© 2019 Diana Miller

  • dianamillermusic

Music and Therapy

Music therapy is a field I've always been interested in as I've studied my own field: I do feel a lot of what we do in the music education world can sometimes be similar to what music therapists do. I started doing more in-depth research on exactly what Music Therapy is and isn't; and I wanted to share some of those discoveries with you today.


The American Music Therapy Association has an amazing website full of a ton of resources; many of the things I'll share today were learned on their website. To get started, here is a really neat clip about Larry, and what music therapy did for him after suffering a seizure later in his life.



Music therapy can be an amazing, life altering source of comfort for many different people. Before we get any further, I did want to dispel a few things about what music therapy IS and ISN'T according to the American Music Therapy Association.


Music therapists must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in music therapy from an accredited college or university, which includes 1200 hours of clinical training. Music therapists must hold their own credentials that are issued through the Certification Board for Music Therapists. They have to study and pass those board exams like many others in the medical field. Some states also require specific licenses for board-certified music therapists. Music Therapy is an evidence-based health profession with a strong research foundation. There are many clinical studies that prove the medical benefits and effects of music therapy on patients.


These are medical professionals with very specific knowledge who work with patients on very specific goals. Music therapy is NOT:


1. Famous people singing at hospitals

2. Music educators/teachers

3. A teacher playing background music while her class works

4. A piano player playing in a hotel lobby


What music therapists ACTUALLY do: (per the musictherapy.org site)

-Work with patients to regain speech after surviving a wounds and other injuries

-Work with older adults to lessen the effects of dementia.

-Work with children and adults to reduce asthma episodes.

-Work with hospitalized patients to reduce pain.

-Work with children who have autism to improve communication capabilities.

-Work with premature infants to improve sleep patterns and increase weight gain.

-Work with people who have Parkinson’s disease to improve motor function.

It's AMAZING that music can have such profound medical differences. The following video is lengthy in its entirely (20-25 minutes) but I'll give you specific places to visit.


1. Start at 9:25 (Nine minutes, twenty-five seconds in) to follow the story of Forrest, who couldn't talk at all after an accident, to completing learning how to speak again.


2. Start at 42:00. (Forty-two minutes in). They will discuss the medical benefits specifically of music therapy on cancer patients, and how it's used for pain managements. Watch for at least 10 minutes to see the two patients and difference music made for them.




The biggest takeaway we need to remember is that music therapy is a legitimate, science-based method of treatment for many individuals. If you visit the Association's official website, they offer many resources on very specific ways music therapy can help those with Alzheimer's, Autism, those in the military (PTSD), those in hospice, those in correctional facilities, in regards to trauma, and coping with emotions.


I learned that this is something I could easily add to my own knowledge base; I lack all of the necessary medical training despite having the musical training. My respect for this profession has exponentially increased, and I'm glad to know there are avenues out there to help heal people where traditional medical interventions have failed. I hope that this post has helped educate others to not only the legitimacy of music therapy, but as an option for treatment if you or ever a loved one may need it.


The next post will start focusing on how to actually read music! It will more than likely be another series! Thanks for reading.


-DMM