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Music Therapy

Music therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. (American Music Therapy Association definition, 2005)

Meet the Team

Crystal Weaver Offering Music Therapy at the Saint Louis University Cancer CenterCrystal Weaver, CRC, MT-BC

Crystal Weaver is a board-certified music therapist and a certified rehabilitation counselor. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in music therapy in 2004 and graduated with a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling in 2010 from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri. During her time at Maryville University, Crystal was presented with the Leadership in Music Therapy Award from the Music Therapy Program and the Faculty Award for Excellence from the Rehabilitation Counseling Program. From 2009 to 2010, Crystal was the graduate assistant for the Rehabilitation Counseling Program.

In 2004, Crystal completed a National Roster Internship at Hospice of Palm Beach County in West Palm Beach, Florida. Later that same year, she accepted a full-time music therapy position at BJC Hospice in St. Louis, Missouri. During her time at BJC Hospice, Crystal was a part of the Missouri Baptist Hospital Speaker's Bureau and was a member of the Quality Assurance Performance Improvement Committee. In 2010, Crystal was named Employee of the Year at BJC Hospice.

In 2011, Crystal accepted a music therapy position at the St. Louis University Cancer Center. This position focuses on conducting music therapy based research studies and providing music therapy services to patients diagnosed with cancer. Crystal is also responsible for fostering community partnerships with the St. Louis Symphony and the Saint Louis University School of Fine and Performing Arts.

In addition to her responsibilities at the St. Louis University Cancer Center, Crystal is a site supervisor for music therapy internship students and is an adjunct faculty member at Maryville University and the Saint Louis University School of Fine and Performing Arts.

Andrew Dwiggins Offering Music Therapy at the Saint Louis University Cancer CenterAndrew Dwiggins

Andrew Dwiggins is a music therapist at the Saint Louis University Cancer Center. He graduated from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri, with a bachelor's degree in music therapy in July 2013. After completing a music therapy internship, Andrew was hired as a full-time music therapist at the Saint Louis University Cancer Center. At the Cancer Center, Andrew is responsible for conducting music therapy sessions and assisting Crystal Weaver with music therapy research studies.

Before pursuing a career in music therapy, Andrew was a professional musician. His band, Greenwheel, was signed to Island Records from 2000-2006. Andrew composed the song Breathe which was recorded by Melissa Etheridge for her 2004 album, Lucky. In 2005, Melissa Etheridge received a Grammy nomination for the song composed by Andrew Dwiggins in the category of Best Rock Solo Vocal Performance.

What do music therapists do?
Music therapists assess emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills through musical responses; design music sessions for individuals and groups based on client needs using music improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, music performance, and learning through music; participate in interdisciplinary treatment planning, ongoing evaluation, and follow up.
Who can benefit from music therapy?
Children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly with mental health needs, developmental and learning disabilities, Alzheimer's disease and other aging-related conditions, substance abuse problems, brain injuries, physical disabilities, and acute and chronic pain, including mothers in labor.
Where do music therapists work?
Music therapists work in psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, medical hospitals, outpatient clinics, day care treatment centers, agencies serving developmentally disabled persons, community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, and private practice.
What is the history of music therapy as a health care profession?
The idea of music as a healing influence which could affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. The 20th Century discipline began after World War I and World War II when community musicians of all types, both amateur and professional, went to Veterans hospitals around the country to play for the thousands of veterans suffering both physical and emotional trauma from the wars. The patients' notable physical and emotional responses to music led the doctors and nurses to request the hiring of musicians by the hospitals. It was soon evident that the hospital musicians needed some prior training before entering the facility and so the demand grew for a college curriculum. The first music therapy degree program in the world, founded at Michigan State University in 1944, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1994. The American Music Therapy Association was founded in 1998 as a union of the National Association for Music Therapy and the American Association for Music therapy.
Who is qualified to practice music therapy?
Persons who complete one of the approved college music therapy curricula (including an internship) are then eligible to sit for the national examination offered by the Certification Board for Music Therapists. Music therapists who successfully complete the independently administered examination hold the music therapist-board certified credential (MT-BC).
Is there research to support music therapy?
The American Music Therapy Association promotes a vast amount of research exploring the benefits of music as therapy through publication of the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives and other sources. A substantial body of literature exists to support the effectiveness of music therapy.
How is music therapy utilized in hospitals?
Music is used in general hospitals to: alleviate pain in conjunction with anesthesia or pain medication; elevate patients' mood and counteract depression; promote movement for physical rehabilitation; calm or sedate, often to induce sleep; counteract apprehension or fear; and lessen muscle tension for the purpose of relaxation, including the autonomic nervous system.
What are some misconceptions about music therapy?
That the client or patient has to have some particular music ability to benefit from music therapy — they do not. That there is one particular style of music that is more therapeutic than all the rest — this is not the case. All styles of music can be useful in affecting change in a client or patient's life. The individual's preferences, circumstances and need for treatment, and the client or patient's goals help to determine the types of music a music therapist may use.
What is the American Music Therapy Association?
The American Music Therapy Association is the largest professional association which represents over 5,000 music therapists, corporate members and related associations worldwide. Founded in 1998, its mission is the progressive development of the therapeutic use of music in rehabilitation, special education, and community settings. AMTA sets the education and clinical training standards for music therapists. Predecessors to the American Music Therapy Association included the National Association for Music Therapy founded in 1950 and the American Association for Music Therapy founded in 1971.
How can I learn more about music therapy?
Visit the American Music Therapy Association website at
How can I learn more about the SLU Cancer Center's Music Therapy Program?
Crystal Weaver, CRC, MT-BC
Senior Music Therapist
SLU Cancer Center
3655 Vista Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110

Additional Information

See SLU Music Therapy in St. Louis Magazine