About the Music Therapy Programme

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Music Therapy Master's Degree Programme is one of the two Master's Degree Programmes within the Music Psychology Training.

The programme aims to acquaint you with the main areas of contemporary music therapy and music psychotherapy research, theory and clinical practice - in particular on psychiatric and neurological perspectives - familiarize you strategies, methods and equipments used in different clinical research designs, provide you with skills needed for designing, executing and reporting investigations, and supply you with the knowledge and skills needed for PhD studies.

The next intake of students will be in September 2016. More information about application and instructions for applying can be found here.

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Upcoming Events in the Music Therapy Unit

Information about new, exciting events - coming up in Musica Building - will be added soon!

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Past Events in the Music Therapy Unit

  • "Shall we let the music out?"
The last music therapy student led seminar was held on May 5th, 2014 in Musica, Seminaarinmäki. The seminar, called "Shall we let the music out?" was the third in a series of seminars which have been organised by the students of the Master's Programme in order to create more awareness of the activities of the Music Therapy unit as well as the benefits of music therapy in general. Participants learned about music therapy and enjoyed a wonderful, interactive afternoon of music making, discussions and more.


Seminar's poster

  • Introduction to music therapy

The Introduction to Music Therapy Seminar for Faculty and Staff of the University on November 4th proved to be a very successful endeavour for the Music Therapy Master's students. Attendees included faculty and staff members from departments such as Music, Psychology, Eino Roiha Institute, Languages among others.

Presentations/Workshops included Music Therapy (MT) with Healthy Adults, MT and Kangaroo Care, MT with Disabled Adults, MT and Song-Composing and MT with Depressed Adolescents. Another seminar for the general public is planned to take place in the Spring Semester, 2014.

For more photos from the day, check out the Music Therapy Master's Programme Facebook page.

Seminar's leaflet

Presenters and organisation committee of the seminar with Assoc. Professor Esa Ala-Ruona

MT Master's student RoseAnna van Beek introduces the topics of the day

A snapshot from the presentation

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Music Therapy Studies in the MT-programme


The University of Jyväskylä is home to the only University Chair in music therapy in Finland. The staff consists of a professor, an associate professor, and an university teacher. In addition to master’s training, we have about ten doctoral students. Our programme has good international contacts, for instance with the Music Therapy doctoral training programme in Aalborg, Denmark. Our basic approach is that of music psychotherapy – to be precise, psychodynamic music psychotherapy. However, our students may have other kinds of backgrounds, meaning that in practice, our focus can be said to be quite eclectic. Our curriculum consists of theory and research subjects, personal development and clinical training. We have a well-equipped music therapy training and research clinic that we are very proud of. The master’s level training prepares students for academic as well as clinical postgraduate studies. It also provides additional qualification, thus improving the students' employment opportunities. Finnish music therapists work either as private practitioners (e.g. for the Social Insurance Institution of Finland) or in various institutions, such as hospitals and developmental disability institutions.

Curriculum 2012-2014 (pdf)


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Aims of the Course

Language: English

After completing the Music Therapy Master Programme the student will have attained an understanding of the essence of music therapy and music psychotherapy from both a theoretical and clinical point of view. The course is split between practical – clinical training - and theoretical courses, such as Music Therapy in Medicine and as Rehabilitation. The course enables the student to get a broad sense of what working in collaboration with interdisciplinary teams can be like as well as the skills to design, conduct and report on research relevant to the field of music therapy. The course equips the student with the building blocks to advance to PhD studies. Socially, the course offers a wonderful opportunity to work with those from all around the world and opens the platform for interesting discussions and debates.

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What Does It Cost?

The course itself is free of charge. There may be scholarships or funding available from your home country. Accommodation and living expenses vary depending on the individual.

For more information on studying in Finland, follow this link.

