Why You Shouldn’t Advocate For Music Therapy

By January 5, 2016Advocacy

It’s social media advocacy month. I don’t know if I’d call it a pleasure to publish this article. Frankly, I don’t see eye to eye with this guest author, a music therapist by the name of Mr. G.T. Atonal. But I do think it’s important that all views have a forum.

And now, I unfortunately present to you…Advocacy stinks

Why You Shouldn’t Advocate For Music Therapy: Five Sound Reasons

by Mr. G.T. Atonal

If advocacy were a bubblegum flavor, it would be blueberry and liverwurst. Advocacy stinks, and I will tell you why. 

Reason #1: If more people know what we do, we won’t get to explain it literally thousands of times a week. Personally, I enjoy laughing at the befuddled faces of friends of friends (or complete strangers!) who have never heard of music therapy.

If it’s as well-understood as physical therapy, I won’t get to deliver my elevator speech. Which is fresh and totally engaging.


Reason #2: Higher salaries may be fixed upon us. If you’re like me, you’ve worked hard to cultivate your image as a Starving Martyst (trademark pending).

I bought my khaki pants when Clinton was in office and my wingtips are two years older than The Twitter. These fashion items have history. Do you understand how many face-melting Omnichord solos I’ve played in these duds?

The threat of appropriate, let alone adequate, compensation and the prospect of a relishable retirement would jeopardize my image, and probably yours too.

If you agree that a higher standard of living would be a bummer for us and our families, stand with me! Just say “no” to advocacy!

Reason #3: We’ll have more patients and clients to treat. As more people learn about the benefits of music therapy, naturally more people will want it. I can’t be the only one who sees the problem here…

I don’t know about y’all, but my couch is great and there are more cat videos on YouTube than awkward throat clearings at the collective performances of John Cage’s 4’33.


Here is a cat video:

In short, we must be cautious in spreading the word so as not to create too much demand. More demand means more work and more money (see argument #2).

Reason #4: We’ll experience an increase in talented and ambitious music therapy students.

Look, I hate to be the one to say it, but we need to be careful with who we let into the profession. Maybe drop a little fermata on acceptance rates and scale back a bit.

The current student population has too many ideas that threaten the status quo and they are exhibiting an alarming amount of leadership.

Getting the interest of even more talented musicians through misguided advocacy efforts could result in academic and professional absurdity.

These up-and-comers…they’re just so “techy”. Bach didn’t need an iPad. Just sayin’.

Reason #5: About state recognition. It’s, like, a lot of work. Though I try to fly under the radar, I hear about various state recognition efforts around the country. And while many have been successful, it just seems darn laborious.

I don’t want to demean the work that they’ve done, but is increased validation for our profession really worth all the wiggle?

I’ve spelled out the tummy-tingling side effects of advocacy, and state recognition might only add more kick to the burrito.

If we advocate at a grassroots level, we might inadvertently be supporting the state recognition initiative. Our talking points could fall on the wrong ears. Mark my words: someone with influence will catch wind of what these “advocateurs” are up to. Then, like a drunk conga line, each state will fall one by one and you can French kiss your cat videos adieu.

Mr. G.T. Atonal


Needless to say, Mr. Atonal’s stance is rather dissonant and is not endorsed by Music Therapy Source.

Here are some things you should do:

  1. Comment on this post if you can think of any reasons we should not advocate.
  2. Comment on this post if you have reasons we SHOULD be advocates.
  3. Click on the social media advocacy badge to see more posts about MT advocacy.

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