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What is Music Therapy?What Can I Expect?Typical SessionQualifications of a Music Therapist


A typical session—group or individual—may be structured like this:

  • Opening or greeting song—signals that the session is starting
  • Sing along song—involves the client in the music-making process and promotes relaxation and breathingSaleem, Jerry, and Betty Lou make music during a therapy session
  • Dance or movement activity—initiates the client physically with the session
  • Sing along song—keeps the client focused while relaxing from the physical task
  • Percussion improvisation—establishes a basic, rhythmic musical activity
  • Sing along song with hand motions—combines musical focus, rhythm, and motion
  • Musical improvisation piece with client-friendly instruments—encourages the client to experiment and to explore their creative selves
  • CD listening task, such as "Name that tune" or "Name that artist"—challenge a client's memory, and cognitive and processing abilities
  • Sing along song—relaxes the client while maintaining focus
  • Closing or good-bye song—signals the end of the session

Based on the age and needs of the client, a session runs a minimum of 30 minutes (children and young adults) to a maximum of 60 minutes (adults and seniors). The length of a session depends on the attention span and focus of the client. The frequency of the Electronic Keyboardsessions (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) is determined during the initial assessment, which generally runs longer than a typical music therapy session.

The length of a group session would depend on the number of participants. Groups can range in size from as small as 5 clients to as large as 40 people.

Sessions are adaptable to the involvement and interest level of a client. For example, if a client really enjoys or responds to a particular segment, the therapist may continue that activity. Music therapists are trained to be sensitive to clients' needs and responses, and adjust sessions accordingly.Suzuki QChord

Clients are encouraged to become involved in the music making process during a therapy session. The therapist strives to create an atmosphere and environment that encourages clients to actively participate. Music listening and sing along song activities are integral forms of musical involvement and part of a typical session.

The main instruments used by the music therapist to lead a typical session are piano (keyboards) or guitar. Electric keyboards and guitars have become more portable and are the preferred choices. Advances in computers and technology have afforded many client-friendly instruments, such as the Suzuki QChord. A wide variety of drums and percussion instruments are also effective in promoting client involvement.

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