As the awareness of music therapy as a viable treatment option increases, music therapists continue to be in demand. They work in schools, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes, hospices and community centers. Music therapists provide services for adults and children with various medical conditions, cognitive and developmental disabilities, speech and hearing impairments, physical disabilities, psychiatric disorders, and neurological impairments, among others. Music therapists are usually members of an interdisciplinary team who support the goals and objectives for each client within the context of the music therapy setting.
Over the course of study, music therapy majors will take classes in fundamental musicianship, music therapy, and behavioral sciences. A total of thirteen new courses have been added to the School of Music’s existing curricula. While students who wish to pursue music therapy will audition on the principle instrument of their choice, they will also learn piano, guitar and voice skills as part of their program.
The program includes six clinical practica and a 900 clinical hour (approximately 6-month, full-time) Internship experience. These practica begin during the sophomore year and are taken concurrently with lecture-based courses in music therapy, providing both an in-class and community-based, interactive components. These experiences continue each semester through the senior year, allowing student placement in a variety of clinical settings with individuals and groups of varying developmental levels and needs addressed.
The successful completion of the internship experience is required not only for the degree, but for students to be eligible to take the national board certification exam offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists as well. Students will be eligible to participate in an internship as early as June following the 8th semester and completion of all other required coursework. Internship credit is offered for 3 credits one semester and 6 credits the following semester, or vice versa (for a total of 9 credits) in order to accommodate the financial and credit-load needs of the student.
For example, if a student completes all coursework in the spring semester and has secured an internship beginning in June, the student would register for 3 credit hours for the first portion of their internship (occurring in the summer semester) and then register for 6 credit hours in the fall semester. This order may be reversed, if necessary, for students who are beginning their internship in the fall (they would register for 6 credit hours) and carry through the spring (registered for 3 credit hours).
In addition to the fundamental musicianship and music-therapy specific courses, students will also take courses in related areas such as psychology, special education, health sciences, and development. Certain aspects of the curriculum will address skills necessary for career management, including advocacy, ethics and preparation for the Board Certification Exam. The following outline demonstrates the grouping of courses we will offer and how they correspond to the recommendations of the American Music Therapy Association.
structure, content, and time requirements will enable students to develop the
range of knowledge, skills, and competencies expected of those holding a
professional baccalaureate degree in music therapy.
The national accrediting body for music programs, the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) have strict standards for professional undergraduate music degrees including music therapy. The music therapy program at WVU will structure learning outcomes to meet the standards set by both NASM and AMTA. As a result, the content and order of courses offered in the major are structured to introduce competencies and then refine and practice those same competencies, allowing multiple opportunities for students to develop the knowledge, skills and abilities required to function as a board certified music therapist.