Understanding Music Therapy

March 15, 2024

It’s a common belief: music has the power to heal.

MusiCounts helps transform schools and communities across Canada by providing musical instruments, equipment and resources to those in need, ensuring kids have access to the power of music. Much like teachers are part of this work, so are music therapists.

March is Music Therapy Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to highlight the power of music to heal. Unfortunately, music therapy is greatly misunderstood. Music therapists are not volunteers, as is often the misconception, but a rather real and rewarding occupation that takes years of study to achieve. Music therapists are musicians who want to use their talent and passion to help those in need. Music therapists are psychologists who understand how to use music in order to treat their clients. Music Therapy Awareness Month is a chance to learn what music therapists do and how it can be supported.

The music industry is a diverse field. There are many ways you can use music as a tool to reach people, and music therapy is one that doesn’t get much of a spotlight. Let’s work to make music therapy a household name in the healthcare world.

Meet the Music Therapy Association of Ontario (MTAO) - we chatted with Ami Di Nino, President of MTAO and Callahan Connor, Public Relations and BOD - and got a deeper insight into what music therapy is, why they do it, and what opportunities they think music therapy has for the future.

“Expand evidence and research… For me, I want to see that continue to grow because that’s where we get our validity. Music therapy in Canada right now is not recognized as a therapy that is government-regulated, as opposed to psychotherapy… So we want evenutally for that to happen and we’ll get there, but where it really will change and actually become something that a doctor would prescribe is through that quantitative data” - Ami Di Nino

“I have experienced a lot of personal growth and healing and reflection through my own relationship with music… I feel like I am connecting to something much larger than myself… that has been giving me a sense of meaning. I have been lucky to see sorrow turn into joy, or isolation to turn into connection and validation. And it’s felt like a privilege to be apart of very deep witnessing, deep sharing through [music]” - Callahan Connor

MusiCounts supports music therapy, along with culturally-relevant and technology-forward through our MusiCounts Slaight Family Innovation Fund and SiriusXM Soundwaves MusiCounts Community Fund.

In February 2024, we visited one of our SiriusXM Soundwaves MusiCounts Community Fund grant recipients at Centre de Pédiatrie Sociale de Québec, and got to see first-hand how music therapy is utilized and its impact.

'The Centre de pédiatrie sociale has an incredibly dedicated team who accompany children up to 18 years old in all aspects of their life. They have created a music therapy room that feels warm, welcoming, and safe – a perfect environment for their music therapy program, which is led by the talented and kind, Caroline Dupont. It was inspiring to see what they have been able to create with the help of their grant.” — Genevieve Coholan-Lachance, Programs

There are many ways you can get involved in supporting music therapy this March during the awareness month. Some include:

  • Attending music therapy sessions or workshops so you have a hands-on experience to share with friends, family or online.
  • Find local music therapy charity and organizations that you can donate to.
  • Understanding the field by reading up on research and case studies on music therapy.