Frequently-Asked Questions

Won't it just be quicker if I e-mail you with my question?

No. Kathleen and Betsey have both found that their schedules don't permit them to answer individual inquiries. Fortunately, 99% of the questions we've received in the past are answered on this page!

What is Music Therapy?

Music Therapy is the prescribed use, by a qualified music therapist, of (1) music, (2) music-related activities, and (3) the relationships that develop through shared musical experiences to support positive changes in a person's physical, cognitive, communication, social, or emotional state. Music therapists work in a variety of settings, including medicine, rehabilitation, psychiatric care, special education, correctional facilities, state schools, community-based health care, and private practice. For more information click here.

How can I train to be a music therapist?

To practice music therapy, you need to have (1) completed an undergraduate degree or equivalency in music therapy from a college or university approved by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA); (2) completed a supervised internship (several months, usually full-time) at a clinical site approved by AMTA; and (3) passed a national board certification exam and then maintained your certification through re-taking the exam or completion of continuing education. For more detailed information on the education and training of music therapists, visit the web site for the American Music Therapy Association (301-589-3300) and for information about board-certification, visit the CBMT website. If you would like to know what you can expect from a qualified music therapist, click here.

What about Music Practitioners? Are they music therapists?

Music practitioners are not music therapists; they are trained specifically to create a healing environment by playing music at patients' bedsides. Training takes a year with the student attending 5 weekend workshops and doing independent study. The internship period is 45 hours (as compared to the 900+ hours required to become a board-certified music therapist). This website has more information.

How much do music therapists make? Are there jobs?

Music therapy is an expanding field and music therapists find work both as employees and as private contractors. AMTA keeps statistics on a variety of topics, including (1) salaries; (2) places currently employing music therapists; and (3) populations served by music therapy. For more information, please contact the American Music Therapy Association (301-589-3300).

How can I find a music therapist near me?

You can search for a MT-BC here. We recommend MT-BCs who are also members of AMTA. AMTA ( has a database of its member therapists at its website. University music therapy programs near you may also be able to help you. Thes are also listed at the American Music Therapy Association web site or at (301-589-3300).

Are you telling me I should visit the American Music Therapy Association website?

Yes! They have all kinds of information; from fact sheets on how music therapy is used in various settings, to announcements about upcoming conferences, to lists of schools that offer music therapy degrees. Take the time to explore!

Is there research to support the use of music therapy?

Yes. Not only is there extensive research in the pages of the two AMTA peer-reviewed journals, Journal of Music Therapy, and Music Therapy Perspectives, but there are international journals of music therapy and music medicine and research in these fields regularly appears in journals from other professions. Music therapy research in neuroscience, neonatal intensive care, and Alzheimer's disease is going on at major medical centers throughout the country.

There is more detailed information on music therapy research here.

Does the Mozart Effect really work?

The "Mozart Effect" has been widely publicized and is mostly exaggerated or misunderstood. We strongly urge you to read about the actual research on which the term is based: you will discover that most of the articles and books that refer to it have not reported it accurately. A brief but comprehensive review of the research is available at The MuSICA Research Notes archive.

What about Tomatis and other therapies involving headphones?

These methods might be more appropriately referred to as "acoustic therapy," because they focus on the listening experience exclusively, and often involve the masking or emphasis on certain frequencies. The primary distinction from music therapy is that music therapy always involves an ongoing interpersonal relationship between therapist and client, and an emphasis on live music.

How do I find out about music and [insert area of interest]?

You can begin by doing some research online; one site for this is the CAIRSS database; you can also use a university library search engine. Another good resource would be music therapists with experience in your particular area of interest. To find them, contact the American Music Therapy Association (301-589-3300) for a list of university programs near you, or for music therapists in your area who specialize in the work you want to know about.

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