To become a music therapist your sensitive and caring personality will work together with musical passion and ability.
Music therapists help people of all ages with a range of issues from emotional or psychological problems, to physical disabilities or illnesses.
You essentially use music to support wellbeing and the ability to interact. For people who struggle with communication and expressing emotions verbally, it can be a powerful alternative medium.
'Music therapist' is a title protected by law and can only be used by registered practitioners.
Qualified music therapists will hold a master’s degree in music therapy and possess a strong level of musicianship. As highly trained allied health professionals (AHPs), music therapists deliver treatment that can transform lives.
By studying here at City, University of London, you will prepare for working life as a music therapist in one of the greatest musical cities in the world. We combine world-leading research with exceptional teaching in performance, composition and musicology.
What can I expect from a career as a music therapist?
As a music therapist you may work in a variety of settings. These can include hospitals, schools, day centres, hospices, care homes, offices, therapy centres and prisons.
You may work on a one-to-one basis or lead sessions with groups. You may also form part of a multidisciplinary team alongside professionals such as speech and language therapists or physiotherapists.
Your clients can have various complex problems and a key part of your role will be to assess their specific needs and design a plan of music therapy with the best chance of achieving positive outcomes.
For an autistic child a positive outcome might be finding a way of communicating more effectively. For an older person suffering with dementia, a positive outcome might be helping them to feel recognised and valued.
Typical duties will include:
- Planning and providing appropriate music sessions
- Actively participating in music sessions and encouraging clients
- Exploring different musical styles and sounds through singing and percussion
- Maintaining records and case notes
- Reporting progress to families, carers and colleagues.
It is not your role to teach clients how to play an instrument or become musical. You use music to help people through developing a musical and therapeutic relationship.
Working in a clinical setting can mean you spend time formally collaborating with medical colleagues, but where clients have referred themselves the monitoring and reporting can be more relaxed.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming a music therapist, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career as a music therapist, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
Who can I work for as a music therapist?
Plenty of music therapists are self-employed as private practitioners, finding clients through the NHS and the education sector. You may find work at NHS trusts, hospitals, local education authorities, residential homes, nurseries, special schools or prisons.
Work might also be found through charities, social services or community projects.
As a relatively small profession, there is strong competition for music therapy jobs. Most are offered on part time or temporary contracts. Related opportunities can also be found in clinical work and research, supported by charitable organisations and trusts, or in universities.
What about work experience as a music therapist?
Relevant work experience is usually needed to earn a place on a postgraduate training course. It’s not compulsory for this to have had a musical element, providing you can demonstrate experience working with vulnerable people.
Any relevant work experience will give you a sense of the kind of environments where you might be working and the type of people with whom you will be working.
Many music therapists have considerable voluntary or paid experience in education, health or social care, before entering the profession full time. You should contact course administrators to find details of required experience.
What are my prospects as a music therapist?
Your prospects as a music therapist are generally positive. It is an emerging profession that continues to gain wider acceptance in new settings.
With experience, you may specialise in an area of expertise such as mental health or child development or focus on a small set of areas.
As a newly qualified music therapist you will be encouraged to run your own sessions to gain confidence and experience.
Eventually you might apply for senior posts within an organisation such as consultant music therapist, gaining managerial or training responsibilities.
You need to continuously work hard to build up a client base if you work for yourself. Some music therapists accept private practice work as well as working for an employer.