KATIE CLAMAN, STAFF WRITER
“Music therapy is effective across the lifespan from infancy to people dying,” Dr. Alpha Woodward, a professor of music therapy, said. “It’s effective across all populations, and there is no one specific area where music therapy would be considered especially significant, because it is significant everywhere. That’s part of what makes the task of teaching music therapy so challenging.”
The American Therapy Association views music therapy as the clinical and evidence based use of music to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship with a licensed professional, according to the article “The Value of Music Therapy in Patient Care.”
“Music therapists can also work alongside all the other therapies,” John Hoehn, a third-year music therapy major, said. “While music therapy works well on its own it also works well as a supplementary therapy.” In addition to being able work with other types of therapies, music therapy is also applicable to many different groups of people. Part of the process of teaching music therapy is centered around the student’s experience.
“I really like to teach students to understand who they are in the music, and what their particular, unique gifts are,” Woodward
said. “And they don’t necessarily know that starting off. What do they bring to the profession that is unique to them.”
Music therapy is also beneficial to practitioners, according to the editorial “The Changing Faces of Music Therapy.” Those that practice music therapy become more open to using what could be viewed as a mistake as a new opportunity.
“I think it definitely opened my eyes to all the different possibilities,” Allison Kuehn, a third-year music therapy major, said. “A lot of people when they think of music therapy, they’re like ‘oh so you just go in and sing.’ It really makes me realize how important and impactful music can be in people’s lives.”
Music therapy is not targeted to a specific illness. Instead, music therapists must be flexible and able to work with a wide range of patients and diagnoses.
“A lot of people don’t understand the difference between music therapy and therapeutic music,” Hoehn said. “It’s something we talk about in our classes where someone is like ‘oh why are you getting a degree in music therapy when I can just walk in and play the piano,’ but that’s what we call therapeutic music.”
Music therapy is a type of therapy that can, and does, benefit in different ways. “What I have personally seen, and the people that I have worked with, is people feeling better about themselves,” Woodward said. “People feeling empowered. People feeling that they have something that they belong to. People who have been isolated now have, you know, a sense that they belong to something. People who have found meaning where they didn’t feel there was meaning before.”
For more information on Wartburg’s music therapy major, go to wartburg.edu/music-therapy.