Music Therapy is a health care discipline that uses music to address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages. Music therapy improves the quality of life for persons who are well and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities or illnesses. Music therapy interventions can be designed to:
- promote wellness
- manage stress
- alleviate pain
- express feelings
- enhance memory
- improve communication
- promote physical rehabilitation
In delivering music therapy services, we adopt a process versus product philosophy. Our focus is on the process involved in creating, moving and listening to music rather than the product of learning music for performance. Treatment is facilitated through passive or active involvement in music which may include: creating, singing, improvising, moving and listening to music.
What Can One Expect from a Music Therapist?
- Professionally trained to utilize clinical musical interventions to address behavioral/psycho-social/emotional, communication/language, sensory-motor, & cognitive needs of individuals.
- A competent musician who is both creative and resourceful.
- An understanding, caring, ethical therapist, with a broad range of skills.
- Well-versed in a variety of music therapy applications and pertinent research.
- Able to create a therapeutic environment and engage in the therapeutic process.
- An effective communicator, with clients, other team members, and the public.
Who is a Qualified Music Therapist?
Graduates of colleges or universities from one of approximately seventy approved music therapy degree programs are eligible to take a certification examination in music therapy. Those who pass the exam become Board Certified (MT-BC), demonstrating entry-level skills in the profession. In addition to the MT-BC credential, other recognized professional designations are Registered Music Therapist (RMT), Certified Music Therapist (CMT), and Advanced Certified Music Therapist (ACMT) listed with the National Music Therapy Registry. Any individual who does not have proper training and credentials is not qualified to provide music therapy services.
Where Do Music Therapists Work?
Music therapists may provide service in the following settings: early intervention centers, Head Start programs, day care centers, preschools through high schools, day treatment centers, hospitals, hospices, clinics, rehabilitation centers, substance abuse facilities, mental health centers, group homes, sheltered workshops, long-term care facilities, correctional institutions, private homes, camps, community schools of the arts, music retailers, wellness centers, holistic treatment centers, private practice, and more.
What is AMTA?
The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) represents over 5,000 music therapists, corporate members, and related associations worldwide. AMTA’s roots date back to organizations founded in 1950 and 1971. Those two organizations merged in 1998 to ensure the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and medical and community settings. AMTA is committed to the advancement of education, training, professional standards, and research in support of the music therapy profession. The mission of the organization is to advance public knowledge of music therapy benefits and increase access to quality music therapy services. Currently, AMTA establishes criteria for the education and clinical training of music therapists. Members of AMTA adhere to a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice in their delivery of music therapy services. Through the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives, as well as other publications offered by AMTA, research findings and clinical studies relevant to the practice of music therapy are shared with interested professionals.
A board-certified music therapist conducts an assessment in order to determine the appropriateness of therapy. This assessment, which occurs over 2-3 sessions, will serve as a guide in developing goals and objectives for the treatment plan. In addition to assessing various domains including academic, cognitive, motor, social, emotional, and communicative domains, the therapist will also gather information, with permission from the individual, from other parties that are familiar with the individual, including teachers, family, staff, case managers, health care providers, and/or service providers. Occasionally the assessment will indicate that music therapy is not an appropriate intervention at this time.
In this setting, music therapy is provided to one individual at a time. The 1:1 music therapy session allows a music therapy program to be tailored for an individual’s specific needs. 1:1 music therapy sessions typically meet one time per week for approximately 30 minutes (but can vary depending on the client’s needs).
Music therapy can be offered in a group setting in order to serve more than one individual at a time. Groups typically consist of 8-10 individuals and meet one time per week. Session lengths can range from 30 minutes to 60 minutes.
Music Therapy: Short-term Group Sessions
In this setting, music therapy is offered in a 6-8 week time period to small groups of people with similar abilities. The classes focus on one goal, (communication, motor skills, etc.) and documentation is provided. Each week, registered participants will enjoy a half-hour of fun musical experiences through movement, instrument playing, and sensory stimulation. At the same time, we will be reinforcing skills used for activities of daily living. Interventions will be adapted as needed for participants. Sessions will incorporate a wide variety of musical styles, instruments and recreational materials to meet everyone's interest. Groups will have between 3-7 participants to allow for individualized instruction. To learn more about upcoming short-term classes, please call Kelly Fowler, MA, MT-BC at (563) 940-9567.
