What is music therapy?

I was one of those kids-you know the kids who know what career she wants almost from birth. Well, mine wasn't from birth, but I can actually remember the day when someone told me about this thing called "music therapy."

I was 14 years old, had been in the school band for several years (some classmates called us "band jocks"), and I played guitar. My vocal coach told me about music therapy, but in her version music therapists prescribed music the way a doctor might prescribe a medication. While that's not true, even my 14-year-old self could see music therapy was perfect for me.

In the years since, my music therapy career has changed drastically. I used to work with school aged children and now I work with adults and their babies. I used to help kids learn to count, read, share toys, and talk. Now I help mothers have fulfilling, safe, and empowering births.

Music therapy during birth provides a connection to familiarity, love, and peace at an unfamiliar and sometimes fearful time.

But regardless of the location or group of people, music therapy is using music for non-musical purposes. My clients are active participants in their sessions. I don't create or play music for them, I create and play music with them.

We might write a song, talk about lyrics, use an instrument to express feelings or thoughts instead of words, or put a mantra to a tune. Music therapy creates the opportunity for clients to share their experiences and feelings or learn something new in a setting that is inviting and fun.

Music therapy during birth provides a connection to familiarity, love, and peace at an unfamiliar and sometimes fearful time. It helps women move, breathe, visualize, and connect during with their partners and with their births. And it helps parents connect with themselves and each other and bond with their babies.

When I was 14, I had no idea where a career in music therapy would lead me. But I'm grateful that my vocal coach had the insight to tell me about music therapy...even if it wasn't quite what she thought it was.