I would imagine that this is a pretty common conversation for people in the music therapy profession.
So, what do you do? I’m a music therapist. Oh really? That’s cool. [pause] Now, what is that exactly?
When I was an undergrad, it seemed like the million dollar question was on every single exam. “WHAT IS MUSIC THERAPY?” The purpose of the question was to have the student develop their own definition and be ready to answer when someone makes the inevitable inquiry.
For me, the way I explain it changes every time. I always include something about how it’s the use of music in a therapeutic setting to accomplish goals and objectives based on the client needs. I usually give a few examples from my own work, such as singing to help with speech or instrument playing to help with physical needs. I also highlight that music therapists work with kids and adults in all kinds of settings. Usually, one of the misconceptions I come across is that people think it’s just to help with relaxation, and give examples of how they listen to music in the car. I try to give the impression that there’s a lot more to it, but it’s difficult to do in a short period of time. I find that it’s easier to explain music therapy if I can have a conversation. That way, questions can be asked that I might not think of if I’m just giving the Elevator Speech.
I’ve added a new page to the top of this blog giving a definition of music therapy for anyone who may not be in the profession and may have questions. Please take a look and let me know if you see any glaring omissions (or errors). Thanks for reading!