If you read “Music Therapy: Making a Difference One Note at a Time” and you have been following the press releases about the role of music in Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from traumatic brain injury, you may be wondering if you should enter this profession. If so, how would you go about selecting a music therapy program?
Here are several suggestions:
Read, Read, Read
The website of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is a great place to start. Then you can move on to numerous books and articles concerning music therapy. Reading will continue to inform you, through case example and theoretical explanation, what the work is really all about. Reading also forms a basis for intelligent questions when you meet with faculty interviewing you for their programs.
Observe Music Therapy
Contact AMTA for regional information where you can find music therapists to observe. Seeing is believing, and you may even want to volunteer with a music therapist for a period of time to decide if this is truly the profession for you. That was what I did many years ago.
Consider These Criteria:
Proximity to clinical facilities is particularly important during training in a music therapy program. You do not want to be in the middle of nowhere no matter how beautiful it is.
Strength of Music School
Training as a musician is integral to your role as a music therapist. The strength of the music school in terms of faculty, students, ensemble offerings, and curriculum is key, no pun intended.
Strength of Academic Offerings
Music therapy is truly an interdisciplinary art and science. You want to be at a school with a strong general education component, opportunities for developing your writing ability, and connections with a strong psychology department.
Accredited Music Therapy Program
Accredited academic programs in music therapy are indicated on the AMTA website. Don’t let an institution advise you that you can become a music major and a psychology minor and go on to practice music therapy! Music therapy has been an independent academic training program since 1950.
Look for programs where there is diversity of faculty: at least two full-time faculty, preferably supplemented with adjunct faculty, with varying areas of expertise and clinical experience.
Clinical Training Opportunity
Ask specific questions about how much clinical training opportunity each program provides and if you will receive both on-site and faculty supervision.
Music therapy is an intensive and demanding curriculum that requires a smaller class size, ideally no larger than 20.