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Music Therapists Career

Career Description

Plan, organize, or direct medically prescribed music therapy activities designed to positively influence patients' psychological or behavioral status.

What Job Titles Music Therapists Might Have

  • Board Certified Music Therapist
  • Clinician
  • Director
  • Private Music Therapy Agency
  • Music Therapist

What Music Therapists Do

  • Design or provide music therapy experiences to address client needs, such as using music for self-care, adjusting to life changes, improving cognitive functioning, raising self-esteem, communicating, or controlling impulses.
  • Assess client functioning levels, strengths, and areas of need in terms of perceptual, sensory, affective, communicative, musical, physical, cognitive, social, spiritual, or other abilities.
  • Sing or play musical instruments, such as keyboard, guitar, or percussion instruments.
  • Design music therapy experiences, using various musical elements to meet client's goals or objectives.
  • Document evaluations, treatment plans, case summaries, or progress or other reports related to individual clients or client groups.
  • Communicate with clients to build rapport, acknowledge their progress, or reflect upon their reactions to musical experiences.
  • Observe and document client reactions, progress, or other outcomes related to music therapy.
  • Establish client goals or objectives for music therapy treatment, considering client needs, capabilities, interests, overall therapeutic program, coordination of treatment, or length of treatment.
  • Engage clients in music experiences to identify client responses to different styles of music, types of musical experiences, such as improvising or listening, or elements of music, such as tempo or harmony.
  • Customize treatment programs for specific areas of music therapy, such as intellectual or developmental disabilities, educational settings, geriatrics, medical settings, mental health, physical disabilities, or wellness.
  • Plan or structure music therapy sessions to achieve appropriate transitions, pacing, sequencing, energy level, or intensity in accordance with treatment plans.
  • Improvise instrumentally, vocally, or physically to meet client's therapeutic needs.
  • Confer with professionals on client's treatment team to develop, coordinate, or integrate treatment plans.
  • Integrate behavioral, developmental, improvisational, medical, or neurological approaches into music therapy treatments.
  • Communicate client assessment findings and recommendations in oral, written, audio, video, or other forms.
  • Select or adapt musical instruments, musical equipment, or non-musical materials, such as adaptive devices or visual aids, to meet treatment objectives.
  • Analyze or synthesize client data to draw conclusions or make recommendations for therapy.
  • Participate in continuing education.
  • Analyze data to determine the effectiveness of specific treatments or therapy approaches.
  • Compose, arrange, or adapt music for music therapy treatments.
  • Collaborate with others to design or implement interdisciplinary treatment programs.
  • Assess the risks and benefits of treatment termination for clients.
  • Supervise staff, volunteers, practicum students, or interns engaged in music therapy activities.
  • Identify and respond to emergency physical or mental health situations.
  • Gather diagnostic data from sources such as case documentation, observations of clients, or interviews with clients or family members.
  • Conduct or assist in the conduct of music therapy research.
  • Conduct information sharing sessions, such as in-service workshops for other professionals, potential client groups, or the general community.
  • Adapt existing or develop new music therapy assessment instruments or procedures to meet an individual client's needs.
  • Apply current technology to music therapy practices.
  • Apply selected research findings to practice.

What Music Therapists Should Be Good At

  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

What Music Therapists Should Be Interested In

  • Artistic - Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
  • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

What Music Therapists Need to Learn

  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Therapy and Counseling - Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.
  • Fine Arts - Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Sociology and Anthropology - Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Median Salary: $46,410

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.