What is Music Therapy
Music Therapy is the process of clients and qualified music therapists working together through music to promote mental and physical health. Through carefully planned musical experiences, the client is provided with opportunities to address therapeutic goals across a wide range of needs. Music therapists work with individuals and groups from a variety of age ranges and life circumstances. The therapist may work as a member of a therapeutic team or as a private practitioner to assess client needs, formulate treatment goals and develop music-based strategies for healing. Music therapists work in medical, psychiatric, developmental, nursing, end-of-life, forensic and community care. The Cali School assists our graduates in the process of identifying professional opportunities.
Music Therapy at the Cali School
Established in 1969, our program is one of the country’s oldest and most distinguished. It features closely supervised clinical work each semester at highly reputable New Jersey facilities as well as schools, nursing homes and hospitals in New York City. In addition, the program offers a Music Therapy Training Group, Introduction to Guided Imagery and Music, and specialized courses in piano accompaniment and clinical improvisation. Guest clinicians from the U.S. and abroad offer presentations and workshops. Recent guest clinicians have included: Clive Robbins, Clare O’Callaghan (Australia) and Elaine Streeter (Great Britain).
Find a Program to Meet Your Needs
1. If you hold an undergraduate degree in Music Therapy and/or are you Board Certified: Learn about the MA in Music Therapy
2. If you do not have a music therapy degree and/or certification, but you hold an undergraduate degree in music or its equivalent (usually 60 undergraduate music credits) in music coursework, learn about these options:
- Basic: BA in Music Therapy degree only; or Board Certification training only
- Advanced: MA in Music Therapy (completing necessary undergraduate and graduate courses, as needed).
3. If you do not hold an undergraduate degree in music or its equivalent (usually 60 undergraduate music credits) and if you have no, or limited, university-level music coursework/training: Learn about the BA in Music Therapy
The BA in Music Therapy program at Montclair State University, approved by the American American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), normally takes 4 1/2 years to complete. The training of a music therapist is a unique combination of music, psychology and music therapy, including music therapy clinical work.
In addition to regular coursework, a six-month full-time supervised internship is required. Students may intern at any of the over 150 approved internship facilities across the United States. While some Montclair State students intern in this immediate area, many take advantage of the opportunity to work in another part of the country. The intensive spirit of the internship provides the student with the day-to-day supervision necessary to refine one’s clinical skills and end one’s academic training. Some internships provide a stipend and/or room and board.
The graduate of this program is eligible to apply to take the examination for Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) through the Certification Board for Music Therapists.
Information about internships (subject to change): Music Therapy Internships (PDF)
Link to Undergraduate Course Catalog:
- BA Music Therapy – Guitar Primary
- BA Music Therapy – Keyboard Primary
- BA Music Therapy – Strings, Brass, Woodwind and Percussion Primary
- BA Music Therapy – Voice Primary
The only professional designation available for music therapists is the MT-BC (Music Therapist-Board Certified), granted by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT), upon successful passage of the Board Certification Examination. A music therapist may also hold the designations RMT (Registered Music Therapist), CMT (Certified Music Therapist) or ACMT (Advanced Certified Music Therapist), initials which were conferred before 1998 by the now-superseded National Association of Music Therapy and American Association for Music Therapy. Both the RMT and CMT remain active credentials for the practice of music therapy, as attested to by the American Music Therapy Association.
In order to become a Board Certified Music Therapist, students who already have a degree in fields other than music therapy are eligible to apply for the Certification Program in Music Therapy. This non-degree program allows students to take those courses (music, psychology, music therapy) specifically needed for eligibility to sit for the examination leading to the credential of Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC). Some students will wish to take these courses without planning to continue with graduate study, while others will take them as prerequisites for graduate study.
Link to Graduate Course Catalog: Music Therapy Certificate Program – Graduate
Link to the Federal Department of Education: Financial aid disclosure for the Music Therapy Certificate Program
The Master of Arts (MA) in Music, Concentration in Music Therapy program offers a 40.5 credit combination of supportive psychology and research courses, including courses in assessment, clinical improvisation techniques, group music therapy (experiential and client-centered), and teaching and supervision. All of these courses include applied work.
Students have the opportunity to complete professional level writing in the thesis seminar, two relevant electives and a final thesis.
The program has been known as a comprehensive, eclectic music therapy program since 1969. We take pride in the ability to provide you with excellent clinical placement experiences; careful academic advisement; and nationally and internationally known faculty within the music therapy program, the music school, and other departments you may wish to explore, such as gerontology, child life, psychology, learning disabilities, special education and behavioral neuroscience.
Link to the Graduate Course Catalog: MA, Music Therapy
David Ott Laboratory for Music and Health
Another unique feature of the Cali School Music Therapy program is the David Ott Laboratory. The Ott Lab’s resources for research and practice in the psychology of music include: interactive sensors for physiological feedback during both active and receptive music experiences; computer hardware for recording and display of data; iPod for music storage and retrieval; Somatron for vibro-acoustic experiences; and a variety of musical instruments for active music making. Students gain a practical understanding of these resources, and practice in collection and presentation of physiological data to inform clinical intervention and music therapy research.
The Laboratory’s mission supports the development of research skills for students, interns, graduates, practicing clinicians and collegial academic institutions. Students conduct research oriented toward physiological outcomes of music and music therapy interventions and publish results in a variety of scientific journals. Their practical experience is applicable to their work as practicing music therapists. For more information, contact Ott Lab Coordinator Dr. Eric Miller, email@example.com.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Students do not apply for scholarships to the Cali School. They may be awarded at the time of acceptance into the program or after students are already enrolled. Several scholarships and fellowships for music therapy majors are provided through the David Ott Music Therapy Fund, established by Tom and Lucy Ott in memory of their son, David. Two David Ott Scholarships of $500 each are awarded each year to undergraduate and/or post-baccalaureate music therapy students, one to an upper-level student and one to an intern. The David Ott Fellowship is awarded to an incoming matriculated graduate music therapy student and provides a total of $4000, with $1000 awarded each semester for four semesters. The Cali School of Music provides scholarships on a competitive basis.
Montclair State University’s tuition is quite reasonable compared to many other schools, leading to less need for large scholarship assistance than at more expensive schools. Additional information on financial aid is available from the University Financial Aid Office or at 973-655-4461.
Readings and Resources
Introductory Readings – Books
- Bruscia, K. (Ed). (1991). Case Studies in Music Therapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.
- Davis, W. B., Gfeller, K., Thaut, M. (1997). An Introduction to Music Therapy: Theory and Practice. 2nd Edition. Boston: McGraw Hill.
- Goodman, K. D. (1981). Music therapy. In S. Arieti (Ed.), American Handbook of Psychiatry, Vol. VII: Advances and New Directions. New York: Basic Books
Journals and Web Resources
- The Arts in Psychotherapy
- AMTA – American Music Therapy Association
- CBMT – Certification Board for Music Therapy
- Music Therapy World
For more information, contact:
Dr. Brian Abrams, Music Therapy Coordinator