music therapy history

The idea of music therapy actually has its roots in ancient times, but it really only started to get serious attention after World War I and World War II. During these times, community musicians visited Veterans hospitals, and they played music for veterans who were suffering physical and emotional trauma brought on by the wars. The patients at these hospitals showed significant improvements after the music performances. Consequently, the doctors and nurses requested that musicians be hired to come to the hospitals.

In due course, it was decided that musicians assisting in hospitals needed specialized training.  In 1944, Michigan State University began offering a music therapy degree program, the first of its kind in the world.  The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) was founded later, in 1988.

The positive effects of music therapy have been so well recognized that many insurance companies cover it as a form of medical treatment. Both Medicare and Medicaid cover it, also, provided that it is prescribed by a physician and the patient shows improvement from the music therapy.

Many people erroneously believe that clients of music therapy need to have musical abilities in order to benefit from music therapy. This belief is not true. Also, some believe that only one type of music can be beneficial for use in music therapy. This belief is also untrue.  In actual fact, any type of music can be helpful in helping a client. The type of music used depends on the client’s preferences, as well as on the individual circumstances and the purpose of treatment.  Also, the client’s overall goals from the therapy help determine the type of music to be used in the music therapy.

People who are already emotionally and physically healthy are now using music therapy to help reduce stress. Drumming, alone or with others, and listening to music mindfully can help make possible relaxation.  In addition, music can be used to help stimulate physical exercise, as many people are capable of working out longer and harder when the workout routine is accompanied by music.

In spite of it’s long history, and roots in the suffering of wartime, music therapy today is an established form of treatment for helping people of all ages and genders.

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