Music therapy is becoming a more popular career path, but it is still much less common than most other majors. The majority of people I know didn't even know music therapy existed or what it was until I told them I was going into it. Music therapy is defined by the American Music Therapy Association as "the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program." This definition is a little wordy, in my opinion, and when I said that to someone one time when they asked me what music therapy is, I think they lost interest. If you want to learn more about what music therapy is, please click the link and you will be directed to the American Music Therapy Association website where you can learn all about it. Instead of trying to explain what music therapy is, today I'd like to focus on why I'm majoring in music therapy. The answer seems obvious, doesn't it? I love music. But it goes much deeper than that. Of course, it's perfectly fine to be going into music therapy purely because you love music, but the majority of people in my major have deeper reasons as to why this is their career of choice. For me, it's several reasons. The first being, yes, I do love music. Most people have a "thing," like dancing, painting, or acting. For me, it's music. I'm a total nerd when it comes to music. I was in a local statewide choir outside of school for several years, and then I joined the band in the 5th grade as a flute player. In high school, I joined the choir and junior jazz band. I wanted to be in senior jazz with all of the really good players, so I switched to saxophone and from junior year on, I was in honors choir, symphonic band, and senior jazz band. Some people thought I was crazy, but I loved every second of it. My senior year, I barely left the music wing of the school. In college, I'm in three ensembles as well.
The second biggest reason I'm majoring in music therapy is my love for helping others. It sounds cheesy, I know. But it's so true. There is a certain joy I get from making someone else smile or making someone feel better and I can't think of a better way to spend my working life doing two things I love so much. Everyone in my major is caring, sensitive, and dedicated to bettering other people's lives. If you've ever felt a happiness that starts deep within that comes from doing something you love, then you know how we feel when we are able to help someone else by doing what we love. It's a win-win. Not only do we get to make music, but our music making is making a difference in someone else's life.
After those two reasons, we have slightly different other reasons as to why we chose this path. For most of us, something has happened in our lives that made us realize the importance of music therapy or that music therapy was definitely what we should be doing with our lives. Most of us have seen music play a positive role in someone's life close to us. After witnessing the effect music can have on people both in everyday life and in more serious situations, It's pretty hard to ignore. Once the fire was ignited for me, I couldn't put it out. I wanted to learn everything about it.
Some people ask about the emotional side of the job, and they do have a point. As many of you know, I'm an extremely emotional person, and I do have trouble hiding what I'm feeling. In fact, if you take a look at me at any given time, you can probably take a pretty accurate guess at what I'm feeling right then. It's a little embarrassing, but as I grow older, the less I care that you all know how I'm feeling without even having to ask. I am very nervous that I won't be able to keep my personal feelings in check, but I know I will learn with time, experience, and guidance from my peers and professors at school. And I do realize that I may not be able to help every client that comes my way and while that upsets me greatly, the feeling I know that will come with helping at least one person will make up for the one I couldn't help.
I cannot think of a better way to spend my life than doing what I love for others, and help them heal. Music therapy is clinical, but to me, it's also magical and beautiful. Music therapists are an underrated category of heroes in my book. I can't wait to be one of them.