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Career in Music Therapy

As Oliver Sacks, a best-selling author and professor of neurology, once said, “Music can lift us out of depression or move us to tears – it is a remedy, a tonic, orange juice for the ear. But for many of my neurological patients, music is even more – it can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life. For them, music is not a luxury, but a necessity.” Music therapy utilizes this extraordinary power of music to improve and maintain the physical, psychological, and social well-being of individuals.

Although music therapy was very recently acknowledged by us, but we can find traces of music therapy back in the early 1800s. The earliest known reference to music therapy appeared in 1789: an article in Columbian Magazine titled Music Physically Considered. The first recorded music therapy intervention & systematic experiments in music therapy were conducted in the 1800s.

In the year 1991, Bruscia defined music therapy as ‘an interpersonal process in which the therapist uses music and all of its facets to help patients to improve, restore or maintain health’ (Maratos, Gold, Wang & Crawford, 2008).

Later, in 1998, Bruscia suggested another alternative definition of music therapy as ‘a systematic process of intervention wherein the therapist helps the client to promote health, using musical experiences and the relationships that develop through them as dynamic forces of change

What do music therapists do?

Music therapist is a specialist who uses music as a medication to help patients feel better about their health and wellbeing. They work in a variety of settings with a variety of different patients or clients. They use music to help patients in settings such as schools, hospitals, mental health service locations, and nursing homes. They then evaluate each client’s needs and also get to know their musical preferences and craft a treatment plan, using music, that is unique to that individual.

*Do You Know - According to Greek mythology, Orpheus used the power of music to save his lost love from the darkness of the underworld. *


As every other field, Music Therapy too has various requirements that are necessary to fulfil. To understand the requirements better, I’ve listed it down in 3 categories:

a) Education –

To be eligible to become a Music Therapist the minimum desired qualification for the aspiring candidates is with music as main subjects followed by some certificate or Diploma course in Music Therapy.But nowadays it has become a necessity for the aspirants toat least hold a degree in music along with the knowledge of biology, psychology, physiology, social or behavioural sciences. There are colleges in abroad who provide a proper degree in Music Therapy in which they combine music and all the psychological knowledge required for utilizing music in a therapy. The various Institutions that provide proper training and certificates in this field are listed below:

I. Chennai School of Music Therapy

Contact - +91 8754424770

II. Centre for Music Therapy Education and Research

Contact - +91 04132615449

III. MET Institute of Alternative Careers

IV. Rayat Bahra University

Contact - +91 9780040777

V. Nada Centre for Music Therapy

Contact - +91 9891184950

VI. The Indian Association of Music Therapy

VII. Kalawardhan Academy

Contact - +91 9827234770

b) Skills –Along with proper education, variousspecific skills are required to pursue Music Therapy. Important one’s are listed below:

· As a Music Therapist is to deal with people suffering from some kind of mental problem, they must have a desire to help and offer emotional support to their clients as well as the families of their clients.

· Healing touch skills like empathy, patience, imagination and creativity are a must.

· High level of musical instinct and an appreciation for a wide range of music systems.

· Excellent communication skills and ability to connect with people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds.

· Awareness of health or safety measures.

· Good in managing times, tactful, good listener and caring attitude.

· Should also have dedication, concentration and zeal to serve patients in the best possible way.

c) Knowledge –

· Psychology - Knowledge of human behaviour and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioural and affective disorders.

· TherapyandCounselling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counselling and guidance.

· FineArts - Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.

· EmpathyforPatients - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing care and handling patients with empathy. This includes patient's needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of progress.

· SociologyandAnthropology - Knowledge of group behaviour and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.

· EducationandTraining - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

· PhilosophyandTheology - Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.

· CommunicationsandMedia -

Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and aware via written, oral, and visual media.

· AdministrationandManagement - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modelling, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

· Musical instruments and soundsKnowledge of various musical instruments and sound is necessary to understand the vibration of each tune and its effects on human behaviour.

Job Outlook

A qualified Music Therapist can set up their own practice. They can partner with hospitals or multidisciplinary centres, mental health clinics. Music Therapists can also work with NGOs or educational institutes like schools, colleges as visiting or in-house therapists and earn as well serve the society. Music therapy in India is very new and thus needs a lot of awareness in people to appreciate it.

Average Income

Earnings of music therapists rely on so many factors, such as place, form of company, therapist experience and qualifications.

Newly certified music therapist may receive Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 a month.

With a few years of professional experience and acquired reputation, one can receive up to Rs.20,000 to Rs.25,000 every month and more.

Frequently Asked Questions

a. What is music therapy?

Ans.: Music therapy is a treatment that requires a trained and licensed specialist who uses music in a therapeutic and evidentiary way to achieve the individual purpose of each patient.

b. What does a music therapist do on a daily basis?

Ans.: Music Therapists plan, organize, or direct medically prescribed music therapy activities designed to positively influence patients’ psychological or behavioural status. They also design or provide music therapy experiences to address client needs, such as using music for self-care, adjusting to life changes, improving cognitive functioning, raising self-esteem, communicating, or controlling impulses.

c. What type of patients do music therapists work with?

Ans.: MusicTherapistsworkwith everyone from children and the elderly, to Alzheimer's patients, clients with substance abuse problems, physical disabilities, brain injuries, and mental health problems.

d. What are the different types of music therapy?

Ans.: There are several types such as:

· Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music.

· Dalcroze Eurhythmics.

· Kodaly.

· Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT)

· Nordoff-Robbins.

· Orff – Schulwerk, etc.

e. What are the working hours of a Music Therapist?

Ans.: Most of them work on weekdays from 9 am – 5 pm.

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