What is Music Therapy?

Music therapy is an allied health service similar to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology that uses music as the therapeutic tool to address physical, cognitive, social, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and/or behavioral needs. Music therapy is a cost-effective, evidenced-based discipline with a substantial body of literature to support its efficacy.

Who May Benefit from Music Therapy Services?

People with any physical, cognitive, social, emotional, or spiritual need may benefit from music therapy services. Music therapists work with people of all ages from birth to death.

Where do Music Therapists Work?

Music therapists work with people in medical and psychiatric hospitals, hospice programs, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehabilitative facilities, private homes, outpatient clinics, day care treatment centers, agencies serving people with developmental disabilities, community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, and private practice.

Why Should I Try Music Therapy?

Music is a part of everyday life, especially for the elderly. Music therapy provides a natural, nonthreatening, fun, and reinforcing way to treat the holistic needs of clients. Needs in all domains (physical, cognitive, social, emotional, spiritual, and behavioral) may be addressed through music therapy

•While many people are able to use music to entertain, music therapists provide an enjoyable way to enhance the overall quality of life of those they serve using music as the therapeutic tool to address nonmusical change

•Music therapists are specially trained to use specific aspects of music to work on nonmusical goals

•Music therapists can help clients control pain, discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, stress, and anxiety

•Music therapists can complement and enhance the work of other therapists such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers, and chaplains by collaboratively working on and reinforcing goals and exercises given by other disciplines

•Music therapy can help people with various disabilities maintain physical and cognitive abilities, helping them to be as independent as possible in activities of daily living

•Music therapy can structure interaction between clients, families, and friends which is particularly beneficial when clients are low functioning, may not recognize loved ones, and/or for people struggling with end of life issues or other challenging issues

•Due to the motivational factors provided by music and the way the brain and body respond to music, music therapists can sometimes gain positive responses when others are unable to reach them

What are Some Benefits of

Music Therapy/Client Goals?


•Decrease pain and discomfort

•Decrease tension

•Decrease shortness of breath

•Increase range of motion

•Increase strength and endurance

•Increase motor accuracy

•Decrease fatigue and recovery time

•Improve circulation

•Increase coordination

•Structure physical interaction

•Decrease nausea and vomiting

•Increase comfort/relaxation

•Increase quantity and quality of sleep

•Increase energy


•Heighten cognitive ability

•Improve short and long term memory

•Increase alertness

•Improve expressive communication

•Improve receptive communication

•Increase sensory stimulation

  1. Improve or maintain intelligibility of speech (improve                                          accuracy, fluency, clarity, and volume of verbalizations)

•Increase satisfaction with life

•Facilitate reminiscence and life review

•Decrease confusion

Emotional, Spiritual, and Psychosocial

•Structure social interaction

•Increase awareness of self and others

•Improve mood and affect

•Improve sense of belonging

•Increase opportunities for personal choice

•Increase frequency of successful experiences

•Enhance self-identity

•Provide emotional and spiritual support

•Decrease fear, stress, and anxiety

•Decrease behaviors

•Increase interest and esteem

•Provide opportunities for self-expression, processing, and empathy

•Enhance coping ability

How are Sessions Structured?

•Music therapists can work with individuals or groups

•Sessions may vary in structure and type depending on goals and client’s immediate needs and preferences

•The music therapist will conduct an initial assessment of client needs during the first visit, and will conduct ongoing assessments of immediate client needs throughout each session thereafter making appropriate modifications as needed

•Depending on the client’s needs, the music therapist will facilitate a single or multiple therapeutic music experiences to address nonmusical goals

•Family members, care providers, and friends may participate in sessions to structure interaction or enhance the overall quality of care

•Each music therapy session can be structured the same way or differently depending on interests and needs

General Therapeutic Music Experiences

•Song Selection/Dedication


•Music Facilitated Reminiscence/Life Review


•Creation/Discussion of Music Legacy

•Music Assisted Relaxation and Pain Management


•Guided Relaxation

•Music Listening

•Playing Instruments


•Mood Vectoring

•Iso Principle

•Validation of Spiritual Beliefs

•Validation of Heritage

•Funeral Planning

•Music and Movement

•Music-Assisted Art

•Creative Expression with Other Media


•Music Discussion/Education

•Lyric Analysis

Neurologic Music Therapy Therapeutic

Music Experiences

•Therapeutic Instrument Music Performance (TIMP)

•Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation (RAS), (Gait Training)

•Patterned Sensory Enhancement (PSE)

•Therapeutic Singing (TS)

•Vocal Intonation Therapy (VIT)

•Musical Speech Stimulation (MUSTIM)

•Modified Melodic Intonation Therapy (MMIT)

•Oral Motor and Respiratory Exercises (OMREX)

•Rhythmic Speech Cuing (RSC)

    •Musical Neglect Training (MNT)

What Training is Required of Music Therapists?

Music Therapists are required to successfully complete:

•Coursework in music theory, history, conducting, comprehension, guitar, piano, voice, and instruments; and extensive performance requirements

•Coursework in biology, special education, psychology, communication disorders, exceptional persons, and counseling

•Specialized music therapy coursework in theory, history, assessment, observation, measurement, techniques, research, and psychology of music

•Supervised clinical practicum and a 6 month full time internship at an approved training site

•National, independent certification board exam and have maintained awareness of current practice through continuing education or retesting

What is The Role of the Music Therapist?

•To identify client needs

•Determine how music therapy can complement and enhance the work of other members of the treatment team

•Determine which aspects of music facilitate the desired outcomes

  1. To systematically apply the appropriate music therapy interventions to achieve the desired outcome

Brochures for Music Therapy with

Special Populations

Referral Candidates and Potential Music Therapy Outcomes
Potential MT OutcomesMusic_Therapy_files/Referral%20Candidates%20and%20Potential%20MT%20Outcomes%20No%20Rates.pdfMusic_Therapy_files/Referral%20Candidates%20and%20Potential%20MT%20Outcomes%20No%20Rates.pdf

Music Therapy & the ElderlyMusic_Therapy_files/MT%20%26%20the%20Elderly.pdfMusic_Therapy_files/MT%20%26%20the%20Elderly_1.pdfshapeimage_2_link_0

New MT in Hospice & Paliative Care Trifold Brochure.docMusic_Therapy_files/New%20MT%20in%20Hospice%20%26%20Paliative%20Care%20Trifold%20Brochure.docMusic_Therapy_files/New%20MT%20in%20Hospice%20%26%20Paliative%20Care%20Trifold%20Brochure.docMusic_Therapy_files/MT%20in%20Hospice%20%26%20Paliative%20Care%20Trifold%20Brochure.pdfshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1

Music Therapy & Parkinson’s DiseaseMusic_Therapy_files/MT%20%26%20PD.pdfMusic_Therapy_files/MT%20%26%20PD_1.pdfshapeimage_4_link_0

Music Therapy & Stroke RehabilitationMusic_Therapy_files/MT%20%26%20Stroke%20Rehabilitation.pdfMusic_Therapy_files/MT%20%26%20Stroke%20Rehabilitation_1.pdfshapeimage_5_link_0

Music Therapy and Children with 
Special NeedsMusic_Therapy_files/Music%20Therapy%20and%20Children%20with%20Special%20Needs.pdfMusic_Therapy_files/Music%20Therapy%20and%20Children%20with%20Special%20Needs.pdfMusic_Therapy_files/Music%20Therapy%20and%20Children%20with%20Special%20Needs_1.pdfshapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1

For More Information or to

Book a Session Contact:

Melissa Hirokawa, M.M., MT-BC

Neurologic Music Therapy Fellow

651-363-3936 ♪

Resources For More Information on Music Therapy and Board Certification





Click Here for the 
American Music Therapy Association Website
Click Here for the Certification Board for Music Therapists Website
The Center for Biomedical Research in Music
 Business OverviewWelcome_Business_Overview.html
Music Therapy
MT TestimonialsMT_Testimonials.html
Start Music Therapy TTherapy Start_Music_Therapy.html
Contact InformationContact_Information.html
Facebook Page
About the TherapistsAbout_the_Therapists.html
Intergenerational Music GroupIntergenerational_Music_Group.htmlIntergenerational_Music_Group.htmlshapeimage_20_link_0