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Sunday, 5 September 2021



Music Therapy in Nigeria by DJ Irawo

Music therapy is the clinical use of music to remedy medical problems.

Music therapists use music to creatively help their clients address social, emotional or physical difficulties via listening, singing, dancing and composing music.

The purpose of music therapy is not to teach clients how to sing or play a musical instrument but to communicate with them through music especially where words fail in order to support them and facilitate positive changes in their behaviour, communication and wellbeing.

Clients who need music therapy services include children and adults of all ages either as individuals or in groups and who are affected by injuries, illnesses, disabilities and challenges.

These clients may suffer from the following challenges or illnesses:

1.   Addiction
2.   Autism
3.   Dementia
4.   Down Syndrome
5.   Cerebral Palsy
6.   Alzheimer
7.   Addiction
8.   Brain injury
9.   Stroke
10.          Mental Illness such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts
11. Childbirth, etc

Benefits of Music Therapy

1.   It can help improve confidence, independence, concentration and communication skills.
2.   Different styles of music can have a significant effect on a person’s mood very quickly by helping clients to experience and process a wide range of emotions such as excitement, sadness, calmness, happiness and thoughtfulness.
3.   It can be used to communicate with clients where words are impossible or not enough.
4.   It enables clients to express themselves in a creative way.
5.   It introduces clients to different cultures as different genres of music can be enjoyed during a music therapy session.
6.   Learning and practising a piece of music can improve memory skills, coordination, reading, comprehension and arithmetical skills.
7.   Music helps in the activation and development of the brain. The pitch, tempo, rhythm, melody and lyrics are processed by different areas of the brain.
For instance,
· The cerebellum processes the rhythm
· The frontal lobes decode the emotional signals created by the music
· A small portion of the temporal lobe helps understand the pitch of music
· The frontal lobes decode the emotional signals created by the music
· The nucleus accumbens can produce strong physical signs such as goose pimples when it hears powerful music.
8.   It is used to support talk therapy and medicinal diagnosis.
9.   It is not a cure for depression and other illnesses. However, it offers short-term and long-term benefits that can enable a client to cope with his or her current medical condition.
10. Music can help bring back good memories that will relax a client. Songs that bring back bad memories are discontinued.

How to Become a Music Therapist

The title of MUSIC THERAPIST is a title protected by law and can only be used by registered practitioners.
This law does not apply to Nigeria as it is a new career here.

For now, the rendering of my music therapy service is based on my musical talent, mental health experience and research.
Currently, there are no music therapy schools at the diploma and degrees levels in Nigeria and there are less than ten music therapists in Nigeria.

These music therapists had to study the course outside of Nigeria and join foreign professional bodies to boost their knowledge in this profession.

However, music therapy has been included as part of the courses taught in the Music Psychology Graduate Degree Program and also as an elective course for the Master of Music Education students at the Creative Arts Department, University of Lagos.
Music therapy is practised by health and music professionals in other countries including South Africa.
To become a music therapist in the United Kingdom, one must be registered with the Health and Care Council (HCPC). This involves completing professional training at the postgraduate level at one of the following institutions approved by the HCPC:
1.     Anglia Ruskin University
2.     Guildhall School of Music & Drama
3.     Nordoff Robbins - course validated by Goldsmiths, University of London
4.     Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh
5.     University of Derby
6.     University of Roehampton
7.     University of South Wales
8.     University of the West of England, Bristol

Graduates from these programs are eligible for HCPC registration. 

Once qualified, one can also join the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) as a practitioner member.

Courses last for two years (full time) and three to four years (part-time). Clinical placements form part of the training and cover a range of work settings and client groups.

A music therapy student will need a high level of practical musicianship, personal and interpersonal skills to get on a training course.

Even if you do not have a first degree in music, you may be considered if your degree is in another health-related or social work course such as psychology, sociology or guidance and counselling as long as you can show proficiency in musical performance.

An equivalent professional qualification or extensive experience in a related field may also be acceptable.

If you do not have a degree, you will have to prove that you have the necessary academic skills to work at master’s level.

The application process includes a written application, an interview and an audition.

However, individual music therapy schools may have different entry requirements.

In addition, you may need to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. 

This is an executive non-departmental public body that is established and empowered to help organizations make safer recruitment decisions by conducting checks on an individual’s criminal record.

I have a degree in accounting and a certificate in music. I do not qualify to study music therapy and I am not ready to do any first degree anymore or master's anymore. 

I just want to make money!!!!

Cost of Studying Music Therapy 

To study music therapy in the United Kingdom, be ready to spend at least €18,350 on tuition excluding the cost of accommodation, food, clothing, books, stationery, personal hygiene, telephone, travel, socializing and miscellaneous costs.  

Skills Required to be a Music Therapy

1. Communication skills to liaise with other medical and educational professionals, parents, relatives and care workers.
2. Personal maturity and emotional stability to deal with challenging situations.
3. Ability to empathize with clients of all ages and with wide-ranging needs.
4. Flexibility and adaptability - sessions cannot be rigidly pre-planned as you need to respond to the needs of your client.
5. Patience - music therapy is not exclusively results-based and progress may be slow
6. Respect for client’s confidentiality
7. A high level of self-reflection and self-awareness
9. If working in private practice, you will also need business and administration skills.

Salary of a Music Therapist

A music publisher in the United States earns between $31,000 and $152, 000 per annum. 

So, what is stopping you from becoming a music therapist?

Let me know in the comment section.

Musically yours,
DJ Irawo

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