News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

Music therapy to offer graduate program in fall 2005

By Sharon Feder ('06)

The Music Therapy Program in the Department of Music at New Paltz is about to undergo an enormous change -- it will be adding a graduate program.


Shaundra Mccarter (with guitar) and a group of music therapy students from SUNY New Paltz lead a sing-along with residents of the Mountain View Nursing and Rehab Center on Jansen Road in New Paltz. The group visits the center every Friday to perform and conduct music therapy for the residents.

The program, which now offers a fouryear undergraduate degree, hopes to offer the graduate program starting in the fall of 2005. Dr. Russell Hilliard, director of the Music Therapy Program, said that the addition of the graduate program is a result of new legislation requiring that all certified music therapists hold both a bachelor's and a master's degree in the field.

"It's exciting because we'll be able to provide more for our students and the community," said Hilliard. "SUNY New Paltz will become one of two schools in New York state to offer a graduate program in music therapy."

Music therapy is practiced using music therapeutically to address physical, psychological and social functioning in settings from day care centers to nursing homes.

According to Hilliard, the new graduate program will recognize the varied needs of its students and be "user friendly," recognizing that many students participating in the program will be professional music therapists returning to school to meet the new state standards.

There are currently about 60 music therapy majors at New Paltz, making up a little more than half of the music department. The program has two full-time professors and one adjunct. Both numbers are expected to grow with the addition of the graduate program.

Students majoring in music therapy take classes in music, science, psychology and education. Because the program has contracts with local agencies such as BOCES and Gateway Industries, students gain experience working with clients who otherwise would not be able to afford similar services. Students are also expected to complete a six-month internship in the field.

The Music Therapy Club, an active campus organization for those interested in music therapy, meets once a week, conducting one-hour music therapy sessions locally. Recently, they have volunteered on-campus at the Child Care Center, as well as at the Mountain View Nursing and Rehab Center in New Paltz.

Shaundra Mccarter, president of the Music Therapy Club, explained that a large part of what the club does is advocacy. They travel to high schools and explain what music therapy is because they have found a lot of schools don't have literature on it. What she, as well as others, have observed is that many music therapy majors have a joint love of music and helping others and stumble upon the profession.

In addition to the new graduate program, the Music Therapy Program is developing a Center for Clinical Music Therapy Research, which will allow future graduate students to conduct research in clinical music therapy for their master's theses, as well as allow faculty to routinely conduct research.

The program is also developing an Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care Music Therapy, a four-day institute that will take place on campus next summer that they plan to offer annually. The institute will train students and professional music therapists in end-of-life care music therapy. Participants will engage in didactic and experiential learning and provide music therapy sessions to local hospice patients as a part of the course.

The course will use Hilliard's new book, "Music Therapy in Hospice and Palliative Care: A Guide to Program Development and Clinical Care," which will be published in spring 2005.

For more information about the Music Therapy Program, call Dr. Hillard at x2708 or visit

DECEMBER 6, 2004
Volume 2, Issue 22

Calendar of Events

Submit Items


SUNY New Paltz News

SUNY New Paltz home

News Pulse is published every other week for the faculty and staff of SUNY New Paltz by the Office of Public Affairs. It is printed in-house on recycled paper.

To submit information to the newsletter, please complete the online submission form. If you are requesting inclusion in the next issue, your submission must be received by noon on Tuesday, Dec. 14. Contact Eric Gullickson with any questions.

Phone: 845-257-3245
Fax: 845-257-3345