Music Related

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Music Therapy

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted over on The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is whatever you want to talk about! You had the option of going back and doing an old one you missed, or doing a topic of your choice. Obviously, I’m going for the latter.

I’m going rather off topic from the usual bookish themes, in lieu of talking about something that is really important to me. For those of you who don’t know, I am an accredited music therapist in Canada. I run a small company that works with infants all the way through to seniors, in a variety of different settings.

Because music therapy is still a rather new profession, I wanted to share some things about my job that you might find interesting. It was really hard to choose only ten, but hopefully, this will give you an idea of what it is that I do.

1. First of all: what is it? 

The Canadian Association for Music Therapy defines it as:
Music therapy is the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication, and personal development.

2. The use of music for healing isn’t new, but the profession as we know it came around in the aftermath of WW1 and WW2.

There are writings on the benefits of music for the mind and body as far back as our great philosophers. But music therapy in the sense we understand it today started when people noticed how injured soldiers and victims of the world wars were reacting to music being played in the hospital.

3. Music is a basic function of our brain, and stimulates a number of different areas of the brain.

Newborn babies will react to changes in music and the patterns of rhythm and melody. This doesn’t change as we get older. It’s part of the reason that music can help people with Alzheimer’s recall memories they had previously forgotten.

4. Music therapy is based in research.

It might look like fun and games, but there is a scientific reason that music therapists do the things we do. We are not just making it up on the spot.

5. Music therapy is not just for people with disabilities. 

It’s true that most of our work is with people with special needs. But typical or healthy people can benefit from the socialization, self-expression, and coping skills that music therapy can provide.

6. You don’t need to have any music ability to participate in music therapy. 

Whether or not you can play an instrument, sing, or even tap a steady rhythm, you can still benefit from music therapy. Your music therapist does not care one little bit about how talented you are.

7. There is no one type of music that can magically help you. 

Actually, the music that will benefit you the most is the music you love the most. Some people will get the most benefit from their connections to rap music, while others will do best with classical. It just depends on what you like.

8. We have lots of training to do our job. 

Music therapists in Canada have to have a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in music therapy. Once we finish school, we are required to complete at 1000-hour internship with an approved supervisor, and write a board exam before we are accredited. And it doesn’t end there. Once we are accredited, we are required to do continuing education to maintain our certification.

9. It’s more than just singing and playing instruments.

We do lots of that, but we also use songwriting, verbal discussion and counselling, rhythmic exercises, movement, improvisation, and many other interventions to help our clients achieve their goals.

10. Every client or group we work with has their own individual goals. This means that no two sessions will ever look the same, even if they use the same interventions and songs.

Some people need more support with their motor movement, some with their emotions, some with communication. Every person is unique, and so are their goals, which means that we have to adjust our songs and interventions to ensure that it meets the specific goals of the client.

I hope that gives you some idea about what music therapy is. It’s a hard thing to talk about, because there is so much that goes into the profession and so many things that it can help with. If you have any questions, please send them my way! I love talking about my job!

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12 thoughts on “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Music Therapy

    1. It’s a lot of work, but it’s so worth it! You’ll love it!
      Assuming you’re still in the education part of the journey, my best advice is to learn as many songs and interventions as you can now. The more you’ve got down when you get to actually running sessions, the easier it is.
      Feel free to shoot me any questions you have. I love talking about what I do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. I’m only just getting started. Here in the UK Music therapy is a masters level course, and I’m a long way off even getting the basic entry requirments. I think that what need to do is to get some volunteering under my belt to beef up my CV. (-: I will keep in touch, as the topic fasinate me and I see the healing power of music in my daily work. And Music has healed me, but that’s another story.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This was such a wonderful and informative post. I don’t play any kind of music, but listening to music has helped with my mental illnesses so much. My doctor actually told me that music is one of the best therapies available. I can’t even express in words how important music is to me. I love how much it can impact and help people. It’s definitely underestimated. This must be such an amazing field to be a part of!

    Liked by 1 person

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