Printer-friendly version

Musicotherapist, a profession?

March 15, 2009 at 3:44 PM


yesterday on a practice with a pianist that is always of a very good advice, we were talking about my futur plans...   She told me that musicotherapist was a very nice job for those who have a big affinity with music but not a world star talent...  (I qualify!)  A musical therapist is from what she told me, someone who works with disable people, old folks etc to divert or even (cure???) certain things etc  Yes, I believe we all need music (classical or other styles) at some point, that it can help us to pass hard periods, prevent criminality, suicide, give hope, develop new mental/motor skills etc etc  but can one really earn his/her life with this???  In these economical hard times, I am almost sure that they would cut off musicotherapists jobs before everyone else's job because it is considered quite superficial or non necessary compared to many other jobs...  Of course, I would be very happy, in my futur life to do volounteer work in hospitals and places where music can divert and help a little people because it is such an occasion for normal musicians to apply the real purpose of music but I am sceptic that it can really become my job!  (maybe part time but for a full-time?)  Studies cost much and I don't want to try again a risky path and return in something else after...   It's so difficult for me in sciences now that I want to enter in something at university being 100% conviced that it will work and that I will not have to spend the next 7-10 years of switching from one program to another! I am truly anxious to do more music and I want to go straight to the point!  I was thinking that I really should go in something like occupational therapist or nursing at university because it is more secure even if musicotherapist would be very cool as a job :)))) (nursing and occupational therapist requires sciences at college anyway here) and try to incorporate music if the situation is ok for this. Ex: music is a tool that many occupational therapists sometime use to cure certain things, a nurse can play music on the holiday season to the sick... etc

So do you know musicotherapists?  Is it a real job and do you think there will always be jobs for them? Just curious, as usual to see what you think about this!  Of course it seems great but I try to remain objective and... realistic (hate this word though!)

Have a nice day!   Thanks for any comment!


From E. Smith
Posted on March 15, 2009 at 4:14 PM

 I'm on the board of a small music school that has, in addition to its regular offerings, an extensive music therapy program in which the therapists work with preschoolers at Head Start and early intervention centers. Many of the kids have physical, emotional, or intellectual challenges and most are identified as "at-risk" for environmental reasons. They work with the kids every week and they also work the teachers and parents. The teachers (who reinforce the music program on a daily basis) give a lot of credit to the music therapy program for helping the kids in many areas developmentally. There is a long waiting list for centers who want these programs.  So it seems like a very rewarding career: you do work that has obvious positive results, and the kids, parents, and teachers all love and appreciate you. As far as I know the teachers in this program went to Elizabethtown College, but I'm sure there are excellent music therapy programs in many places. 

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on March 15, 2009 at 5:39 PM

Thanks Mrs or Mr Smith!  That is great news!  I search on the net and the US + certain european countries seem to have good opportunities for musical therapy at least better than what I though!   One thing is sure, how fun is it to SEE the resault of your work. I am now doing my physics stuff and I find it so...  can't tell it on here but I don't see the point of tourturing myself with this even if I am aware of my longtime goal!



From sharelle taylor
Posted on March 16, 2009 at 8:49 AM

Anne Marie, I'm an Australian OT and would certainly encourage you to ,ook into that as a progfession. As a Canadian, you would be accessing some of the best training in the world - Canadian Ot's are so highly thought of, and as a professional group they are outstanding and very forefront in research and innovation. As a career, I have found it to be varied, you do get an opportunity to specialise, say disabled kids, then if you need to, you can switch without further training to worker rehabilitation or people with mental health problems for instance. For longevity, it has compared well to other health science colleagues and education professionals who wish they had done it.

I don't know what its like in Canada, but in Australia, there are few music therapy jobs. Most are in bigger hospitals, or privately run schools for special purpose (autism, sensory impairment). Soem hospitals and nursing homes engage them on a regular sessional basis, but you are right - in tough economic times, that is likely to be at risk.  

Economic forcasters have suggested that health care jobs are amongst the most secure, and certainly I have never felt my job is at risk despite two significant recessions since I graduated over 20 years ago.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on March 16, 2009 at 11:38 AM

Strings magazine did a good article on this topic recently, "The Sound of Healing."

They talk about it as field that would be good for people who want to combine music and science/medicine. 

From Tom Holzman
Posted on March 16, 2009 at 1:03 PM

My brother had a girlfriend who was/is a musicotherapist.  She worked with troubled kids and found it very rewarding.  So yes, it is a real job.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on March 16, 2009 at 6:02 PM


Sharelle, I didn't know this!  It is very interesting! My brother was followed through all his childhood by an occupational therapist because he had such serious problems with his body coordination...   I have always find that it looked like a really nice job and the OT that he saw was very competent!    I am like a slave to my grades now because they will determine in what I will go in university.  For now, I can without problem go in an OT program but they must not get down!!! 

Karen, what an article!  We really see that it does have a positive effect and that it is far more evolved that what we think!   I don't think there is as much of such programs here but I will check it out!!!  At least, can be a good rewarding volunteer work if ever I go in something else!

Tom, I am really happy that your brother's girlfriend has a nice job that she loves!  Really, this is so important.   Of course, I'm still sad to not have chosen to go in music (for many reasons I mentionned often) but exploring the connex jobs (like musicotherapist and OT because ergonomy and motion is a big part of music) is very interesting and I think I would be pretty happy in those!

Thanks for your comments, I appreciate them!


From Bill Busen
Posted on March 19, 2009 at 11:52 PM

If you are also considering OT, and you love music so much, you might consider being a physical therapist (I think in Canada they might call it physiotherapist), and rehabilitating all those poor musicians who have just lost their raison d'etre to an injury.  You also seem to have a straightforward, friendly, open personality that would be an asset as a therapist.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on March 20, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Bill, thanks for the advise!  Yes physiotherapists, OT's and I believe many other professionnals from Alexander technique teachers to sports med can really help the injured musicians!  Would it be great to follow an orchestra!!! (This would be a dream but would they take me... )  I will explore in these fields and of course my grades will determine in what I will be able to go :(  I just hope I will love it (can't complain too much about this one. In these economical hard times just having a job is already a real luck.) and that I will be able to combine well my professional and musical life!   If ever I can cure musicians by any way, I already have my place to advertise lol (just joking, I'm not this type...)

Well, got to continue my maths studying if I want to get there... I have an exam next week grrr...

Thanks Bill and all of you!  You all have great personalities,


This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music: Check out our selection of Celtic music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Summer Music Programs Directory
Find a Summer Music Program Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

The Wallis Presents

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine