UK music therapy program hums with excitement

“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.” -William Congreve

Every so often, one finds a marvelous and unique program amid the throng of health-care offerings in university settings. The rare gems that shine not only for their effectiveness, but for their diversity, deserve as much appreciation and applause as possible.

One such diamond that shines not only for its effectiveness, but also for its diversity, is the music therapy program, headed up by Lori Gooding on the University of Kentucky campus. This program, which Gooding began in July 2010, is housed in the School of Fine Arts’ Department of Music and cooperates with UK Health Care. Part of the Lucille Caudill Little Performing Arts in Health Care Fund, the program offers a master’s degree of music (M.M.) in music therapy and currently guides 11 graduate students in this unique discipline.

“The program is roughly three years in duration,” Gooding said, “with 2013 seeing some of our first graduates. We have 11 now, and the cap is 15.”

The program jumped major hurdles to receive the status required to offer such a degree at UK, Gooding said.

“Aside from the accreditation all UK programs have to go through, we also had to be approved by the American Music Therapy Association as well as the National Association of Schools of Music,” Gooding said.

Gooding is no stranger to the intricate maze known as academia, having served as assistant professor of music therapy at Charleston Southern University and as a teaching assistant at Florida State University, where she completed her Ph.D. The gathering momentum of UK’s School of Music in recent years made her program a natural, cutting-edge fit.

Much of the content in Gooding’s doctoral dissertation found its way into studies that looked at several music therapy-related interventions and their effects on improving social and behavioral skills in children and adolescents whose abilities in these areas were below par. It was not long after the program started that Gooding realized the need for more people skilled in the discipline.

“Olivia Yinger also works with me, and we just hired our first full-time clinician. The plan is to expand the master’s [program] into a Ph.D program and continue to increase the awareness in the community for much of this research,” Gooding said. With more student interest and awareness, it seems this will be a future likelihood.

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