Music therapy program growing

Sam Houston’s music therapy program continues to grow to accommodate its increasing need for music therapists.

“We are experiencing somewhat of a music therapist shortage as the demand continues to grow. Music therapy as a profession has grown consistently for the past 55 years, and the job market is flourishing,” said Karen Miller, director of Music Therapy.

Music is used everyday to motivate and relax, and music therapy takes these positive effects and uses them to heal people, Miller said.

For example, the beating of a drum can steady a person’s walking.

“Music can be most effective to stroke or Parkinsons disease victims because the beat of the drum can speed up or slow down the walking. The rhythm of the music can trigger the side of a stroke victim to walk when it would usually freeze up,” music therapy student Serenity James said.

Music therapy students must take a variety of classes ranging from music to anatomy to psychology. After taking many hours of classes and completing a full-time internship, they must take a board-certified exam. Only then can a student begin to practice.

“Excellent music therapists need to be excellent, flexible musicians in order to have the greatest impact possible on their clients,” said Miller.

Clinical research shows that music therapy really works, Miller said.

“Research demonstrates that when music is applied in specific, individualized ways toward specific, non-musical outcomes, unique and significant results are possible,” she said.

James said, “One reason we know that music therapy works is whether it’s passive or active music listening, research shows it uses the entire brain. With the entire brain in use, music can have an effect on just about everything. It can have an effect on heart rate, it can increase weight gain and lower blood pressure,” added James.

Some jobs available to music therapists are mental health facilitations, hospitals, day care, nursing homes, rehabilitations centers, schools and music therapy agencies. James says, “The best part of music therapy is that we get to take the music people know and love and use as a healing tool to help people.”

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