How to become a Music Therapist

Music therapists provide therapeutic programmes through the planned and controlled use of music to help people of all ages, including those with special needs because of social, emotional, psychiatric, physical or intellectual impairments.

Personal requirements of a Music Therapist

  • An appreciation for a wide range of music styles
  • High level of musical ability
  • Able to respect and relate to people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds

Education & Training for a Music Therapist

To become a music therapist you usually have to complete a degree followed by a postgraduate qualification in music therapy. Graduates with a degree in teaching, music, occupational therapy, nursing, psychology or a relevant allied health field can be considered for postgraduate degrees if they possess an appropriate level of musical experience and practice on a particular instrument. To get into the degree courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. Applicants may also be required to attend an audition and undertake a musicianship test. Entry to postgraduate courses usually requires completion of an appropriate bachelor degree. A number of institutions in Australia offer these degrees. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information. For full details, refer to the entries on the website at www.goodcareersguide.com.au or university handbooks.

Duties & Tasks of a Music Therapist

Music therapists may perform the following tasks:

  • assess individuals and groups to identify abilities and needs, and develop objectives that address clients’ needs
  • plan and carry out specific music-making activities to address the client’s needs and concerns, such as singing, moving to music, reflective music listening, playing music, music and drama, improvisation, song writing and other creative activities
  • assess, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the musical and therapeutic interactions.

Working conditions for a Music Therapist

Music therapists require a large repertoire of popular songs relevant to all age groups, and the ability to explore, interpret and develop the creative use of sound. Music therapists work with children and adults in individual and group settings.

Employment Opportunities for a Music Therapist

Music therapists work in homes, schools, childcare centres, community support groups, hospitals, clinics, community centres, aged-care facilities, hospices, rehabilitation centres and centres for people with disability. Music therapists are also employed in private practice. Job opportunities depend on the number of people in the community requiring this type of service, level of awareness in the community of the benefits of music therapy and government policy, legislation and funding for community health care, education and social services.

Additional Information
On successful completion of an appropriate course, graduates may be eligible for registration with the Australian Music Therapy Association. Employers are increasingly looking to hire music therapists registered with the association.
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