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Released July 25, 2002
MUW to offer music therapy degree this fall
COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Mississippi University for Women, in keeping with its tradition of being an innovative leader in education, will offer a program leading to a bachelor of music therapy degree in the Division of Fine & Performing Arts this fall.
“Music therapy is a systematic process in which music is used to assist persons with a variety of needs to achieve overall health,” according to Kristen Cole, who was selected to head The W's music therapy program after a nationwide search.
MUW is one of a limited number of universities in the country and the only public institution in Mississippi to offer the program, which consists of coursework and an internship of six to nine months. Students completing the program will be eligible to sit for the national board certification exam in music therapy.
The program will integrate students into the community and offer opportunities for hands-on experiences in a diverse number of settings such as schools, nursing homes and hospitals.
“The music therapist serves a very large and diverse population. Music therapy has applications in many treatment programs, serving a cross section of people," Cole said.
MUW has begun the certification process with the American Music Therapy Association and the National Association for Schools of Music. The AMTA, which promotes “research exploring the benefits of music as therapy,” was founded in 1998 as a union of the National Association for Music Therapy and the American Association for Music Therapy.
In October, Cole, a masters level board certified music therapist, will make two presentations at the AMTA national conference in Atlanta. Before coming to The W, Cole had a private practice in Michigan.
Dr. Michael Garrett, head of the Division of Fine and Performing Arts, said, “The new music therapy major is just the kind of program that we at The W should be doing. The field of music therapy has been growing because of the increasing recognition of its importance in improving the quality of life …from those with mental or physical disabilities to terminally ill clients helped by the solace that music can provide.”
The 20th century application of music to the healing process began after World War I when musicians of all types played at Veteran hospitals around the country and medical professionals noted the positive response to the music from patients, according to the AMTA. The first music therapy program began in 1944 at Michigan State University.
“The future of music therapy is promising because of the state of the art music therapy research in physical rehabilitation, Alzheimer’s disease, and psychoneuroimmunology is documenting the effectiveness of music therapy in terms that are important in the context of a biological medical model,” according to the AMTA.
Freshman Rachel Delk, who is enrolled in the new program, said, “I have always wanted to major in music, but I didn’t want to teach, I wanted to play the music.”
Delk, who plays piano, guitar, clarinet, mallets and sings, felt that “performance never offered the security” she desired.
“So, when I heard about the music therapy program, I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. My dream is to move to Memphis and work at St. Jude.”
According to Cole, who sings as well as plays the violin, guitar and piano, “There is not just one particular style of music used in music therapy. All styles of music can be useful.”
This fall MUW will offer two courses: MUS151 Introduction to Music Therapy, open to music therapy majors who have passed the program’s entrance criteria and MUS255 Psychology of Music, which is open to general population.
Cole believes MUS255 would benefit students in various disciplines.
“We will discuss the connection between music and the emotions and examine how and why we react to different music in different manners.”
For additional information about the music therapy program, contact Cole at (662) 329-7341or visit the web page at www.muw.edu/fine_arts/MusicTherapy.htm.
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