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Facilities Available in the Music Department

The music department, where the music therapy programme is taught, has a wide variety of facilities available. These include:

  • Two state-of-the-art music therapy clinics for research and training, equipped with recording equipment, electronic and acoustic instruments, VAT chairs
  • Motion-capture laboratory, which has been used in recent years for research in the Centre of Excellence concerning Music and Emotion
  • Recording studio
  • Practice rooms, equipped with pianos
  • Computer laboratory: the music department uses mainly Apple computers and this facility also provides music editing equipment and midi keyboards
  • Band rehearsal room: acoustic and electric instruments

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    Music Therapy Research

    Teija rummuissa

    As a relatively young discipline, in close connection to the traditional health care professions, there are many prerequisites and requirements for music therapy research. First, we have to carry out research associated with the improvement of everyday clinical practices of various diagnostic groups. Secondly, we have to carry out research on the remedial and specific effects of music therapy. The following themes can be distinguished in our research: theoretical research, research on clinical assessment and evaluation, process-orientated clinical research, and research on clinical improvisation. Currently we run also research on the efficacy and effectiveness of music therapy. We have been, or are currently, part of the following funded research projects: Intelligent Music Systems in Music Therapy (2003-2006, Academy of Finland: code 102253); Tuning the Brain for Music (2006-2009, EU 6th framework); Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research (2008-2013, Academy of Finland). The research strategies utilized are both qualitative (e.g. clinical processes) and quantitative (e.g. research on improvisation). Our ongoing projects on Music Therapy for Depression, and on Active Music Therapy for Post-Stroke Recovery are based on multidisciplinary collaboration and international research networks.

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    Music Therapy Clinic for Research and Training

    The Music Therapy Clinic for Research and Training participates in training and teaching students in master's programmes, postgraduate studies and further education programmes. The clinic offers students the chance to gain first-hand experience of working with real clients in a typical clinical setting. The students’ sessions are recorded and they are observed during their training which enables a much deeper learning and critique and is used as a tool for professional growth and development. After the internships (I: 12 sessions, II: 20 sessions- not observed), the student is able to understand the possibilities of clinical methods of music psychotherapy, formulate goals of a therapeutic process and analyse and assess what happens in therapy. Supervision sessions and post-session group discussions allow for a deeper understanding of the therapeutic process and an opportunity to examine methods and tools of therapy in action.The Music Therapy Clinic is also the clinical unit for an intensive period of internship for the music therapy students from the Eino Roiha Institute.

    The Clinic organises and offers music therapy services within training and research projects. Combined training and research activities produce scientific and applied knowledge related to music therapy and music psychotherapy methods, clinical processes and theoretical issues.

    The Music Therapy Clinic for Research and Training is located on the ground floor of the Department of Music's building (M). The Clinic is well equipped and offers up-to-date facilities for conducting versatile therapy, training and research activities. The clinic operates in collaboration with a wide network of social and health institutions, therapists, researchers and training units. This network brings together local, national and international professionals in the field.

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    Centre of Excellence in Music Research 2008-2013

    Cutting-edge research has been taking place at the music department at the University of Jyväskylä and the title of Centre of Excellence in Music Research awarded in 2008 was an award recognising of the high standards of research which take place here. During this time, interdisciplinary projects have been centred on Music Cognition, Music Motorics and Music and Emotions.

    Information on the various types of research conducted at the University of Jyväskylä during the period 2008-2013 can be found here.

    More research at the department includes topics such as:

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    Testimonials and Biographies

    Jaakko Erkkilä, Finland

    PhD, Music Therapist, Psychotherapist

    Jaakko is the director of the Music Therapy master’s programme at University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and Head of the Music Therapy Clinical Training at Eino Roiha Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland. He has over 20 years of clinical experience, working with adolescents and adults with psychiatric disorders, children with neurological disorders and people with developmental disorders. His primary focus is music psychotherapy in psychiatric setting, in particular clinical improvisation. Jaakko is a member of Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research, in charge of music therapy research there. He serves on the editorial boards of Nordic Journal of Music Therapy and Musiikkiterapia (Finnish music therapy journal) and is a founding member of Music and Medicine. He has published several book chapters and journal articles.



