Reporter: Brian Stewart
ATHENS, GA–Music therapy is a form of therapy that many people may not have heard about. And yet it has been around for over fifty years. Music Therapy is offered as a major here at UGA, and the training involved can be intense.
Bells, drums, and egg shakers: these are just a few of the instruments that might occupy the average music therapist’s car trunk. But what exactly is music therapy?
“The music provides the basis. It provides the means of establishing communication. The therapy happens in that relationship between the therapy and the client,” said Dr. Ellen Ritchey, Professor of Music Therapy at the University of Georgia.
Students are brought into Music Therapy coursework fairly early; they start in their second semester.
Their first class is a basic guitar class that teaches basic music therapy skills.
Throughout their time at UGA they gain valuable practical experience with a range of clients, including a classroom of adults with Downs Syndrome that meets every Monday.
Music therapists must be fluent in a variety of instruments, including guitar, piano, percussion instruments, and voice.
They incorporate a wide range of items into their work, too. From beach balls to parachutes, anything imaginable might be applicable. Even puppets can work.
Sounds like fun, right?
Meet Brittany Taylor. She is a UGA graduate, and just completed her internship with the Fulton County School System.
And she knows all too well how difficult yet rewarding being a music therapist can be.
“Definitely working one-on-one with that client can be very, very rewarding,” Taylor said.
After their internship they then must complete the Music Therapy Board certification test. Once they pass the test, only then can they become a licensed music therapist.
The Music Therapy program here at U-G-A currently has around thirty-five students. And they encourage anyone interested in learning more about it to attend their Music Therapy Musicale. The event is held every February in the UGA School of Music.
Promoting wellness with music: that’s a tune we can all dance to.