Updated: Oct 1, 2018
Music AND therapy? How do the 2 fit together?
In this week’s blog, I’ll be sharing with you briefly my journey towards becoming a music therapist.
As you may have already guessed, I had a passion for music growing up. I enjoyed singing from a young age and I loved listening to various styles of music. I started off with piano lessons in the middle of grade school and continued to explore learning different instruments (i.e., clarinet and French horn) from music class in school. If I wasn’t playing and practicing in school, I was always listening to music at home.
Fast-forward to university where I decided to continue pursuing music. It wasn’t until I approached my 3rd year at Wilfrid Laurier University that I started to seriously consider my future career path. At this point, I could choose to specialize in a specific study of music. I knew that I had an interest and background in music, but I also knew that I had an interest and ability in psychology and counseling. You could say that I was divided between choosing a career path in music or in counseling services.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to choose between the two fields because I was able to apply for the music therapy program, which seemed to combine both my interests. It was during my final 2 years of university where I learned more about psychology, diagnoses, and various client populations. I also began to learn about using music intentionally, in order to meet clinical aims and objectives. I began to gain clinical experience through placements, working in individual and group settings with clients with developmental delays and older adults in long-term care facilities.
It was also during my 4th year where I learned about the crossover between music and medicine. I learned about the field of Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) and how music perception and music production influences the brain. At this point in time, I began to learn about using music for training and retraining (rehabilitative) purposes, where music could be used to address functional, non-musical goals in motor training, speech/language training, and cognitive training.
Following my graduation from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelors of Music Therapy and Minor in Psychology, I completed my Neurologic Music Therapy Training shortly before beginning my internship program. During my internship, I completed the required clinical hours and supervision necessary to take my board examination. During this time, I continued to hone my skills as a clinician and as a musician.
After successful completion of my board examination, I received my Music Therapist Accreditation (MTA) and continued learning more about music, neuroscience, and Neurologic Music Therapy through the Masters of Music and Health Sciences program at the University of Toronto. During this time, I continued to develop my understanding of how music affects the brain and how this can be used clinically in order to (re)train functional behaviours. I also continued to build on my clinical knowledge and experience, as I learned to use standardized assessments in order to measure therapeutic progress and as I practiced using NMT techniques related to motor training, speech/language training, and cognitive training.
In summary, I decided to become a music therapist because music and therapy are gifts that can be used to serve people’s needs and abilities, in order to provide support and care for all people on their journey of realizing potential and shaping health through music.