Nearly everyone has a connection to music and nobody can avoid it in some form or fashion. However, not many people know or understand about the effects music can have as a means of therapy.
This weekend, the Sam Houston State University chapter of Mu Tau Omega hosted the Music Therapy Awareness Weekend in order to introduce the general public to the profession of music therapy and the different ways in which it is used.
“The Music Therapy Awareness Weekend probably started sometime in the 1990’s and has been growing every year,” Miller said. “This year participation was higher than ever.”
The students of Mu Tau Omega chose which topics to cover and voted on the speakers they felt would present the information best. Four board-certified music therapists and one art therapist gave presentations on the different aspects of music therapy, including “Music Therapy in a Psychiatric Setting” and “Music Therapy and Unborn Babies.”
“This year was a huge success,” said MTO advisor and Music Therapy Program Director Karen Miller. “All of the presentations were very professional and diverse.”
The sixth annual MTO Coffeehouse Concert drew the most attention Friday night as facultymemberGerald Blakeman and his band performed along with New Orleans guest jazz vocalist Betty Shirley.
“The coffee house was very successful and a lot of fun,” Miller said “We definitely had well over our previous record crowd.”
The event drew crowds of people, including many prospective music therapy students interested in learning more about the music therapy profession.
“We wanted to present an opportunity for the general public to increase their knowledge of the profession. We let our students pick the speakers and topics so they could learn more too,” Miller said. “A lot of prospective students came too, to check out the campus and learn more as well.”
SHSU is one of just 70 schools in the nation who offer a degree in music therapy. Students who wish to become professional music therapists must have at least a bachelor of arts in music therapy and must pass a test to become board certified.
Music therapy is a method of therapy in which mental and physical ailments are treated using music. According to Miller, music therapists hold the same goals as non-musical therapies but use music to treat victims of stroke, depression, anxiety and other such illnesses.
“Everyone connects with music,” Miller said. “Music can be used to help a patient open up, figure out what’s going on in their mind or even teach someone to walk again.”
Mu Tau Omega is a student organization with 30-35 members who work to promote the study and awareness of music therapy in the local community. Anyone interested in joining should attend a meeting any Monday at 6 p.m. in the music building.