Day in the Life of a Music Therapist
A music therapy career can be extremely rewarding! Oftentimes, Music Therapists are able to choose the client population they work with, and their hours if they own and operate a private practice. With all of this freedom, Music Therapists use creativity and musical expression to produce successful mental health outcomes, similar to an Art Therapist. In working to achieve these outcomes, here’s what a day in the life looks like of Jennifer Jonas, MM, MTA, an experienced Music Therapist practicing in Alabama:
Jonas begins her day by driving to her group session. As the Music Therapist for the infant and toddler program within her community, her sessions vary based on the children meeting on a particular day. On Wednesdays she begins her day in a “Babies Group” setting.
At this time, Jonas will begin her first session by gathering the participating children and singing various songs with them. Often, these songs will address goals the children are working on. Songs which Jonas will often lead in infant and toddler settings include favorites like “This Old Man,” “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “Kick Your Crazies Out,” “I Can Sing a Rainbow” and “Peek-A-Boo” to address goals such as improving speech, social interaction and fine gross motor control.
“I had a desire to help the most needy in our society with my gift of music,” Jonas explained.
After her first session of the day concludes, Jonas will then begin her second group session. Usually ranging in age from 6 weeks to 3 years old, this group will similarly focus on engaging in age-appropriate, fun and goal-oriented songs.
“Love what you do and be passionate about helping others,” Jonas emphasized. “Position openings in this healthcare career may not always come quickly, but don’t give up. Always be willing to discuss the benefits of music therapy by speaking at local groups!”
Mid-day, Jonas hosts another music therapy group for individuals with Parkinson’s Disease. During these sessions, she uses vocal exercises to strengthen the voices of these clients. This session further involves leading in song, and accompanying her participants on either the piano or guitar.
“One must have musical skills to become a Music Therapist,” Jonas stressed. “You must become versatile in playing instruments like keyboard and guitar. Singing is also something you do with almost every client, so you must be comfortable singing in front of others.”
Wrapping up her sessions for the day, Jonas will lastly make a visit to a nursing home where she holds private sessions with a client. More specifically, she works with a client with dementia who has always had a love for music, and whose family requested that Jonas visit and sing.
“I could write a story for every time I sing at the nursing home; a story of how I touched some dear senior’s life by the simple singing of a favorite song,” Jonas writes in her publication, Touching Lives, One Song at a Time, which profiles her moving experiences as a Music Therapist. “Seeing their eyes light up with the recognition of a past memory is a delight I receive each time I go.”
While this is what a typical day in the life of Jonas looks like, other Music Therapists may have drastically different day-to-day schedules. Ultimately, within this career in healthcare, the possibilities are endless. If you have a love for music and helping others to overcome obstacles and lead their best possible lives, a career as a Music Therapist may be your perfect professional match.
Learn more about this musical career in healthcare today!