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An Introduction to Music Therapy

Different countries have different methods of certifying professional music therapists. In Canada, for example, a four year Bachelor of Music Therapy degree and 1,000 hours of supervised clinical internship is required. After an extensive portfolio submission, the Accreditation Review Board awards to successful candidates the title of MTA or Music Therapist Accredited.

In the U.S.A., an examination is given by the Certification Board for Music Therapists to potential therapists who have completed required music therapy courses (from an approved college) and an internship. Upon passing the exam, the resultant degree is a MT-BC or a Music Therapist Board Certified Credential.

An abundance of information with respect to music therapy is available at www.musictherapy.org and www.musictherapy.ca

In a broad perspective, all musicians have the ability to be amateur music therapists. When I was practicing for my final master’s degree recital in Baltimore, I visited about a half a dozen hospitals and retirement homes, and played for the residents within. The benefits went both ways. My music was relaxing and therapeutic to many of my audience members, and I felt a sense of giving and communication when playing to the sick and elderly. My feeling of satisfaction was beyond words.

On the downside, some of the pianos at these retirement homes were of poor quality and overall very bad. One piano in particular had disproportionate piano key sizes. Believe it or not, the space in between the group of black notes was too narrow on this particular gem of a piano. During my performance of a Chopin Waltz, I actually got my middle right hand finger stuck between two black keys. After a split second struggle, including a terrifyingly sharp pain in my finger joint, I dislodged the finger and finished the piano piece. To this day, I can still visualize the pain. The moral: if you see narrow gaps between black keys, just play chop sticks, slowly and carefully!  


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