How To Become A Music Therapist

By Gracie Kuyper

Hi! My name is Gracie Kuyper and I’m a high school intern here at MusicWorx. I am in 12th grade and am excited to work here! While I’m here, I get to learn more about music therapy and the benefits that come from it. I am interested in becoming a music therapist, and wanted to share what high school students should know about music therapy. If you’re passionate like me about music and helping people, a music therapy career might be right for you!

Step 1: Research different schools/colleges that offer music therapy degrees.

To become a music therapist, you will need to complete an AMTA approved bachelor’s degree, equivalency, or master’s degree program. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) is a website all about music therapy and they can help you find the school to go to. When you know the school you want to go to and it doesn’t offer music therapy, try to see if they offer any voice, guitar, and/or piano classes. You may be able to complete a 2-3 year equivalency program after completing a bachelor’s degree in music, psychology, or other related fields. There are schools all across the nation that offer music therapy degrees so you can easily find one. I would recommend applying to multiple schools so that you have more of a chance to get in.

Step 2: Apply for the colleges.

If you’re not ready for a 4-year university, you can apply to community colleges. You can take a psychology class and a music class there and then apply to a 4-year to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A helpful reminder: look at the due date of the application(s) and make sure you do them before the due date. Life gets busy but doing these applications are important.

Step 3: Prepare for your audition.

When you have applied to the school(s), you would be applying to the music department. With that, they will send you an email talking about an audition application, audition repertoire, and audition dates/times. Some schools require different types of music and some even require different types of instruments. So you have to be prepared for what songs you are going to play/sing for your application. Once you do your audition, you’ll feel relieved. Once your audition is over, you either get into that school or you don’t. If you do, then you’re on your way to becoming a music therapist! If you don’t, then that school wasn’t meant to be and maybe the other school(s) you applied to will accept you. Good luck!

Step 4: Complete your bachelor’s or equivalency program.

Wow! Now you’re in college learning about music therapy! You are so close to being a music therapist! During your degree program, you will be taking foundational music classes such as music theory, music history, performance skills, and functional guitar and piano. You will also be taking behavioral sciences classes like psychology as well as music therapy clinical skills. In addition, you will need to complete four semesters of clinical fieldwork under the supervision of your professor or another music therapist.

Step 5: Complete a music therapy internship.

After completing your coursework in music therapy, you must complete a 6-month AMTA National Roster Internship or University-Affiliated Internship. This includes 1200 of clinical training where you practice music therapy under the supervision of a board-certified music therapist. You can find internships all over the United States through the AMTA website. Check out the National Roster Internship Guidelines here.

Step 6: Become board certified.

Well, now you need to become board certified before you start. The Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT) is the national certifying body for music therapists. All music therapists must pass a standardized board certification exam and maintain their certification by completing continuing education over a period of five years. There are more links on the website talking about the organization, helpful facts, and so much more! There are also links to get re-certified if need be.

YAY! Now you are board-certified and ready to go start your career as a music therapist! Go out there and do your best!