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Frequently Asked Questions

Specifically, how does music work in a music therapy setting?

First, if we can extend the definition of "music" in "music therapy" to include playing, listening, creating, improvising, moving, singing or performing, we can see that involving individuals in any of these aspects of music might begin to address some specific clinical needs for that individual. These needs may be physical, emotional, social, cognitive or even spiritual. So it is not just the music itself that is providing the specific therapeutic effect but also the context in which the designated client is involved with the music.

How long will it take to complete a degree with a concentration in music therapy?

The well-motivated student can complete all of the academic course work toward the degree in four years. It is sometimes useful to consider the taking of one or two summer sessions to contribute to the completion of this course work. Additionally, the student is required to complete an internship. Upon the successful completion of this internship, the student has then fulfilled all of the requirements for the Bachelor's degree in Music (B.M.) with a Concentration in Music Therapy and may sit for the national certification exam.

What can you tell me about the internship in music therapy?

At Radford University, once you have completed all of the academic course work for the degree, an internship must be completed before the actual conferring of the degree takes place. This internship is typically six months in length (at forty hours per week) and can be done anywhere in the country at a site approved by theAmerican Music Therapy Association (AMTA) which is the same organization that approves the music therapy program here at Radford University.

Where do most music therapists find jobs when they complete the academic training?

Traditionally, music therapists have been employed by state and private institutions that serve people with disabilities and people with special needs. These can include state and private psychiatric facilities, homes or institutions for people with developmental disabilities and Veteran's Affairs Medical Centers. However, trends over the past decade find music therapists employed by school districts (working with children with special needs), nursing homes and extended care facilities, general medical settings, hospice, physical rehabilitation institutes as well as in private practice. As the profession continues to grow and mature, the opportunities for the application of music therapy techniques grows as well.

Which is more important in the field of music therapy, being a strong musician or being a strong therapist?

As with all music degrees, the development of strong music skills is essential. In the profession of music therapy, music is our tool. Music is, in a sense, our co-therapist, and, as such, our relationship with the music carries a high degree of importance. That relationship is, in part, developed through the disciplined and demanding training in the art. The musical skills of the individual are a very important aspect of the total music therapist. In addition to music development, a music therapist must possess good interpersonal skills. This includes an ability to work with others, to be open-minded and to value the unique qualities of all people, young and old.