music office if you have any questions.
School of Music
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, Texas 77341
Phone: (936) 294-1360
Fax: (936) 294-3765