NYU Music Therapy
NYU Music Therapy is a clinical program that uses music-making as an outlet to improve physical, emotional and social wellbeing. Housed within both the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions and Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University, this initiative has proven successful.
This program is designed to prepare individuals with an interest in music to become professional music therapists and incorporate Nordoff-Robbins music therapy philosophy into their practice. It brings together theoretical expertise from professors of music therapy, psychology and psychiatry with experiential learning for music therapy practice; it has been accredited by the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA).
A rigorous curriculum prepares students for the profession of music therapy. This includes lectures, video excerpts from clinical work and experiential workshops. Furthermore, at least 15 hours must be spent directly observing and practicing in music therapy.
Music improvisation in music therapy groups encourages participants to express themselves musically through a non-prescriptive, spontaneous approach (Ansdell, Fidelibus, Hesser). Group improvisation allows individuals to discover and explore various possible musical expressions (Ansdell, Fidelibus, Hesser). It may help people find their own voices and learn different ways of relating in an interactive group setting (Ritholz).
No matter the age or gender, therapists work together with their client to guide and support them through music-making experiences. Music therapy can be tailored to address issues such as emotion regulation or discovering potential strengths.
Group improvisations require participants to be attentive, aware of the group sound and responsive when interacting with one another. This culture of listening encourages creativity, self-awareness and musical flexibility; it allows individuals to become more knowledgeable about their role within the ensemble so that they may adjust accordingly (Bruscia, Fidelibus, Hesser, Marcus, Stephens).
Music-making offers people a safe space to express a variety of emotions, such as fear, sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness and joy (Ansdell, Hesser and Marcus). Through group sound they can gain an enhanced awareness of themselves and their feelings while working through these different states together.
They can develop empathy and empathic responses to one another when they pay attention to what is occurring in the moment (Ansdell, Hesser). Doing this may teach them to be less reactive and more adaptive under stress (Bruscia, Shapiro).
Music therapy differs from verbal group therapy in that it doesn’t require the therapist to create a structured script or set of rules. They don’t assume that what participants hear will have any particular significance for them; instead, they pay attention to various elements like touch, dynamics, melody, harmony, rhythm and instrument combinations while taking into account body language, eye contact and facial expressions (Bruscia, Fidelibus, Stephens).