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Music and Your Mentality: The History of Music Therapy

Happy Monday! In this blog post from our Music and Your Mentality series, we will be discussing the history of music therapy, which dates back to Ancient Greece.

Music plays a significant part in allowing human beings to express themselves. Experts have found instruments from over 40,000 years ago, showing the value of music as a form of communication. By the 1800s, research into the therapeutic nature and medical use of music grew. The earliest reference to music therapy appeared in a February 1789 article in the Columbian Magazine called "Music physically considered."


In the 20th century, music therapy grew as a profession for musicians to play for thousands of veterans suffering in hospitals from the events of World War I and World War II. The relief of physical and emotional trauma from music sparked the demand for hired musicians trained by a college curriculum. Universities began offering music therapy programs by the 1940s, as E. Thayer Gaston (the "father of music therapy") promoted the practice in an organizational and educational standpoint.


The first music therapy college training programs were created, with Michigan State University establishing the first music therapy academic program in 1944. The University of Kansas, Chicago Musical College, College of the Pacific, and Alverno College followed suit afterwards.


Now, there are many music therapy associations around the world, like the American Music Therapy Association and National Association for Music Therapy. Music therapists can be found working in private care, education, and social care.


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