3 People Who Changed Careers for Music Therapy: It’s Never Too Late

3 People Who Changed Careers for Music Therapy

People have been using music in healthcare for thousands of years. However, the profession of music therapy as we know it today is much newer. As music therapy comes more and more into the public eye, more people learn about the amazing power it can have. But what if someone learns about music therapy later in life? What if they already have a career in something else? Is it too late?

To answer your questions, we talked with three people who made the change from a different career to music therapy. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about their their amazing stories:

  • One man who decided on school instead of retirement
  • A woman who waited 25 years to become a music therapist, and
  • A woman who discovered music therapy when she was hospitalized.


Story 1: It’s Never Too Late…

Joseph Linn heard about music therapy late in life, and he had questions. WHAT in the world is this field about? WHERE do I get the education needed? WHEN will I have time to complete the academic requirements? Joe had been in music performance for over 50 years, and at his stage in life, many people are expected to “move over” and retire.

But Joe was not ready to step aside. Music had helped him get through three aggressive bio-chemotherapy in-hospital treatments for metastatic melanoma in 2006. He felt that he had been given a gift of life.



Joe with his ukulele

Of course, there were doubts. Would he be able to move into healthcare at his age? But, Joe was resolute. “I was determined to prove to myself and others that there is value, wisdom-experience, in those who are in their senior years,” said Joe. “I decided that, if possible, I might become an example to those seniors with whom I have a relationship, or, who may observe me along the journey.”

When asked what advice he would give to others, he states, “As a senior, I realized no matter one’s financial security or lack thereof, retirement without purpose, without some sort of contribution to the community… without that, one may soon say, ‘This isn’t what I was expecting.’”

At 70 years old, Joe had finished his music therapy coursework. He is now completing his music therapy internship. Way to go, Joe!


Find Joe’s advice helpful? Do you have a story of how you made the switch to music therapy? Share in the comments below! And if you are someone who’s considering music therapy as a career (or know someone who is), you’ll want to check out the 7 Mistakes Students Make When Choosing a Music Therapy School.

Until next time!


Find Part 2 here



  • Sheila says:

    Hi Hannah,
    I became a Registered Music Therapist in 1983 and quit working to raise a family before the MT-BC was offered.
    I never stopped doing music therapy in many volunteer capacities and related fields including through the developmental stages of my children’s lives. Prior to 2006, I began preparing to take the board certification exam. Once again, I worked in related fields until I could secure a music therapy position. I articulated that “out of the box” experience over 18 years on a resume that got attention. I am so thankful to Jesus for my position as a Hospice Music Therapist over the last 7 years. When I recently transferred with my husband to another city, I was able to begin working for a new branch of the same hospice company.
    The online resources like you and Matt provide help me to keep growing as a music therapist at my pace. Technology is like a foreign language to me, but I keep making the effort to learn layer by layer. What a gift!

  • Carolyn Thompson says:

    Joe is a dear friend and very admired taking on this challenge with gusto. So many wonderful experiences are ahead. His outstanding musicianship throughout his life will continue to serve him well. So proud of Joe!

  • Jeff Deutsch says:

    Hi Hannah, Thanks for sharing this inspiring story! I am a songwriter, performer, and producer. I love music and enjoy helping people! I have a BA in Music from CSULB and I graduated from the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, California. I am in my 40’s and I was recently accepted to SMWC. It was really hard to make the decision to become a MT, but I am looking forward to this Journey and finding ways to make a difference in my community!

  • Natalie Coffin says:

    Hello! Thank you for this article. I’m back to school at 41 studying MT after choosing it over law school. I’ve been a part time professional musician for years and am so happy I made the commitment to this field of study. Yay for all of us making a difference at any age!!

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