    Marko Punkanen, Finland

    PhD, Music Therapist, Dance/Movement Therapist, Trauma Psychotherapist


    Marko started his professional career as a social educator and worked in a children’s home for six years before he started his music therapy studies at the Sibelius Academy. He is currently working as a music/dance-movement/psychotherapist and supervisor in private practice and as well as a university researcher in University of Jyväskylä, Finland. At the University of Jyväskylä his responsibility is to take good care of the Music Therapy Master Program students. That is actually very nice job to do because the students are so enthusiastic and wonderful people.

    He is the director of Nyanssi Therapy Centre and a co-director of the first extensive VAT/PA training in Finland. He is also one of the founders of the VIBRAC - Skille-Lehikoinen Centre for Vibroacoustic Therapy and Research. The centre has an international advisory board that serves as a central point for networking VAT clinicians and researchers all over the world.

    From 2007 to 2011 he worked as a researcher in Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research in University of Jyväskylä. He was part of the music and emotion research team.

    “During those years [as a researcher] Jyväskylä became another hometown for me and I really like the city and its various cultural activities”.


    Hanna Hakomäki, Finland

    PhD, Music Therapist, Psychotherapist, Registered EMTC Supervisor/The European Music Therapy Confederation

    Hanna Hakomäki has just recently, spring 2013, completed her  PhD studies at the University of Jyväskylä. The journey took 10 years starting with the Music Therapy Master’s Degree Program in 2003. Her background lies in piano teaching and working as a music therapist. During her doctoral  studies at the University of Jyväskylä, she found the possibility to collaborate in multidisciplinary research clusters such as children, young people and their growth environments rewarding as well as the Multidisciplinary Doctoral Research Program in Psychotherapy. As she had not been living in Jyväskylä, but travelling back and forth by train, the size of the city had been just perfect: "everything one needs is within walking distance".


    Jaana Lehikoinen, Finland

    MA, Music Therapist, Past MT Degree Student

    Studying in the Music therapy master programme at Jyväskylä University inspired Jaana to study more about music therapy as a profession. MT training added to her interest of theoretical thinking and expanded her understanding of scientific methods. In addition to science, during her MT training she learned plenty of things which she can utilise in her clinical music therapy work. During the years the MT training has developed hugely. For instance, possibilities to take part in clinical observation and supervision of therapy work with clients offers students a unique way to develop their clinical skills as music therapists with a help of peers and supervisors.

    While she was as a student in MT training, she had a chance to receive the three months scholarship to the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine in New York. The role and support of MT training and trainers in Jyväskylä were significant. Music therapy in medicine is a new area in Finland and therefore she wrote her master thesis on that subject. Nowadays she is giving lectures at Jyväskylä University, Open University and Eino Roiha Institute about music therapy in medicine and also about the GIM method. In Eino Roiha Institute she works also as a clinical supervisor in music therapy training. In addition to her work as a trainer, she works in her private practice as a music therapist and GIM -therapist. MT training has allowed her to create the kind of career as a music therapist and a trainer that she wanted.


    Olivier Brabant, France

    MA, Past MT Degree Student, Current PhD student

    From France, to Germany, Finland, Italy and back to Finland, Olivier is a great example of the type of diverse backgrounds which one can expect to meet in this International Music Therapy Degree Programme.

    Olivier got the idea to study music therapy whilst he worked as an aid to care assistants in a nursing home for people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease in Italy.

    “What truly sets this programme apart is the group atmosphere and the closeness that develops between people. Unlike other studies where students hardly get to know each other, here you will become part of a very supportive group and share a lot with your course mates. Not only will you learn about certain academic subjects, but also (and maybe most importantly) about yourself. I found that being part of this programme was in itself very transformative”.

    Because the content is 50% theory and research, and 50% clinical work, every student needs to decide which path to pursue after the master. Olivier decided to stay at the University of Jyväskylä and start a PhD on a topic related to music therapy. Even though he has opted for doctoral studies now, the option to become a fully-qualified music therapist will always remain open.


