Intro: What would you think of a job that allows you to combine your love of music and caring for people with a steady income? Interested? Then read on...
The Story: Although for a long time I was unable to find a job in the music field, I am now a music therapist working in a day program for adults who have developmental disabilities. All of the people with whom I work are mentally retarded and many have significant physical limitations. I found this job through a help wanted ad in the New York Times. My education for this job consists of a Master's Degree in Music Therapy from New York University. In my previous job, I worked at a community center supervising after school and adult education programs.
My day typically starts with me checking my mailbox and e-mail. There are times, however, when I may need to have an early meeting with another clinician or with my supervisor. Before seeing clients, either individually or in groups, I develop my session plans.
During my sessions, I use music, usually active music-making, to address a variety of skills on which my clients are working. These skills may include, but are not limited to, increasing motor skills, improving articulation, and learning appropriate social skills. I use a wide variety of instruments such as drums, guitar, piano, and small percussion pieces.
In addition to running sessions, I also attend clinical staff meetings and meetings concerning individual clients. After the clients go home, I spend the rest of my day writing reports, creating MIDI files (MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface) and documenting sessions. I create MIDI files with a keyboard, a computer, and MIDI software.
The main modification that I need to do this job is a computer with a screen reader. Another thing that is very helpful is that I keep my instruments and other materials well-organized. I also ask other staff members, whenever possible, to please send me memos and meeting lists via e-mail, rather than in print.
The thing I like best about my job is that I get to work with some wonderful clients and staff. I have a lot of flexibility with regard to the activities I create. In addition, I have many instruments to use and almost all of my requests to purchase new ones are approved. The thing I like least about my job is the salary, but that's probably true for most people.
Someone considering this job needs to have abilities in piano, voice, and guitar. The individual must also have some musical skills prior to entering a music therapy program. A degree in music therapy can be earned at the bachelor's and master's level. In addition, the prospective music therapist needs very good interpersonal and writing skills. Finally, a good music therapist must be creative and willing to work hard.
The Contact: Janet Ingber.