History of Music Therapy

  • Earliest reference

    One of the first known references to music therapy appeared in an article entitled "Music Physically Considered" in Columbian Magazine.
  • Period: to

    Music as Therapy

    The therapeutic value of music began appearing in medical dissertations during this period. Both Edwin Atlee and Samuel Mathews, students of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Rush, explored the physical benefits of music in articles.
  • Music institutions

    Eva Augusta Vescelius founded the National Society of Musical Therapeutics. The organization was short-lived, but was an earlier institution that explored music therapy.
  • National Association for Music in Hospitals

    To bring music to patients, Isa Maud Ilsen founded the National Association for Music in Hospitals, however the organization would not exist for long.
  • Period: to

    Pioneers emerge

    During the 1940s, three people emerged as innovators in music therapy. Psychiatrist Ira Althuscher promoted music therapy in Michigan for a few decades. E. Thayer Gaston advocated for more institutionalization of music therapy. Finally, Willem van de Wall wrote the first music therapy guide, Music In Institutions.
  • Michigan State Program

    Michigan State University created the first academic program for music therapy. Other universities such as University of Kansas added programs later.
  • National Association for Music Therapy

    The National Association for Music Therapy was founded in New York. The organization created a registry, board-certification requirements and published clinical and research journals.The organization operated until 1997 before merging with the American association.
  • American Association for Music Therapy

    Initially called the Urban Federation of Music Therapists, AAMT was created this year. It differed from the National Association of Music Therapy in its philosophy, education and approach.
  • Certification

    The Certification Board for Music Therapists was created to validate the profession and codify the requirements for therapists.
  • American Music Therapy Association

    The American Association and the National Association of Music Therapy merged to form the American Music Therapy Association. The organization serves more than 5,000 music therapists and publishes two journals.