Music Therapy or Music Education?

Music Therapy or Music Education?How is music therapy different from music education? Why should my child receive music therapy if they have a music class at school? Do they work on the same things? If these are some of the questions that have crossed your mind then continue reading as the purpose of this blog post is: to explain the differences of music therapy and music education, how the goals are different within these two music settings, and to clarify any misconceptions.

First, some basic definitions:

  1. Music therapy addresses non-music goals with music and is administered by a board certified music therapist. Goals may be similar to occupational therapy or speech therapy but the difference is the modality and innovative intervention of music by a professional music therapist. Requirements to be a Board Certified Music Therapist (MT-BC) are a Bachelor’s degree in music therapy, a six month internship in a clinical setting, and passing the Certification Board for Music Therapists exam.
  2. Music Education (whether it be music lessons, band, choir, orchestra or general music) is the teaching and learning of music concepts. Requirements for music educators are a bachelor’s degree, student teaching internship, and certification. However, these requirements may vary from state to state.
  3. Kindermusik is a type of music education specifically tailored to using activities promoting child development. Requirements to obtain a license are some type of musical background or skill and completion of the Kindermusik training. Fun Fact- Ms. Laura used to be licensed in Kindermusik!
    In addition, music therapy promotes growth and development of appropriate social skills, self-expression, fine and gross motor skills, academic skills, etc. These skills are often associated with the child’s Individual Education Plan and may be addressed in other therapies. Also, music therapy treatment is goal directed, individualized, and re-assessed every 6 months to promote the client’s success. Music education may follow a general curriculum and is not addressing specific areas of deficit, while in music therapy that is the focus of treatment.

In regards to mental health, music therapists are present to counsel groups or individuals on objectives addressing self-care, positive coping skills, positive leisure activities, wellness, effective communication, assertiveness, time and anger management, etc. Each session, I explain what music therapy is and ask for the patient’s perceptions of music therapy so I can clarify any misconceptions. Occasionally, patients have an expectation that they are attending a “music class”. I always emphasize that this is similar to other groups that they attend, however, we are addressing these objectives, as listed above, with a music intervention.

Lastly, here at Key Changes we do provide music lessons, adaptive music lessons, and music groups. This can present a gray area as these services may be more music education based. I try to educate the difference of these two settings and how music therapy would look different from a general music group or lesson.

Now a question for you- How would you explain the difference between music therapy and music education?

Source :

Cabinet de Musicothérapie Sandrine Bedu