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I'm a junior living in Texas. I want to pursue a career in music therapy but I don't really know where start regarding what classes to take starting from now, what the actual major is called, or what colleges are best for me, in the area preferably.

I can't talk to my parents about this because they don't care about my academic life, and they don't know much about anything anyways. And the adults at my school are always too busy to sit down with you and have one on one talks about your future. I have tried to make appointments with my counselor but she never has time. All the counselors, and any other teacher, administrator, adult, etc. is always too preoccupied with dealing with the misbehavior and poor attendance in my school, they really don't pay much attention to those who they see can generally take care of themselves. So I really have nowhere to go for information.

I've tried looking online but I can't really find anything I really understand, or that feels personal. I'm the type who learns better through questions. So if anyone could help me out, or atleast point me in the right direction, I'd really appreciate it!

  • Have you made an appointment with your high school counselor or advisor? That’s the usually way to get one-on-one advice for this sort of thing in US high schools, if the system at your school is not dysfunctional. – Bradd Szonye Mar 3 '15 at 3:54
  • @BraddSzonye Yes, I have tried to make appointments with my counselor but she never has time. All the counselors, and any other teacher, administrator, adult, etc. is always too preoccupied with dealing with the misbehavior and poor attendance in my school, they really don't pay much attention to those who they see can generally take care of themselves. But thank you for the suggestion. – Dreamsup Mar 3 '15 at 3:58
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    OK, that’s important information to help in answering your question, because “talk to your counselor” is the most straightforward answer. It sounds like your school is not prepared to help students prepare for college. In that case, you may want to seek help at a nearby community college, as they should definitely have programs to help students transfer into more advanced schools. I’m sorry I don’t have more specific advice for you than that. – Bradd Szonye Mar 3 '15 at 4:08
  • @BraddSzonye No worries! It's more help than I've gotten from anyone else. Thankyou for your time. – Dreamsup Mar 3 '15 at 4:11
  • FYI, this might end up being off-topic, because I suspect that you need a lot of help that is beyond the scope of music education. But I hope you get the help that you need. Start with people you trust, and if that doesn’t work, go directly to the local colleges and see who wants to help you. By the way, you’re right that you need personal help with this – college admissions are tough. The most helpful thing is to find an adult who will help you. – Bradd Szonye Mar 3 '15 at 4:27
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The actual major is called Music Therapy. It is very real. I must say, it is not as common as other music majors, such as education, theory / composition, musical theatre, jazz, or performance, but it is steadily gaining traction. If you can play an instrument, you can be a music therapist. From what I've seen they are usually pianists or guitarists, but I'm sure any instrument is fine. If you aren't able to find the therapy program you want or are unwilling to travel out of state, you could always start your undergrad as a BA in Music and create your own concentration or minor.

At the high school level, you can't do any wrong by taking as many music classes as you can. It also wouldn't hurt to volunteer at hospitals or retirement homes. Once you get to a college or university with a music therapy program, they'll have course plans all laid out for you to follow, so don't worry about that.

Here is a link to 60 colleges / universities that offer Music Therapy degrees:

https://www.cappex.com/colleges/majors/Music-TherapyTherapist-1009

Here are some tips on how to determine if a particular university / program is right for you:

http://majoringinmusic.com/music-majors-how-to-choose-a-music-therapy-program/

Here is another resource that should provide you a lot of support, the American Music Therapy Association:

http://www.musictherapy.org/

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High schools with a decent college-bound program usually make a point of laying this all out for you, walking you through all of the steps. It sounds like your high school is not one of those. Still, there may be somebody in the counseling or teaching staff who could help you out. Try talking to the teacher you have the best relationship with. Or see if there is a formal way to schedule an appointment with your counselor.

If that doesn’t work out, reach out to a nearby community college. If your high school really isn’t equipped to help out college-bound students, the community college might be – and they might already be aware that students from your school need extra help. One of the main functions of a community college is to prepare students for university if their high schools didn’t, so even if you can’t get what you need now, the local college can help you get there in the long run. Call their admissions office and see if there is a counselor or admissions officer you can talk about your plans with. If there is more than one, call around and see who’s the most helpful.

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There is certain character traits you are going to need to be able to do this line of work. You are going to be a mental health practitioner so you need to be sure you are going to be OK with all the problems and baggage associated with it. You are going to be working with the mentally ill. This can be a very rewarding career but it can also be shocking at times. Be prepared for that.

As far as I know the programs are usually pretty hard to get into so be willing to do at least and undergraduate degree in Psychology if you do not get in. I know the Uni where I lives only consider you for admittance if you have done a certain number of general psychology subjects.To me at as a young 18 year old it is better to get into a program and get some knowledge under your belt and now wait until the good program one day decides to grant you permission. Also much better than having to settle for the program you where not really hoping for.

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