teen writing a letterFrom time to time, I and other music therapists receive letters like this:

Dear music therapist:
I am a student at (insert school). In (insert a course) we are doing a paper on (insert topic). I  have chosen to do mine on music therapy. Would you answer some questions about music therapy and your experiences in school and as a professional. …
Sharing my path, my profession, and my experiences is a joy. Here are answers the frequently asked “Dear Music Therapist” questions I am asked.
1) Where did you attend college? Did they have a good Music Therapy program?
I attended the University of Kansas. (Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU) The program has a great reputation. It is currently one of 66 programs for entry-level music therapy education.
2) What internship were you involved in after college?
My internship was at Parsons State Hospital and Training Center in Parsons, KS.  There I worked with individuals from kindergarten through their mid 60’s with various developmental disabilities.
3) What types of courses were you required to take?
The short answer is music, music therapy, and related course work. As I completed my degree in the early 1980’s, some of the specifics have changed. I encourage you to see the specifics listed on the American Music Therapy Association page “Becoming a Music Therapist“.
4) Did you attend any additional schooling after your first years in college?
All board certified music therapists are required to continue their education either through continuing education events, advanced degrees, research or other scholarly activities. I have elected to participate in continuing education opportunities rather than an advanced degree.
5) What do you do now?
I am a self-employed music therapist who works with young children, older adults, and both together (intergenerational groups).

6) What do you like best about your profession? What do you like least?

The creativity, the melding of art & science and the responding to a client’s interests, needs and abilities is what I like best about my profession. There isn’t a “sing three choruses of song x” treatment.  Being focused on the moment, the client and the desired outcome guides my work.

The thing I like least is the challenge of encouraging people to share music while creating understanding that sharing music isn’t music therapy. This was well stated by the young son of a music therapist: “someone who is not trained but says that they do music therapy is like me saying that I can do construction because I’ve played with Legos.”

What questions do you have for a music therapist?

Place them in the comments below. My colleagues and I will do our best to answer them.

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