What to Expect
For many students of music therapy, the program lets them put together
a love of music and a desire to help the less fortunate.
"In general, I have always known that I wanted to do something to help
other people and that I should use my talents as a musician to do this," says
Jeannelle Reed. She took music therapy at Immaculata College in Pennsylvania.
"I had many powerful experiences with music growing up. And I was
already aware of its unique power to heal," she says. "When I first learned
about music therapy, I knew it was right for me."
For Laura Shearin, music therapy was the perfect way to combine her interest
in music and desire to work with children with special needs.
"I knew I was not quite good enough to major in performance," Shearin
says. "And I also wanted to work with people. I was drawn to Appalachian [University]
because it is one of the few programs in North Carolina. And I had heard good
things about the music school in general."
Leigh Donahue studied music therapy at Shenandoah University in Virginia.
She found the internship component very helpful.
"This program is very good in that most college programs don't allow for
practicum [actually working out in the community practicing music therapy]
until your senior year," she says.
"However, SU starts practicum experience in your second semester [of your]
sophomore year, which is a wonderful, wonderful thing."
Donahue says that expenses like a guitar, music books and private lessons
can add up. "You are always getting supplemental materials like things
to aid in your music activities," she says. "Visual aids are a very important
key to a music therapist's work."
How to Prepare
"The music therapist must first be a strong musician to be an effective
therapist," Reed says.
"I would strongly urge high school students who are considering music therapy
for a career to take all the music theory classes that they can, piano
lessons, guitar lessons and any voice lessons," Donahue says.
"Participate in many music activities such as chorus, orchestra or band,"
says Shearin. "Volunteering for Special Olympics, visiting nursing homes and
volunteering at hospitals are great ways to become familiar with different
types of people."