Music therapy is becoming by far one of the most popular career choices for musicians who also have an interest in psychology or sociology. Combining practical musicianship with deep understanding of social sciences, music therapy has become one of the highest-paying careers in the realm of music.
While all music therapists must complete at least a master's degree in the field, the roads to get there are varied. Many universities have designed and adopted curriculums for undergraduate degrees in music therapy, but music majors with minors in psychology, sociology, or criminology may also apply for master's studies in music therapy, particularly if they took available music therapy classes during their undergrad degree studies.
Music therapists have many roles. Many music therapists work in hospitals, where they assist in the recovery of patients who are suffering from mental illness, emotional crises, or even stroke or heart attack. Music therapy can help to address the symptoms of a wide range of physical, neurological and cognitive disorders, including depression, anxiety, autism, hypertension, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder.
While formerly music therapists were mostly find in mental institutions, the study of music therapy's effect on a broad range of health problems has resulted in a tremendous expansion of the profession. Music therapists may also be found in regular state and private hospitals, outpatient clinics, and even in prisons.
For musicians who are interested in music therapy, the acquisition of a master's degree represents an investment rather than a risk – which is the case for many practicing musicians, as music is still not yet a lucrative profession in the United States in particular and the west in general. Qualified music therapists will generally receive a generous compensation package even from their first year of practice. Music therapy combines heavy use of musical skill with knowledge of the social sciences, making it a well-paid profession that still permits the musician to actually make music all through their working hours.
The field of music therapy is expected to continue to grow over the next decade, and scholastic programs in the discipline with it. Sometimes, music therapy can be adapted as a part-time or secondary career option to composition, performance, or teaching, depending on the candidate's specialization; and sometimes music therapy can be adapted to a dual master's degree program in another musical discipline. Regardless of how the musician chooses to pursue work in music therapy, it is one of the most lucrative – and for many, one of the most fulfilling – work options available to musicians in the twenty-first century.