Mastering Music Therapy
As Alverno marks the 70th anniversary of its pioneering music therapy program this fall, the College is also launching Wisconsin’s first master’s program in music therapy. To implement and direct the program, Alverno brought in Rebecca “Becky” Engen, PhD, a highly experienced music therapy clinician and educator who joined Alverno from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C.
“Many things aligned,” says Engen of her reasons for making the move. She and her husband had been considering a relocation closer to family in the Midwest when she got the word that Queens would not be pursuing the graduate-level music therapy program she had proposed. Soon after that, Engen was able to talk with Leslie Henry, Alverno’s director of music therapy, about the College’s proposed graduate program when they connected at the American Music Therapy Association’s annual conference.
“Leslie asked me what I still wanted to accomplish at my previous institution, and it stumped me,” Engen says. “Everything on my goal list was already either done or in process, except the master’s degree.”
Engen recognized, too, that the curriculum and ideals of the Alverno Master of Music Therapy reflected her own vision of what continuing music education should provide: “specialized training with a focus on meeting the educational needs of practicing clinicians who may or may not have designs on a career in academia or research.”
She believes that it’s wise to offer the program, which is open to women and men, in a distance-learning format. Online education is “necessary and exciting,” Engen says. “There is a niche market out there. Practicing clinicians who would not be able to relocate and do not want to walk away from their current employment will do well with us.”
With more than a decade of full-time clinical practice and two more decades as an educator under her belt, Engen is particularly suited to work with advanced students.
“Becky brings an exciting combination of knowledge and experience,” says Henry. “She is a seasoned educator with industry connections in medical music therapy and voice health. Also, she co-chairs the industry’s national committee to ensure academic program quality, so our master’s program courses will be deeply connected to advanced competencies in music therapy.”
Master of Music Therapy Program Details
What it is: A Master of Music Therapy is the most specialized degree available in the music therapy profession, designed for practicing therapists who want maximize their career potential.
What it isn’t: a Master of Art in Music Therapy, which is less specialized.
Why it’s special: Not only is it Wisconsin’s first and only Master of Music Therapy, but it builds upon one of the country’s longest-running undergraduate Music Therapy programs. Alverno’s program is celebrating its 70th anniversary.
How it works: Open to women and men, Master of Music Therapy students will complete 36 credits in a distance-learning format. While most classes will be online, students will visit campus for one week each summer for face-to-face learning and engagement.
Timeframe: While students may attend part-time, the program can be completed in two years with full-time attendance.
Why now: There is a significant need for music therapists in health care settings, schools, social service agencies and senior living facilities.