Music has been used to heal people in the United States since the early 1900s and continues to be a useful method of aiding a patient's road to recovery.
Eastern Michigan University was one of the first in the country to create a program of study dedicated to providing physical and psychiatric therapy to patients through exposure to music and teaching the patient how to play instruments, with early templates for teaching a music therapy course originating in 1975. Michael McGuire came to EMU to lead the program in 1982 and remained as director for thirty years, collaborating with full-time faculty including Dr. Merrill, and part-time faculty member Professor Justice and others in establishing one of the finest musical therapy programs in the country. Working alongside University of Michigan hospitals, students of the program gained valuable real-world experience in using music to improve the patient's motor skills and mental functions.
In 2008, the Music Therapy Center at EMU began accepting clients from Ypsilanti and the Ann Arbor community so students could work with local residents in sessions of creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music according to their needs. The continued work of the Center and the Music Therapy Center is a testament to the passion the students and faculty have to use their artistic abilities to transform the lives of others, both emotionally and physically.