Preparing for the future: A description of client music preferences and musical preparedness of music therapists

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Mensah, Nathan
Master of Arts in Music Therapy
Music therapists often use client-preferred music in order to build rapport with clients, decrease their anxiety, increase relaxation, and increase overall efficacy of music interventions. The American Music Therapy Association states music therapists are required to play a wide variety of genres for use in sessions. Client’s musical tastes have grown diverse due to music streaming, and some music therapists may not have the musical skills necessary to recreate these styles in sessions. Currently, there is no data to show which genres and music styles are most commonly requested by their clients, or data to show which genres music therapists feel musically prepared or unprepared to use in sessions. A survey was used to collect data from board-certified music therapists to ask about which genres their clients most commonly request, as well as which genres they feel musically prepared using in sessions. The survey’s findings were that client’s most frequently requested Children’s, Classic Country, Classic Rock, Gospel, Hymn, Oldies, and Pop Music. Respondents reported to feeling most musically prepared to use genres that were most frequently requested by their clients. Music therapists reported not feeling musically prepared to use genres associated with World Music cultures or genres requiring use of electronic or synth-based instruments such as Bachata, EDM, Funk, Heavy Metal, Hip Hop/Rap, J-Pop, K-Pop, Latin Hip Hop/Latin Rap, Latin Pop, Merengue, Punk, Reggaeton, Salsa, Ska, Trap, and Video Game Music. Music therapists reported that personal practice, intentional listening, and continuing coursework would be the three best ways to enhance their overall musical preparedness. The clinical implications of the study could lead to changes in the education of future music therapists to refine their musical preparedness, as well as guiding the current field towards solutions to rectify weak music skill areas in order to provide best treatment to their clients.