Frequently Asked Questions about Music Therapy
What is a music practitioner and how are they different from a music therapist?
Certified music practitioners are musicians who trained through the Music for the Healing and Transition Program. Music practitioners are similar to music thanatologists; although, they play for individuals in hospital settings and not just for the dying. The training for a certified music practitioner involves 40 hours of performing music at the bedside, along with modules on self care, repertoire, etc. Board-certified music therapists are musicians who have a bachelor’s degree from a curriculum approved through the American Music Therapy Association. These degree programs typically involve 160 hours of undergraduate college coursework and a clinical internship that is approximately 6 months long.
What is music thanatology?
Music thanatology is a craft where musicians perform music at the bedside of a dying patient. The music that is used is considered “prescriptive”, meaning that it is performed live and is fluid based on the physiological status of the patient, such as breathing rates. Therese Schroeder-Sheker is the founder of music thanatology as a professional field. The training of a music thanatologist involves a 2 year training program at Chalice of Repose in Montana.
Do I have to have musical training to benefit from music therapy?
No, you do not to have any formal music training to benefit from music therapy. Music therapists are responsible for providing a successful experience based on your current needs and therapeutic goals. Music therapists are trained to make accommodations based on your previous experiences.
How do I find out more information about music therapy careers?
The American Music Therapy Association and the Certification Board for Music Therapists provide information about music therapy education, careers, and where to find music therapists.
Will music make me or my children smarter?
There is no sound scientific evidence that listening to music will make anyone smarter. There was a study published in the mid 1990s suggesting that listening to classical music composed by Mozart would enhance learning and reasoning. Several studies have tried to repeat the conclusions from this study with mixed results.
However, there is very clear evidence that being involved in a music education curriculum (playing a music instrument or singing) can enhance learning, cooperation, self-discipline, and academic achievement. Older adults can benefit from music making or learning how to play a musical instruments as well as an adolescent. Some of the benefits for older adults include better sleep and increased socialization.
Is one type of music better than another?
No. The choice of music used in a music therapy assessment is based on the problems identified through a comprehensive assessment. One of the most important things during a music therapy assessment is a discussion about your music preferences. Listening to music you don’t care for does nothing to improve your mood, decrease pain or anxiety.