Happy World Music Therapy Day!
March 1st was declared world music therapy day in 2016 by the World Federation of Music Therapy! In honor of this day, we wanted to share a little more about the history of music therapy…
Music therapy began gaining momentum in the early 20th century, primarily during and after World War I and World War II. Doctors and Nurses at veteran hospitals began noticing that musicians were making an impact on their patient’s physical and emotional health. Isa Maud Ilsen and Harriet Ayer Seymour were the first to research, promote, and treat these needs in the early 1900’s. Ilsen even lectured at Columbia University and created a one semester program to train and educate musicians on music therapy in hospitals and institutions. Seymour also educated and trained musicians and she stated she trained more than 500 “musical doctors” to work with sick or injured World War II veterans.1
Sadly, neither Seymour nor Ilsen’s organizations were long-lived, each lasting about 5 years. Thankfully, in the mid 1900’s music therapy transitioned into an organized and clinical profession. Ira Altshuler, MD, Willem van de Wall, and E. Thayer Gaston helped music therapy become the evidence-based practice it is today. Interestingly, most of the work they accomplished happened right here in Michigan, where Altshuler lived!
Another key role in the development of music therapy was the continued creation and development of imaging technology (CT and MRI machines). This growing technology was able to demonstrate what happens in the brain when multiple different types of of music and when different musical elements are played!
In 1944 the first music therapy college training program was created right here at Michigan State University. Afterwards many other universities in many different states followed suit, and in 1983 The Certification Board for Music Therapists was created. Today, over 8,000 music therapists have “MT-BC” credentials after their names.2 Including all of our therapists here at Edge Water.
What began gaining momentum in the 1900’s has only continued to grow. We now know that music therapy is for any age and offers a creative and engaging way to meet behavioral, social/emotional, cognitive, physical, and other rehabilitative goals. Also within the last couple of years, we can now offer telehealth music therapy! If you have any questions or want to learn more about our services, contact us!
1 William B. Davis, Keeping the Dream Alive: Profiles of Three Early Twentieth Century Music Therapists, Journal of Music Therapy, Volume 30, Issue 1, Spring 1993, Pages 34–45, https://doi.org/10.1093/jmt/30.1.34