Music therapy is a growing field of study, but before you enroll in a college program of this type, you need to get an idea about where music therapists work. According to the American Music Therapy Association, those working in this field must complete a degree program that requires they do a minimum of 1,200 hours of clinical work, which gives them a better understanding of what their patients need and what they do when working with those patients. Therapists specializing in music work in a number of different places and with a wide range of patients.
Retirement and Nursing Homes
Potential employers include both nursing homes and retirement homes. Some therapists believe that music can help those with Alzheimer’s slow down the progression of the disease. They help those patients create a playlist that features some of the songs they loved from over the years and songs attached to their memories. They may listen to some of the same songs they played in high school, danced to at their weddings or heard their children sing. Therapists can also use music as a way to help the elderly get and stay active to improve their mental and physical health.
Hospitals use music in a few different ways. Some facilities use music as a way to maintain a calming and soothing environment for patients, their loved ones and those working in the hospital. This can include a live musician playing in the lobby or a therapist who selects music that plays in patients’ rooms. Hospitals also need therapists capable of selecting music to play in all public areas of the facility, including the cafeteria and gift shop. Some hospitals hire therapists to work directly with patients and to use music as a way to promote healing.
Some music therapists also work in schools. They can work with children as young as those in preschool and with older children too. Therapists often travel to multiple schools or school districts and use music as a way to foster communication between kids and teachers. They play songs on instruments and use playlists on electronic devices to get others excited about music. Therapists may also work in schools and group lead therapy sessions. They use music as a way to help students cope with their behavioral issues and disabilities. Those working in schools are also responsible for creating treatment plans for each student and meeting with the parents and guardians of students to discuss their progress.
If you love singing and/or playing an instrument, you might consider using your degree to work for a private company. A private company hires singers and musicians to go into hospitals, schools and other settings to play music for residents. The downside to working for a private company is that those companies often hire part-time workers and may only give you a few hours of work every week. Some therapists actually take on full-time jobs and work for private companies on the weekends.
Music therapy is a discipline that looks at how different types of music can impact a person’s thoughts, behaviors and overall health. Though music therapists need a college degree and may need a license or certificate too, your degree qualifies you for working in hospitals, schools, retirement and nursing homes and for private companies.