Adaptive music education focuses on assisting the student in learning proper technique, elements of music, theory, music history, and expanded repertoire. Adaptive lessons focus more on the student’s process of learning than the outcome of performance, however performance may be a key tool for reinforcement.
In-service presentations involve a combination of lecture, disscusion, and activity based on group size and location of the presentation. Please contact us so we can create a presentation based on the needs and size of your group.
Please call the Director of Music Therapy Services, Kelly Fowler, MA, MT-BC at (563) 940-9567 or Rachael Willeke, MT-BC, at 319-351-2000 x1383 for pricing information. Since no two situations are the same, we want to give you the best estimate we can for music therapy services. We would be happy to talk with you about our different services and find a program that will fit your needs.
There are also several different funding options to help pay for music therapy services:
Funding may be available through:
- Private Pay through individual family funds
- Private pay through SSI accounts
- Third-party reimbursement through insurance company; must obtain pre-approval
- Private sponsorship through service or professional organizations
The music therapy internship at West Music is now a National Roster Internship.
The internship provides opportunities to work with a wide range of populations, including geriatric, hospice, and adults and children with developmental disabilities. The internship is based out of the Marion store, which has a Music Therapy Clinic equipped with a two-way mirror to allow for observation.
Other opportunities include being able to observe and work with several music therapists, marketing and business training, fine-tuning your resume, and a mock interview to prepare you for launching yourself into the profession. Interns must have their own transportation. An intern can plan on driving approximately 75-100 miles per week. Mileage is reimbursed.
An example of a typical day might look like this:
- 9:00 - 9:30 1:1 Child DD in Music Therapy Clinic
- 10:00 - 10:45 Geriatric Group
- 11:30 - 12:00 Hospice Client
- 12:00 - 2:30 Office time for planning, practice time & paperwork
- 3:00 - 3:30 1:1 Adult DD
- 4:00 - 4:45 Group Adult DD
Traveling: car required (about 25 miles per day)
Housing, meals and stipend are not provided.
For more information, please contact the Internship Director, Kyle Wilhelm, MA, MT-BC at (319) 389-4074.
SoundReach is a community choir for teens and adults of all abilities. We are sponsored by West Music and have three locations in which you can join: Marion, Quad Cities Area and Coralville.
SoundReach is a fun and welcoming environment in which to make new friends while learning music. We rehearse for 3 – 3 ½ months and then perform a public concert to show off all of our hard work throughout the SoundReach session! Other performance opportunities also present themselves. SoundReach has performed at the Mayor's Youth Empowerment fundraiser, the Special Olympics Mid-Winter Banquet, and the Johnson County MH/DD Planning Council Retreat, to mention a few.
SoundReach welcomes visitors to our rehearsals, and if you enjoy spending time with us and sharing our music, you can join as a member of SoundReach.
Important information on becoming a member of SoundReach Choir...
SoundReach Choir is a cooperative effort by its members to achieve the common goal of performing as a group. To achieve this goal we will come together, share together, work together and succeed together. As standard policy in performance choirs, we will occasionally feature an individual or group of individuals, but the bulk of our efforts will be on the group performing as a whole.
Participate and Listen!
SoundReach is a performance choir. Every session we perform at least once. For this reason, rehearsal times need to be used to rehearse music. Talking should be kept to a minimum during rehearsal so that we can generate the best quality sound for our audiences. This also includes staff/family members in attendance. If staff/family members want to socialize, please find another place to do so (i.e., outside or another area of the building). SoundReach is a great place to meet people and see friends, so there will be times designated before and after rehearsal for socializing.
There are between eight and thirteen rehearsals in every session. In order to get the best quality performance, choir members should make every attempt to attend as many rehearsals as possible. SoundReach members must attend at least half of the rehearsals each session in order to perform in the concert. Attending less than half of rehearsals does not leave enough time for the choir member to learn the songs for the concert, and it is not fair for those who have attended all of the rehearsals.
No food, gum or drinks other than water are permitted during rehearsal. Please be respectful of the rehearsal hall by throwing away trash, keeping the bathrooms clean, returning instruments, and picking up any papers that may be around you. And don't forget, be on time!