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  • Kayla

Welcome to Keynote!

The Beginning

Welcome to Keynote Music Therapy! We want to get to know you, and we hope you are here because you want to get to know us. To begin, let us tell you a little bit about the field of music therapy. Consider the following scene:

Setting: Any type of social situation involving some combination of food, drinks, music, strangers, and light conversation.

Stranger: “So, what do you do?”

Me: “I’m a music therapist.”

Stranger: “Wow! That sounds amazing—how rewarding! So…what does that mean, exactly?”

And here is where I am faced with a decision. Do I tell them what music therapy is, what it isn’t, or what I do? I know I only have about three sentences before their attention is pulled to the meatballs that just arrived on the buffet. Maybe I should address all three? Maybe I should redirect the conversation to avoid getting it wrong and contributing to the misunderstanding? I’m wasting precious time, here! Decide!

Well, since I am not faced with a 30 second deadline and the temptation of meatballs across the room (I might be up against the meatballs, but just grab a plate and come back, will you?), I will give you three bullet points about what music therapy is, what it isn’t, and what we do.

What is music therapy?

This is a question music therapists are constantly faced with, and one that we have a lot of practice answering. How well we are understood is worth examining, but here are three common answers:

  • Music therapy is the clinical and evidenced-based use of music to address nonmusical goals within a therapeutic relationship and delivered by a credentialed professional.

  • Music therapy is the creative and clinical application of music interventions to achieve social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and spiritual goals.

  • Music therapy is an allied healthcare profession that addresses nonmusical goals through an individualized assessment and treatment plan.

What is music therapy NOT?

This it admittedly not a question that music therapists get very often, but it is one that we often find ourselves addressing through polite corrections and bad jokes.

  • Music therapists are not entertainers. While music listening may be therapeutic, we carefully choose each song and intervention based on the goals of the client. Goals may include: to engage in life review, to increase socialization, to provide emotional support, to facilitate physical movement, or to reinforce academic skills.

  • Music therapy is not putting on headphones. Again, music therapists design interventions with specific goals in mind. Simply giving someone an iPod and headphones does not constitute music therapy. It may be therapeutic in some way, but if it does not involve specific goals within a therapeutic relationship with a music therapist, it is not music therapy.

  • Music therapy is not always fun and relaxing. Sorry, folks, just like any type of therapy, it can also be really hard work. While relaxation may be a goal of music therapy, it is not the only one. Sometimes music therapists use music to facilitate physical movement post-surgery. Sometimes songwriting is used to process a difficult emotional situation. Sometimes people cry. It can be hard and painful and sad, but there is always a purpose.

What do music therapists DO?

  • Music therapists write songs with clients. Even YOU could be a songwriter with the help of a music therapist!

  • Music therapists teach clients how to use music on their own for therapeutic purposes. (You may see headphones here!)

  • Music therapists use voice, guitar, piano, percussion instruments, recorded music, and more within interventions. While we don’t mind being called “the guitar lady,” we can do more than that!

Now that you know a little more about music therapy as a profession, stay tuned next week for more information on Keynote Music Therapy and our plans for its future.

Please let us know what questions or comments you have. We look forward to hearing from you!

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