top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarla Tanguay, MA, MT-BC

Music Therapy Across the Lifespan

My youngest client is one year old. The oldest client I ever worked with was 106! People often ask me, “How can you work with such a wide range of ages?”

One of the things that I love about music therapy is that music really is universal. Everyone, no matter what age or what ability level, can relate to and respond to music in some way. A music therapist uses the adaptable nature of music to create experiences with clients that recognize their age, ability, and culture, while helping them discover new ways of thriving in the world.

From infancy to old age, human beings enjoy and participate in music. All cultures sing to and rock their newborn babies. Children use music to explore language, sensorimotor skills, and social skills. Teenagers are drawn to music as a part of establishing their identity and culture, and adults often use music to express their faith, deepen social connections, and find enjoyment. 

Music therapists work with populations and clients across the lifespan, combining expertise in the functions and elements of music with an understanding of developmental, educational, health, and psychological needs. There are currently over 7,000 credentialed music therapists in the United States, working in settings ranging from Neonatal Intensive Care Units, Early Intervention Programs, & Primary Schools, to Adolescent Treatment Centers, Hospitals, Mental Health Clinics, & Inpatient Programs, to VA Centers, Nursing Facilities, & Hospices.

What does a music therapist do?

Music therapists use music as a tool to work on goals and challenges not related to music. We apply knowledge and research about how music effects our bodies, brains, and emotions and use this understanding to develop and apply techniques that help people of all ages reach health, educational, and wellness related goals. The use of music can range from passive listening experiences to making music together with clients. 

How is music therapy used across the lifespan?


  • Prenatal music therapy promotes bonding between mother and baby and teaches techniques to reduce anxiety and stress.

  • Music therapy improves breathing, weight gain, and heart rates of premature babies.

  • Music therapists support the physical and emotional needs of parents during labor and delivery.   


  • Music therapy helps kids meet developmental and academic goals through the fun and motivating nature of music.

  • Music therapy significantly reduces pain and anxiety during medical and dental procedures.

  • Music therapists partner with parents, teachers, IEP teams, SLP’s, PT’s, & OT’s on the same goals.

  • Music therapy can facilitate positive changes in mood, self-esteem, and emotional states in teens.


  • Music therapy improves physical and psychological outcomes in people with serious illnesses.

  • Music therapy can improve communication, mood, and motor skills in people with Traumatic Brain Injury.

  • The emotional, expressive nature of music can be a bridge to self-awareness, insight, and recovery.

  • Music therapy can promote positive parenting and improve parent/child interactions.

Seniors/End of Life

  • Music therapy reduces pain and anxiety in patients receiving palliative care.

  • Music therapists work as part of the healthcare team to address measurable goals and reduce symptoms. 

  • Music therapy significantly reduces depression in people with Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • People with Parkinson’s Disease and stroke demonstrate improved gait, speech, and quality of life.

Do you have a question about an age or population that music therapists might work with? Contact us today!

Recent Posts

See All


Love our blog? Subscribe to our mailing list
and never miss an update!

bottom of page