What is music therapy?

I’ve heard about music therapy and am intrigued, but am confused about what populations would benefit from a 1:1 session. Can you clarify for me?

Music therapy can be tricky to define because of the broad spectrum of populations served. I think we can agree - if you are a human, you are influenced by music to some degree. The unique nature of music therapy versus any other beneficial therapies, is that music doesn’t live in one “center” of the brain. When engaged in music making, it has been found that nearly 90% of the brain is active. In this way, it is up to the creativity of the music therapist to utilize music in a way that is most beneficial to the client. If the client has a speech need, we can make a song to target vocalizations or specific sounds/words. If the client has a physical need, the rhythm of the music provides a framework for movement to fit into, thus increasing repetitions/durations of the movement. If the need is emotional, we can tap into the expressive nature of music making. If cognitive, create/utilize songs to increase development &/or attention. If it is behavioral, find their preferred instrument choice and use as a reward for positive behaviors.

The sky's the limit with music, but here is a list of example populations that, if you or someone you know fit into, may benefit from music therapy: Developmental disabilities (including Autism, Apraxia, Down Syndrome, Speech delay, TBI, regaining function following incident/disease/disorder), Parkinsons, Stroke Victims, Depression/Anxiety/Trauma, Alzheimers.

Whatever the case, if you have a question concerning music therapy, contact Callie Mescher ( - she is a board certified music therapist that has specialized training in Neurologic Music Therapy.


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