• Julie Martin

Types of Music Therapy Interventions

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

When I am asked about Music Therapy, I sometimes give examples, based on what I know about the listener, of specific music interventions that I use. This is often a short list, because Music Therapy work is so broad, it would bore my listener for me to excitedly list the many ways I have used music. It is also a short list I give, because music interventions are tailored to each of my clients, even though there may be common songs, presentations of the music, and goals.

With all the varieties of music, applications, and outcomes Music Therapists work with, there is a nice way to organize the types of interventions we use. Let's take a look.


Receptive means listening to music, and can include listening for relaxation; listening for rhythms, instruments, and lyrics that resonate with how we feel; listening to let the music guide drawing or movement; and listening to activate memories, stimulate conversation, or learning.

Try it: listen to a favorite song from your late teen years and pay close attention to the emotions you feel and the memories you have.


Recreative is playing or singing a song or a piece of music that someone else wrote. Recreating music shares our feelings and experiences with others, helps us breathe more deeply, creates a connection with others we are re-creating with, feels like "play," and facilitates recovery of speech and language, to name a few applications.

Try it: Sing a slow song that you know (you can sing along with a recording) and observe how you breathe, how your body feels, and what happens in your mind.


This is all about writing new music, new songs or new versions of familiar music and songs. Music Therapy sessions using composition give clients new ways of expressing feelings and thoughts.

Try it: Start by borrowing the tune from a song you know and creating new lyrics about a person, an experience, or dream that means a lot to you.


Creating rhythms, melodies, harmonies, lyrics, movements or any combination of these elements in the moment is improvisation. The therapist and the client may create this music together, in a conversational style, or the client may make the music alone. If the client prefers to create movements, the therapist can make the music based on the clients actions to give the client support and structure. Improvisational musicking may be in reference to an idea, concept, experience, or person/place/thing or it may be played with no particular reference. Clients may use percussion or melodic instruments, make rhythms with the body (such as clapping), or use their voices. The skill of the Music Therapist in setting up the improvisational intervention ensures the client will have both a successful and meaningful musicking experience.

Try it: Place one hand on your heart and feel your pulse. Take a couple of slow, full breaths. With the other hand, create a rhythm using snaps, pats, taps, or other sounds. Just let the music flow. When it feels like you are done, reflect on what you experienced. Did any feelings, thoughts, or ideas come up? Did you feel like you released any tension in your mind or body? Did you feel like you connected to something important?

If you want to find out more about how Music Therapy can benefit you or someone you care for, click on the contact page. I am always happy to answer your questions.

32 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All