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Music Therapy


            There is much more happening in a music therapy session than is visible to the eye. There is a diligent thought process behind all the singing and playing music. 

            My colleague Rachelle Norman from Kansas City, MO came up with 10 ways how music therapists do music differently than other musicians—volunteers or paid entertainers. (Copy and paste the following link into your browser for more information.  https://soundscapemusictherapy.com/2013/10/14/music-therapists-do-it-differently/)

These eloquent explanations sum up the specifics of clinical uses of music and underline the benefits of working with a credentialed music therapist.

  1. For music therapists, the starting point of session planning is always a client’s needs and goals. The quality of the performance and the activities happening in the session are secondary to what is going on with the client.
  2. Flexibility is central to the effectiveness of music therapists. That’s why music therapists adjust and adapt music right there and then according to client’s immediate needs in the moment.
  3. Music therapists are compelled to change or choose the tonality and range of the songs, compositions, or improvisations based on clients’ goals and needs. The original musical scores or esthetical values of a performance are secondary to the needs of the client in the moment.
  4. Music therapists adjust and modify tempo to address clinical concerns during individual or group sessions using ISO principle for entrainment. Entrainment is a result of the adaptive process where our bodies are trying to match the dominant rhythm in the environment.
  5. Music therapists facilitate a shift from thicker to thinner texture and the other way around to meet clinical purpose.
  6. Music therapists make rhythmic choices—meter, accent/syncopation, and tempo—with clients’ goals in mind.
  7. Music therapists employ not just sound but silence as well in order to develop the therapeutic relationship. Sound and silence are used to build an interactive relationship in music and to avoid overstimulation.
  8. Verbal interaction is a very important component of the therapeutic relationship in music therapy. Music therapists have to (a) decide when to talk; (b) choose what to say; (c) refine how they say it.
  9. Music therapists put much thought in providing respectful and age-appropriate music making during sessions. It takes clinical skills to choose when and how to invite people to play instruments.
  10. Music therapists support clients’ movements to music by, sometimes, encouraging and directing the movements and, sometimes, by reflecting and amplifying spontaneous movements of the clients.


I could add only one more point to these explanations:

  1. Music therapists carefully document the music making experiences with their clients according to the standards of music therapy practice. They are trained to conduct on-going assessments of the clinical processes that unfold during the sessions.

If you want to find out more about what music therapy is, watch these two videos: