World Music Therapy Day (March 1st)

First off, I’d like say to all my fellow music therapists, interns, students, clients, and advocates for our profession (you know who you are!)— Happy World Music Therapy Day!!!

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Being in this profession, we get a lot of the same question…

“So, what is music therapy, anyway?”

I thought today would be the perfect day to answer!

Music therapy is a research-driven field that uses music interventions to target individualized, NON-musical goals. It is provided within a therapeutic relationship by someone who has completed a music therapy degree program, an extensive 6-month internship, and passed a national board-certification exam.

Now that we’ve got our definition, let’s break it down…

  1. Music therapy is evidence-based.

This means our profession is constantly progressing with new research and evidence that music works in certain ways. The rise of technology has brought about new and more efficient ways of researching, including brain imaging studies that show the power of music on the brain!

Here’s a really interesting TED talk about the impact improvisation has on the brain!

2. We work on NON-musical goals. 

Our goal isn’t to get Susie to play Hot Cross Buns on the piano. We want her to improve her finger dexterity so she can do functional things like tie her shoes. And once she’s built up those muscles, we’re going to use a song to teach her just that!

This is a very basic and generic example, but I want to place an emphasis on the fact that learning musical skills is either a by-product, or a segway to a skill that helps give clients their best possible quality of life.

More examples of music therapy goals:

  • improve impulse control
  • orientation to day and time
  • increase length of utterances/phrases
  • improve bilateral body movement
  • encourage self-regulation skills
  • teach personal information
  • increase sustained attention

3. Music therapy is provided by a credentialed professional.

The 4-letter credential we work so hard to add to our names is unique to us, and is rightfully earned after completing a degree program with internship, totaling 1,200 clinical hours (yes, 1,200), and sitting down for a comprehensive exam that confirms our competency in knowledge of music, human development, therapeutic domains, and more.

Then, every 5 years, the MT-BC must submit at least 100 Continuing Music Therapy Education (CMTE) hours. This encourages music therapists to continue growing professionally past graduation and ensures the music therapist maintains competence to provide music therapy.

So there it is. An extremely brief overview music therapy. Feel free to comment with questions or suggestions for change, share, and like!!

For even more interesting and educational information, you can visit or