How Do I Become a Music Therapist?

Music therapy can be used to treat a plethora of conditions, such as anxiety and depression, but it can also be useful in helping with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease or in the management of pain associated with illnesses such as cancer. 

Music therapy is often used as a way to improve social skills, reduce feelings of loneliness, and to improve the mood. It has a positive impact on both mental and physical health and wellbeing. As the demand for music therapy has grown in recent times, so too has the demand for music therapists. Do you have what it takes to be a music therapist? Is this something that would interest you as a career choice? Read on then to find out what you need to qualify, and which attributes would make a good music therapist. 

How to Become a Music Therapist

A background in music is a must for a musical therapist but more than that though you would need to have a genuine interest in helping people. As most music therapists are employed within a healthcare setting, it is necessary for the individual to be patient, empathetic, and caring. 

Creativity and imagination are also incredibly important and those who work in music therapy must have a real love for it. The job involves learning new techniques to help patients young and old, and developing sessions based around the needs of the individual. 

To become a music therapist, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in music therapy. Music therapy degree courses include a thorough study of music therapy including its foundation and principles. In addition to this, you will learn about behavioral sciences, psychology, the disabilities and diseases that can be helped by music therapy, and music theory. There is a lot to learn to become a music therapist, and a bachelor’s degree can take around four years to achieve. 

The first year or two of the course will focus on general studies before moving on to more specialized areas of study such as neuroscience and music therapy. Courses will include both theory and practical work with students expected to take part in fieldwork where they can be taught how to apply the techniques they have learned.  

Most students will apply for an internship where they will gain more on-the-job experience before securing a full-time position when they are qualified. Before working within the healthcare industry as a qualified music therapist, approximately nine hundred hours of internship work is required. An internship usually takes place while the student is still at college, so it is worth looking around for an employer that can be flexible. 

While internships are a necessary part of the music therapist qualification process, they are also hugely beneficial for the student. According to the good folk at Maloca Sound, internships are a fantastic way to gain the confidence required to become a music therapist. They can be used to gain firsthand experience of what the job entails and can also be a wonderful way to network and secure important contacts. 

Some people will continue to study after gaining their bachelor’s degree in music therapy and will progress on to a master’s degree, although this is not necessary. The benefit of having a master’s degree though is being able to apply for a managerial position, as this course includes more advanced areas of study. Another two years of study is required to obtain a master’s degree. 

If you don’t want to stop there and really want to achieve a top-level qualification, you could continue to study for another two to four years for a doctoral degree, which would allow you to earn a much higher salary.

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