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A career in music therapy

‘Music is therapy and has always been so’ - Yehudi Menuhin.

The concept of using music as a therapy relies on its power as a universal language to communicate without words, which can act as a barrier to reaching many different kinds of people. Music therapists, by developing a relationship with their clients through music, help them to increase and realise their potential.

Music therapy aims to impart self-confidence, a means of self-expression and self-awareness, and to aid communication and social skills via a shared musical experience. Music therapy sessions generally use improvised music in various styles and idioms to produce a response in the client, which is then developed and built on in subsequent sessions. Clients can be of any age and may have one or more of a variety of physical, mental or social disabilities, although certain courses and approaches to music therapy may concentrate on a specific area.

Work may be carried out individually, in groups or, more often, a combination of both. Music therapists will often be working as part of a team in conjunction with doctors, psychiatrists, physiotherapists, teachers and parents, whether they are based in a hospital or special school, or operating privately.


There are seven music therapy courses available in the UK, all of which demand a high level of practical musicianship, generally coupled with a music diploma or degree.

MA Music Therapy, Anglia Ruskin University

Admissions Officer, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, CB1 1PT
T: 01223 363271, ext 2045
E: [email protected]
W: www.anglia.ac.uk

MA Music Therapy, Guildhall School of Music and Drama / City University

The Registrar, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Barbican, London, EC2Y 8DT
T: 020 7628 2571
W: www.gsmd.ac.uk

Master of Music Therapy (Nordoff-Robbins), Nordoff-Robbins / City University

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre, 2 Lissenden Gardens, London, NW5 1PP
T: 020 7267 4496
E: [email protected]
W: www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk

MSc Music Therapy (Nordoff-Robbins), Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

Queen Margaret University, University Drive, Musselburgh, EH21 6UU
T: 0131 474 0000
E: [email protected]
W: www.qmu.ac.uk

MA Music Therapy, Roehampton University

Roehampton University, Erasmus House, Roehampton Lane, London, SW15 5PU
T: 020 8392 3232
E: [email protected]
W: www.roehampton.ac.uk

MA Music Therapy (Community Music Therapy / Nordoff-Robbins), part-time, Royal Northern College of Music / City University
[hosted in Manchester by the RNCM]

Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre, 2 Lissenden Gardens, London, NW5 1PP
T: 020 7267 4496
E: [email protected]
W: www.nordoff-robbins.org.uk

MA Music Therapy, part-time (3 years), University of the West of England

Continuing Professional Development and Conference Unit, Faculty of Health and Social Care, Health Training and Research Centre, University of the West of England, Frenchay Campus, Bristol, BS16 1QY
T: 0117 328 1158
E: [email protected]
W: www.uwe.ac.uk

Career prospects

Qualified music therapists can usually expect to work with children and adults with a range of special needs including learning disabilities, physical and psychological disorders and sensory impairments. Music therapists are usually employed by the National Health Service, local education authorities, the Department for Work and Pensions or are self-employed. Work is carried out in various settings, such as hospitals, special schools, day centres, the community or in private practice.

Other useful addresses

British Association for Music Therapy

2nd Floor, Claremont Building
24 – 27 White Lion Street
London, N1 9PD
T: 020 7837 6100
E: [email protected]
W: www.bamt.org

The British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) is the professional body for music therapy in the UK, providing both practitioners and non-practitioners with information, professional support, and training opportunities.

Incorporated Society of Musicians

4–5 Inverness Mews, London W2 3JQ
T: 020 7221 3499
E: [email protected]
W: www.ism.org

The professional association for all musicians. Music therapists benefit particularly from free public liability and legal expenses insurance schemes, free legal and tax advice and the monthly Music Journal.

National Music and Disability Information Service

Vicki Smith, NMDIS, Sound Sense, 7 Tavern Street, Stowmarket, IP14 1PJ
T: 01449 673990
E: [email protected]
W: www.soundsense.org

Information and advice on all aspects of music and disability issues, as well as publications.

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