Music Therapy

If you have a passion for music, are patient and compassionate and have a genuine interest in helping others, you may be suited for a career in music therapy. Read on to learn more about the employment prospects and required education for music therapists.

Is Music Therapy For Me?

Career Overview

Music therapy involves the use of musical activities to improve a person's mental health. As a music therapist, you may work with other professionals, using music to help them treat a variety of illness and disabilities, ranging from psychiatric disorders and depression to hearing and vision impairment. You may also assist patients with memory improvement, stress reduction and exercise support.

Although specific therapies can vary by patient and condition, they may include recording feelings or reactions to certain types of music, free association writing and drawing exercises, memorizing lyrics or melodies, interpreting music and meditating. Music therapists can work in a wide range of health care and educational facilities, such as schools and learning centers, rehabilitation clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and correctional facilities.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of recreational therapists, including music therapists, was projected to grow by an average rate of 13% between 2012 and 2022. Growth is due, in part, to the increasing number of elderly adults and their decline in mental ability, which can often be treated with music therapy. Those with bachelor's degrees and certificate credentials should expect the best job opportunities (www.bls.gov). In March, 2014, the median annual salary for a music therapist was $38,865, as reported by PayScale.com.

How Can I Work in Music Therapy?

Overview of Educational Programs

Educational programs in music therapy are available at both the undergraduate and graduate degree levels. Core coursework can include topics in musical instrumentation, research and theory. Partnerships between a school's music and psychology department can also facilitate studies of the human mind. Areas of specialization can include jazz and classical music.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

An undergraduate music therapy curriculum can include courses in instrumentation and music theory, as well as human behavior, society and science. Internships typically begin in your junior year and may take place at a community health center, hospital, prison or school. Upon graduation, you may seek a position as a musical therapist or continue your schooling at the graduate level.

Graduate Degree Programs

In a graduate degree program in music therapy, you'll pursue topics in psychotherapy, develop your own theories, conduct research and acquire some teaching experience at the college level. You'll also become fluent in music medicine and study the quantitative and qualitative paradigms of research in music therapy. Master's degree programs usually require a thesis; as a doctoral student, you'll research, write and defend a dissertation.

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