Posted on 05 April 2012.
A proposal to offer a music therapy degree at Indiana Wesleyan University was approved by the Academic Affairs Council March 29.
After three years of preparation, the degree program is in its final stages of approval. The faculty senate will review the proposal on April 10 and vote on it in May, after which time the university will pursue accreditation for the degree from the American Music Therapy Association and the National Association of Schools of Music later in the year.
“We’re moving very positively through the process,” said Dr. Lisa Dawson, associate professor of music, voice and opera studies at IWU.
If the degree passes the senate, students who are interested in pursuing it can begin doing so in the fall, according to Dawson.
The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as an allied health profession in which music is used within a therapeutic relationship to address the physical, psychological, cognitive and social needs of individuals.
Put simply, Dawson defines music therapy as the application of music in a therapeutic clinical setting.
“It is interdisciplinary,” said Dawson. “We love that about this program. It [includes] a lot of existing classes between the Music Division and the psych division and, of course, gen eds.”
The degree proposal would include eight new classes: psychology of music, principles of music therapy, assessment and evaluation in music therapy, music therapy methods and techniques, research in music therapy, influence of music on behavior, music therapy with various populations and a six-hour internship.
“It’s really nice to be able to offer a whole new degree program and only have to add eight courses,” said Dawson.
According to the American Music Therapy Association, “a career in music therapy offers challenge, opportunity, and distinctive rewards to those interested in working with people of all ages with various disabilities. Music therapists are employed in many different settings including general and psychiatric hospitals, community mental health agencies, rehabilitation centers, day care facilities, nursing homes, schools and private practice.”
“The compassionate nature of Christ,” said Dr. Todd Guy, chair of the Music Division at IWU, “calls us to have that healing idea in our mind and in our hearts – that idea of helping people through discomfort and pain.”
“Evidence in studies show that music helps in so many ways in terms of healing, in terms of helping people cope with mental and physical illnesses,” Guy added, “so it does have healing power.”
“If you get on YouTube, you can see these crazy videos of brain activity related to music,” said Dawson. “It’s fascinating.”
Current and prospective IWU students have expressed interest in pursuing this degree, according to Dawson. One of these students is Jessica Alford (so).
“I have wanted to pursue music therapy as my major from the beginning,” said Alford. “But since there are only two Christian colleges that provide music therapy as an undergraduate degree, I chose to come to IWU in hope that they would get it before I graduated.”
“I have always seen myself working in a hospital, but I know I could never be a nurse or a doctor,” said Alford. “Music therapists work in the same kinds of atmospheres as nurses and doctors, but you don’t have to take science classes, and you get to use music on a daily basis. Who doesn’t love listening to music?”
Of course, as Dawson pointed out, “There are lots of places where people are careless with music.”
Because music can be used to manipulate people, it is important that people “know it and understand it and become a part of this research that we interface with music,” said Dawson.
For students interested in pursuing the potential new major next fall, Alford gives a bit of advice: “If you have a passion for music and people, and you want to work in a hospital/medical office atmosphere this might be a major you want to look into. Music therapy is as cool as it sounds.”