Amy Clements-Cortes

These Songs of (Academic) Freedom

She's a professor at the University of Toronto, a registered psychotherapist, a singer, a vocal coach... and a pretty mean cook.


Dr. Amy Clements-Cortés is a music therapist, researcher, psychotherapist, and assistant professor at UofT’s Department of Music. We asked her everything from what a music therapist does for fun to what’s on her reading list in hopes of giving you a better understanding of what goes on outside the lab for one of the best minds in Canadian research.

What do you like most about being a researcher?

I like being able to develop my research questions from things arising in my practice as a registered psychotherapist, music therapist and educator. I think the best questions come from thinking about your daily work practice.

Researching your work area can then lead to implementing best practices in your work, building the scholarly literature, and hopefully, filling gaps in the research. There is very little research that is completely new. As researchers, we are able to investigate topics that others have contributed to and continue to advance that topic.

I love collaborative research as well, and see this as a trend in healthcare. There are so many research approaches, there is always learning to be done, and I guess I love that as a lifelong learner!

What advice would you give young researchers?

As a professor who teaches research methodology to graduate students, I often tell them to try not to get overwhelmed with the numerous research designs and to start with a methodology that seems to “jive” with where they are at in present day and with what best suits their research questions. I get them to brainstorm things that have come up in their reading or clinical practices where they were left wanting to learn more and to start from there.

What are you reading right now?

I read a lot. Right now, it is a number of research articles to support my current study on the internship experiences of pre-professionals in clinical music therapy.

What do you like to do for fun?

Since I am a musician, I enjoy going to live music and theatre events when possible. I also really love karaoke, and sadly, don’t have enough time to sing in that forum. I also love spending time with my family and friends and enjoying all the gifts they bring to my life. And, I must say I am a pretty mean cook; I have many specialties that are often requested by family. Cooking is a nice break from my computer work indeed.

If you could do any profession other than your own what would it be?

To be honest, I love my work. I don’t just do one job, and I think that is why I love it. I work clinically as a Registered Psychotherapist, Professor, Supervisor, Vocal Coach, Singer and also do considerable service work all while staying engaged with research. All this keeps me very busy but fulfilled. I love to see clients advance in their goals and to work so closely with persons at end-of-life. I also love learning and inspiring the next generation.

Aside from things for your survival, what item would you most want to have with you on a deserted island?

I think a piano.

If you enjoyed reading about Amy, check out our article on music therapy and her work with the terminally ill over here.

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