Monday, May 4, 2015

FAQs: Questions about Undergraduate Music Therapy at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Interested in studying music therapy and wondering about the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy or the Music Therapy Equivalency-Campus (MTE-C) programs?

Below are answers to some common questions which will hopefully stimulate even more of a dialogue during first meetings and auditions or interviews!

Question #1: How long has Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) offered music therapy as a program of study?

SMWC started the undergraduate music therapy program in 1983, under the guidance of Dr. Laurette Bellamy, SP, who felt that music therapy truly fit the mission of the College. Concurrently, the Music Therapy Equivalency-Campus (MTE-C) program was offered since the music therapy coursework is aligned. The only difference is that the equivalency program is a non-degree program, similar to a teacher certification program, where students who possess a music degree complete the music therapy course requirements, practica and clinical internship requirements, and then sit for the board certification examination. In 2000, Dr. Tracy Richardson began the Master of Arts in Music Therapy (MAMT) program and in fall 2014, launched the Music Therapy Equivalency-Distance (MTE-D) program allowing individuals from all over the country to complete their music therapy equivalency via a hybrid format, similar to the model used in our graduate program.

Question #2: What do SMWC graduates do with a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy degree?

They work as music therapists! To practice as a board-certified music therapist, individuals need to possess a bachelor's degree in music therapy (or an equivalency), have completed a minimum of 1,200 clinical training hours (both pre-internship practica and 6-month internship), and then passed the music therapy board certification exam, which is a national examination administered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists (CBMT). Passing this examination leads to the credential of MT-BC (music therapist-board certified).

Some of our students may go on to graduate school or receive additional specialized training, while others may work under other job titles such as: creative arts therapist, expressive arts therapist, case manager, etc. But, a majority of our graduates work as music therapists, with some even starting their own private practice businesses and employing other music therapists as their companies expand!

Question #3: What makes the SMWC Music Therapy undergraduate program unique or special?

A majority of our students and graduates typically say that it is the faculty which make (or made) their experience as a music therapy student wonderful. Our students truly grow and transform during their time in the program as this recent Senior Reflection clearly articulates!

Other unique features of our program include:
  • In the past 10 years, our graduates have had a 100% job placement rate for those who have sought either part-time or full-time work as music therapists within 3 months of completing internship.
  • 99% of our graduates have passed the board certification examination on their first attempt since 2002.
  • Students begin their practicum placements in the 2nd semester of the program, with a developmental approach of observing/assisting-->co-facilitating-->primary facilitator. 
  • Practicum students receive group supervision 1x weekly in a classroom setting and also receive an additional 30 minutes of clinical supervision each week.
  • Students may complete an optional Intensive Music Therapy Practicum the summer after their junior year (or as approved by instructor)
  • Our program emphasizes clinical improvisation, so in addition to developing functional music skills on piano, voice, guitar, and percussion, students also learn how to improvise and compose songs in a clinical setting using both rhythm and tonal instruments in an intentional way.
  • We have small classes allowing faculty to focus on helping each student further develop interests such as special projects, in addition to musical and clinical skills. 

Question #4: What qualities and skills are you looking for in a prospective music therapy student?

Students who excel in our music therapy program possess the following qualities and skills:
  • Ability in, and affinity for, music
  • Emotional maturity and stability
  • Strong interpersonal and academic skills
  • Interest in a wide range of music styles and genres
  • Empathetic and compassionate nature
  • Desire to work within varied healthcare/educational settings
  • Dependable, professional, with good time management skills
  • Excitement for developing relationships with others through music 
High school students are encouraged to take piano in addition to their other applied instrument and to also volunteer in a variety of ways through school/church/other service organizations. In addition, if students can shadow/observe a music therapist working, they are more likely to understand their intended career choice!

Question #5: Are there scholarship opportunities?

Absolutely! Students need to audition in order to be accepted into the Department of Music and Theatre as a music major and at the time of audition, they are also eligible to be considered for music scholarships. For more information about our music scholarship opportunities, click here.

Hopefully the answers to these basic questions will help prospective students better understand what the SMWC Music Therapy program can offer as they move forward with their college applications.
SMWC Conservatory of Music

Sharon R Boyle, Music Therapy faculty
For more information about the SMWC Undergraduate Music Therapy and Music Therapy Equivalency-Campus programs, contact:

Sharon R. Boyle, MM, MT-BC
Associate Professor of Music Therapy
Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy
(phone) 812-535-5145

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