    RoseAnna van Beek, The Netherlands

    MA, Music Therapist, Past MT Degree Student

    During her Music Therapy BA in Amersfoort, in the Netherlands, she did an exchange for one semester to Jyväskylä. “It was a great experience. The friendly atmosphere, the many international students and the clinical focus of the Music Therapy MA program were what I was looking for as an extension to my BA”. She therefore decided to come back to do her MA here.

    “The first year has already gone by (it went so fast!) and I'm still very happy here. I've learnt a lot from observing and participating in the clinical training and supervision, the research methodology courses and the workshops. My class is a nice mixture of international and local people and because of the intensity of the program, I've become very close to all of them”.

    Apart from the positive academic experience of studying in Finland, Jyväskylä is also a lovely place to live - the feel of a small town, but with all the amenities one would ever need. Affordable student housing, lots of great (also second hand) shops, nice places to eat or have a cup of tea and cheap, healthy lunches for students. Both in winter and in summer time, there are many fun things to do; snowboarding, canoeing, swimming, sitting around a campfire and, of course, going to a sauna.


    Erica Eckhaus, USA

    MA, Music Therapist, Past MT Degree Student


    Educated as a music therapist at Temple University, Philidelphia, PA, Erica has found the diversity at the University of Jyväskylä exciting and enlightening.  She has found that the more holistic approach to learning – from the audio/visual content recorded from live therapy sessions from consenting clients – has helped her to gain an outsider’s perspective.

    When applying to the University of Jyväskylä, I did not know what to expect.  However, after being in Finland this year, all of my expectations and possible concerns have been surpassed”.

    The University of Jyväskylä’s Music Therapy Programme is a place to consider applying to if interested in research. Prior to attending the University of Jyväskylä, Erica’s knowledge regarding research was minimal. However the course professors encourage all students to begin immediately contemplating potential ideas for theses research. This academic year she also gained an understanding concerning research in theoretical terms as well as in its practical uses in statistical programs.

    This program provides the most unique learning experience.  Erica learned a great deal from a practical and theoretical point of view, but also from being in a class with people who come from all over the world. Erica regards her experience in Jyväskylä as a valuable opportunity to learn music therapy from an international perspective and explains that it has strengthened her beliefs and confirmed that she made the right choice in coming to Finland.

    “Since studying at the University of Jyväskylä I have realized that although music therapy holds different meanings, approaches, and techniques in every country, we are all in it together for the same reason- to help people with the use of music".


    Esa Ala-Ruona, Finland

    PhD, Music Therapist, Psychotherapist

    Esa works as an associate professor and university researcher at the Music Therapy Clinic for Research and Training, at the University of Jyväskylä. He has studied clinical music therapy in Sibelius-Academy and completed his MA (2002), MPhil (2004), and PhD (2007) in the University of Jyväskylä. Currently he is a lecturer, clinical teacher and supervisor, and he coordinates the International Master's Degree Programme in Music Therapy. He has more than 25 years of experience in working within psychiatry and neurology, and also has been working with patients with acute and chronic pain and psychosomatic symptoms.

    He has been actively involved with the process of professionalization of music therapists and the development of music therapy training. His research interests are in studying musical interaction and clinical processes in improvisational psychodynamic music therapy, and the progress and outcomes of rehabilitation of stroke patients in active music therapy. He is the past chair of the Finnish Society for Music Therapy, and the past chair of the Association of Professional Music Therapists in Finland. He is the country representative in European Music Therapy Confederation (EMTC) and representative of University of Jyväskylä in European Consortium of Arts Therapy Education (ECArTE).

    Esa is the editor-in-chief of Finnish Journal of Music Therapy, and co-editor of a number of publications. He is also the co-founder of the Skille-Lehikoinen VIBRAC-Centre and the first extensive training on Vibroacoustic therapy (VAT) in Finland, and he has been developing and studying the possibilities of VAT in specialized health care. He regularly gives lectures and workshops on music therapy both nationally and internationally.

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