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James Hiller

Associate Professor; Coordinator of Undergraduate Music Therapy Program

Full-Time Faculty

College of Arts and Sciences: Music


Email: James Hiller
Phone: 937-229-3985
FH 446


  • Ph.D., MT-BC, Temple University


Jim Hiller's many years of experience as a music therapy clinician, teacher, and solo performer are the grounding elements of his teaching, workshops, and presentations. Jim's clinical experience includes extensive work in child, adolescent, adult, and geriatric psychiatry; brain trauma and neurological disorders, developmental disabilities, and oncology. His clinical work tends toward "active" music therapy methods and his area of expertise is with clinical improvisation based models of music therapy.

Jim has taught in the music therapy programs of Temple University, the College of Mount St. Joseph, and Ohio University. His professional presentations include such topics as improvisational music therapy assessment and treatment, neurologic music therapy, music and the therapeutic relationship, community based music therapy programming, and marketing of music therapy programs.

Jim continues to perform as a guitarist/singer in the Columbus and Dayton, Ohio areas presenting popular song styles in swing/jazz/tin pan alley and light rock genres.

Faculty Perspective

"I believe deeply in the power of music experiences as catalysts for change, learning, healing, and enhancing human development. I believe that within the music therapy process the greatest potential for therapeutic growth and healing exists when the music (provided or produced either by the therapist or by the therapist and client together) is of the highest possible quality. I further believe that the more deeply a music therapist understands the myriad of ways that music affects her/him personally, the more sensitively and effectively they are able to provide therapeutic music experiences for their clients. As such, I believe an essential part of each music therapy student's development is in nurturing a deep personal relationship with music in his or her own life."

Research Interests

  • Musical improvisations of self-concept
  • Clinical improvisation
  • Influence of music on client-therapist relationships
  • Music and medicine

Selected Publications

Gardstrom, S. & Hiller, J. (2017) Resistances in group music therapy with women and men with substance use disorders. Voices: A world forum for music therapy.

Hiller, J. (2016). Epistemological foundations of objectivist and interpretivist research. In B. Wheeler & K. Murphy (Eds.), Introduction to music therapy research. Dallas, TX: Barcelona Publishers. [A 20-chapter introductory eBook.]

Hiller, J. (2016). Epistemological foundations of objectivist and interpretivist research. In B. Wheeler & K. Murphy (Eds.), Music therapy research, 3rd edition (pp. 99–117). Dallas, TX: Barcelona Publishers. [A 68-chapter compendium on music therapy research.]

Hiller, J. (2014). Aesthetic foundations of music therapy: Emotion and music. In B. Wheeler (Ed.), Music therapy handbook (pp. 29–39). NY: Guilford Press.

Hiller, J. (2012). Implications of embodied cognition and schema theory for discerning potential meanings of improvised rhythm (pp. 580-616). In K. Bruscia (Ed.), Readings on music therapy theory (Reading #22, eBook). Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.

McHugh, L., Gardstrom, S., Hiller, J., Brewer, M., & Diestelkamp, W. (2012). The effects of pre-meal, vocal re-creative music therapy on nutritional intake of residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Music Therapy Perspectives, 30(1), 32-42.

Gardstrom, S., Hiller, J. (2010). Song discussion as music psychotherapy. Music Therapy Perspectives, 28(2), 147–156.

Hiller, J. (2009). Use of and instruction in clinical improvisation. Music Therapy Perspectives, 27(1), 25-32.