Music Therapy is an interesting and emerging field where musicians act as professionals for clients in need of an alternative form of emotional and physical therapy. Although it might seem as if music therapy is an easy to write off profession by traditional performance majors, the truth is that this is a legitimate field with a lot of scientific backing.
Music therapists must be well-versed in traditional and contemporary harmony, sensory processing, ethnomusicology, and how the human body relates to music, known as “embodied music cognition. Many prospective patients require referrals from a primary care physician to become a client of a professional music therapist.
Music therapy has been shown in scientific studies to show medical benefit, including reducing heart rate and blood pressure in those with coronary heart disease. It has also become an increasingly accepted treatment for treating neurological disorders, including schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, and amnesia.
To become a music therapist, one must successfully graduate from a college program that offers music therapy as a degree choice. Some good colleges for music therapy include the Berklee College of Music, Arizona State University, and Michigan State University, among many others. For a complete listing of colleges, check out this list of schools created by the Music Therapy Source website.
Music therapists are employed in a wide range of places, including universities, daycares, as independent specialists, and even in correctional facilities.
According to MusicTherapy.org, the average salary for a music therapist in 2011 was close to $50,000. However, the salary range for a music therapist can range very widely, with some reported salaries as low as $20,000 and some as high as $188,000, according to the same website. It does seem to be a growing career that is gaining respect in the musical and medical communities, and I would not be surprised if in ten years time the average salary would jump to $65,000 – $70,000.
Best Colleges for Music Therapy
I plan to do some research and reach out to professional music therapists soon, but at the moment, I have not published a list for the best music therapy schools in the nation. However, I do know that some programs are excellent. Based on my current knowledge, the following schools graduate music therapists that have consistently landed excellent employment positions in the nation.
- Arizona State University – Phoenix, MA
- Berklee College of Music – Boston, MA
- Florida State University – Tallahassee, FL
- Michigan State University – East Lansing, MI
- Nazareth College – Rochester, NY
- SUNY Fredonia – Fredonia, NY