Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Olivia Yinger


Music therapists are expected to provide live music for clients with diverse preferences, yet these therapists face many barriers preventing them from recreating client-preferred music in a way that adheres to the expectations of the genre, or with “musical authenticity.” The purpose of this study was to investigate music therapists’ perceptions and practices regarding musical authenticity. Survey responses (n = 904) indicated that music therapists highly value musical authenticity, but a major theme in the qualitative data revealed they often balance its importance with other factors. Descriptive survey data and qualitative themes revealed lack of training in functional musicianship and electronic technology as major barriers to musical authenticity. A major qualitative theme regarding therapists’ practices was the use of collaboration with clients and creative solutions. Most participants indicated use of non-electronic strategies and reported they had not used electronic technology to increase musical authenticity. Descriptive survey data and qualitative themes revealed frequent and effective use of recorded music. Finally, chi-square analyses revealed significant relationships between age and use of technology and iPad and between gender and use of technology. Music therapists would benefit from additional training, more research on authenticity, and music therapy specific guidelines for using music authentically.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Included in

Music Therapy Commons