What interested you in becoming a Music Therapist?
My whole family loves music and I was always singing around the house with them. Music was something I would listen to for support or for expression. I was also the friend that people would come to for a listening ear. When I discovered music therapy, I realized that I could combine two of the parts of my life that I enjoyed the most and I really haven’t looked back!
What physical and/or soft skills do you need to have to succeed?
You need to be proficient with voice, guitar, and piano and any other instruments are a great bonus! I think having a love and passion for music, in general, will set you up to love what you’re doing. It’s also really important to have compassion and empathy for others as well as a lot of self-awareness.
What advice would you give to interested students?
Spend time networking with music therapists and ask to observe them in their practice. Music therapy does require a lot of work because you’re learning to be a therapist and a musician and using them together-- both of which take time and practice. If you really feel passionate about this work—you’ll love some aspect of what you do every day.
What excites you about being a Music Therapist?
I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, and making connections. The relational aspect is probably my favorite part.
What has been your most gratifying experience as a Music Therapist?
Walking alongside people during some of their best and worst moments in life. To be invited into that space is truly an honor.
What career options do you have in this field?
There are many opportunities as a clinician including working in a hospital, school, rehab, and many other settings. There are also opportunities for private practice work. Additionally, music therapists work in universities, teaching future music therapists or providing supervision and mentorship. Music therapists also participate in research.
What is something others may not know about this career field? What are some common misconceptions?
The most common misconception is that we are entertainers or just here to make people “feel good.” To help others understand, I try to challenge them to reflect on how music makes them feel in their day-to-day life. Does music impact your mood or bring up a certain memory? Maybe music motivates or inspires you or helps you release some built-up tears. Or perhaps music helps you relax and feel more mindful. Music is a powerful tool and we are here to use it appropriately to support the needs of the people we meet and work with.
How has the career field changed since you started? What does the future look like?
Music is changing and evolving every day. And as we learn more about people, our therapy practices change and evolve as well. Technology also impacts the way music can be created and accessed and has allowed us to reach people virtually which wasn’t always easy to do before. I think more people are starting to understand the importance of mental health and well-being and how all aspects of health impact each other. I think the work of music therapists is so important in teaching others to recognize the therapeutic aspects of music and how it impacts our health and well-being.
Any additional comments for interested students?
Loving what you do every day is actually possible!
- Visit the Music Therapist profile for more information on this career path.
- Explore what Music Therapy programs the Cleveland Clinic is affiliated with.