Music Therapy FAQs

The Music Therapy Program at Seattle Pacific University — the first and only music therapy program in Washington state — offers many opportunities for you, as a dedicated musician, to use your skills and aptitude to serve others through the functional use of music. Below is a list of frequently asked questions related to the program.

Q. I am a high school student interested in music therapy. How can I learn more about this career? What can I do to prepare?

A. The American Music Therapy Association (www.musictherapy.org) offers comprehensive information on many aspects of the field of music therapy. The website offers, for example, an essay on the history of music therapy in the United States, as well as current updates about music therapy around the world; fact sheets on music therapy with specific populations (e.g., child and adolescent behavioral health, military populations, autism spectrum disorder, persons in correctional facilities and/or in crisis and trauma); and how to access research journals, testimonials and resources.

To prepare for the study of music therapy, focus on your musicianship! As an SPU music therapy student, you will learn how to functionally use your music in a treatment setting so the more training you have toward becoming a professional musician, the better. Music therapy students must gain proficiency on piano, guitar, voice and percussion by the time of their graduation. Early training in these instruments will also be helpful.

Q. What if my primary instrument is different from piano, voice, guitar or percussion?

A. That’s great! We have had music therapy students whose primary instrument is the bass guitar, flute, violin, or lower brass instruments. In addition to learning the required instruments during your studies in the program, you will have the opportunity to focus on your primary instrument in private lessons, performance in ensembles, and ultimately a junior (30 minute) recital as an upper division student. Remember, becoming a strong, flexible musician is fundamental to understanding how music can influence others in a clinical setting. You’ll also learn how to use your primary instrument in a music therapy setting.

Q. Am I accepted to the music therapy program as soon as I’m accepted to SPU?

A. The SPU Music Therapy program is considered a competitive degree program. You will have a ‘conditional’ acceptance to the MT program. All intended students take the ‘Introduction to Music Therapy’ class fall term, in which you will learn a broad perspective of the field of music therapy. Winter term of the first year, intended music therapy students take ‘Music Therapy Skills and Repertoire’, in which students begin to learn how to functionally use music to meet a clinical goal and objective for a client. Students will be introduced to board-certified music therapists working in diverse settings in the Seattle area. By the end of the winter term music therapy students will be offered an audition and interview to determine their level of discernment and motivation to continue with the program.

Q. What is involved in the audition and interview for the program?

A. The audition to gain full acceptance to the MT degree program involves:

1. Performing a piece of your choice on your main instrument

2. Your ability to play piano, guitar and sing with a strong voice. All three proficiencies are required for a degree in MT. If you are not proficient on one or more of these instruments, your ability to meet standard level within a reasonable time period would be discussed (students have 3+ years to gain proficiency as an undergraduate student through classes, lessons, mentorship)

3. An essay on why you want to pursue a degree in music therapy, what are your professional and personal interests

4. An interview with the Director of Music Therapy and faculty

*The Music Therapy program is time intensive and requires a significant degree of motivation, ability to have or work on time management and have an awareness of self-care, balance and personal wellness.

Q. Does SPU offer a graduate, e.g., master’s degree in music therapy?

A. No, we do not offer a graduate degree. If you have already earned a baccalaureate degree (B.A.) from SPU or another academic institution, you are eligible to apply to the SPU Music Therapy program as a post-baccalaureate student.

Q. Is an Equivalency degree the same as a Post-baccalaureate degree?

A. Not quite. An Equivalency degree typically requires the student to only complete required coursework to satisfy the core course requirements to demonstrate professional competencies in the MT program without necessarily earning a second B.A. degree. At SPU, a post-baccalaureate student also completes core course work and clinical hours and will earn a second B.A. upon completion of the program.

Q. I have a bachelor’s degree not in music. Can I apply to the MT Program?

A. Yes, as a post-baccalaureate student. An assessment of your musical training, with the option to test out of courses, will determine your course load. All music therapy students, regardless of level of musicianship, engage in private lessons (either on your primary instrument or a new instrument of choice) as well as an ensemble. All music therapy students must demonstrate a functional level of proficiency on piano, percussion, guitar, and use of one’s voice.

Q. How long does the post-baccalaureate degree take?

A. The timeframe for degree completion depends upon a number of factors. For example, having a B.A. degree in music allows an individual to waive all or most of the music course requirements, i.e., music theory, aural skills, music history, that have been previously taken. If an individual has not earned a music degree, then the proposed curriculum on the website may be a good indicator of courses needed.

Core music therapy courses are sequential and are only offered during day times. All music therapy students must earn, at minimum, 180 hours of Practicum (clinical) experience, supervised by board certified music therapists. Students typically do 1 – 2 hours per week during the 10-week term and if possible, gain more hours during the summer break. Students work with the SPU Clinical Coordinator to determine which site(s) best fits the students’ schedule.

For post-baccalaureate and transfer students, the program is typically three years. It takes time to understand and gain skills in the protocol of music therapy, to understand one’s musicianship in relation to clinical goals and objectives, to fulfill the 180 hours of Practicum, and ultimately, prepare for the required six-month Internship and national board exam. The Director of Music Therapy works closely with each student to make sure that courses that can be waived or tested out are done as soon as possible, and to map out individual goals toward graduation.

For information to apply to SPU please contact our Admissions staff (www.spu.edu).

The curriculum for the bachelor’s degree is online on the Music Therapy program website (www.spu.edu/musictherapy).