Axon Music Therapy defines music therapy as...

The use of music, instruments and interventions by an accredited music therapist to work towards musical and non-musical goals within a treatment setting and timeline that benefits the client's health and well-being.

The Canadian Association of Music Therapy defines music therapy as...

Music therapy is the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self-expression, communication, and personal development.
(Canadian Association for Music Therapy / Association de Musicothérapie du Canada Annual General Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia, May 6, 1994)

The Australian Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as...

Music therapy is a research-based practice and profession in which music is used to actively support people as they strive to improve their health, functioning and wellbeing. Music therapy is the intentional use of music by a university trained professional. Registered music therapists draw on an extensive body of research and are bound by a code of ethics that informs their practice.

Music therapists incorporate a range of music making methods within and through a therapeutic relationship. They are employed in a variety of sectors including health, community, aged care, disability, early childhood, and private practice.  Music therapy is different from music education and entertainment as it focuses on health, functioning and wellbeing. Music therapists are committed to supporting people of any age and ability regardless of musical skill, culture or background.​

(Australian Music Therapy Association, 2012)

Noteworthy but NOT Music Therapy

​ A person with dementia listening to an iPod of their favourite old songs

♪ Groups such as bedside musicians, musicians on call and sound healers

♪ Nurses playing background music for patients 

♪ Arts Educators 

♪ A high school student playing guitar in a nursing home 

♪ A choir singing in a hospital 

♪ A performer singing familiar songs for people with dementia