What is music therapy and who is it for?

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Music therapist Morgan Mueller shares on the area, its focuses and audience, and his favourite aspects

For many of us, music can be enjoyable in many ways. We can use music to help focus on our work, motivate us to workout, break up a long drive, feel a sense of connection to our feelings, have fun with friends, and so much more! Because music can connect with all of us in a variety of different ways, it can be portrayed as being very therapeutic, and there are even types of therapies that use music to increase people’s well-being. The Carillon did an interview with music therapist Morgan Mueller, and we talked about all things music therapy so you can learn some of its benefits.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music in a therapeutic environment with the therapist and the client. […] Using music as the medium […] to achieve non-musical goals. These goals can be focus, attention, turn-taking, and quality of life. It is comparable to other arts therapies like art therapy, occupational therapy which as well coordinate in music.

Is this a common, well-known practice in Regina and Saskatchewan?

It appears to be that it is a growing profession. Currently, there is a growing need in our area.

Can you explain the educational process of becoming a music therapist?

Music therapy right now is offered as a bachelor’s program, only offered at four different schools in Canada, […] then you can go on to get a master’s if desired, but it is not required to start working. […] After that, you have to do a 1,000-hour internship with research and practical hours. Once completed, you write an accreditation exam where you would achieve the title of Music Therapist Accredited.

What motivated you to choose music therapy as a career?

Music has always been an essential part of my life, […] I’ve also wanted to work with people to work together to achieve goals. […] At the first time it was described to me as marrying a psychology degree with a music degree, and using music as your tool to help people.

What is your favourite part about giving people this type of therapy?

My favourite part about giving this type of therapy would be that I get to make music with people. I love music, I’ve always loved playing guitar, singing, piano, […] I just enjoy what comes out of communal music making, whether it’s recreational or in a therapeutic environment. What gets me is that I can do something I really enjoy, and help bring joy and change to others.

How do you hope to go about expanding your practice?

One of the goals is to bring more people onto the team so that there are more people working with me as a team to provide more music therapy to more locations throughout the city, and make it more available to the community.

What are things that people would experience in a session?

In a session I am usually leading with a guitar and singing. I try to get the clients to participate as well by playing with hand-held percussion instruments like hand shaker, drums, jingle bells. There as well are body movement involved like clapping that is involved as participation. These activities can help with achieving different goals. I as well like to get the clients up and dance. Do some movement, do some dancing, music making, and creating a communal aspect of this music making for everyone.

What type of people is this typically directed for?

Music therapy can be directed for all types of people. The difference is based on what type of goals are you looking for, depends on what kind of needs you are looking for. So, music therapy has been used for people with developmental and cognitive delays to help with different goals such as speech, turn taking, focus and attention, repetition. […] I have seen it being used as a method of pain reduction, stress reduction, and anxiety reduction. It has been used for all different types of people, and all different types of things. That is why all different types of people can benefit from music therapy.

What are some different types of accommodations that you make to help others?

The type of accommodations I would make in a session would be to alter the way I am asking a question, delivering a choice to a client. An option would be giving a client a choice of two songs. […] Then I can hold both cards in one hand and bring their hand close to make a choice by picking it up. As well if people have different physical needs, […] I will hold hands and dance with them on the chair or couch, moving their upper body or helping move their feet for them to get some movement in their chair or body.

What types of agencies do you work for?

I work for all different types of agencies. I work for group homes, school divisions, daycares, and community support organizations.

Why should someone look into joining or trying out music therapy?

People should look into music therapy if they are looking for any type of positive change in their life. Plus, if they would like to do it in a way [that is] fun, exciting, familiar for most people. Music is something that is commonly enjoyed, even if they’re just listening to music. So, it is a great way to make positive change because it is so innate in all of us.

That concludes our talk with Mueller. He taught me – and hopefully you, readers – about what music therapy is, some benefits to music therapy, as well as reasons to try out music therapy. I personally have partaken in a music therapy session and have had some personal benefits since, and I have seen that others have benefited from it as well. That is the focus of this article: to teach readers about music therapy so you can learn why it may be beneficial for you.

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