Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ’s

Can the MTAI train me to be a music-thanatologist?

The Music-Thanatology Association International (MTAI) stands as an independent professional organization and certifying body for the field of music-thanatology worldwide. MTAI does not offer training for music-thanatologists. Certification is granted based on demonstration of the professional standards for competency.



How do I apply for membership in the Music-Thanatology Association International (MTAI)?

Three options are available. One may apply as a Full music-thanatologist, for those that have been certified by our association, having met and demonstrated all of the posted Standards and Competencies. MTAI also offers a Friend membership, which is primarily a support level. Finally, the Associate level of membership for those that are pursuing, or have completed training in the field.

To find out more regarding the levels of the membership in MTAI, including all criteria, benefits, obligations, and limitations, please submit an inquiry through the Contact link.



How do I contact music-thanatologists in my area?

To contact music-thanatologists in the USA and internationally, see the Associates Worldwide page.



Are professional music-thanatologists available to speak at conferences, lectures, and in-services about this exciting new field?

Professional music-thanatologists of MTAI are available to speak on a variety of pertinent topics related to the field of music-thanatology. Please email requests.



Is there scientific research supporting music-thanatology?

There are published research studies specifically measuring the effects of music-thanatology. Abstracts may be accessed through the following links:
American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine
Spirituality and Health International

More in-depth examination and analysis can be found in the following books:
Music at the End of Life: Easing the Pain and Preparing the Passage
The Harp and the Ferryman


Are there conferences and lectures to learn more about music-thanatology?

Information regarding lectures, concerts or other activities can be found on the Calendar of Events. MTAI holds an annual conference, usually in the autumn and usually in the Western United States. Membership (of any of the three levels) is required. Please Contact Us for more details.



Does music-thanatology have a religious orientation?
Music-thanatologists pledge to serve the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the dying, but the practice of music-thanatology is not carried-out under the auspices of any religion. Spiritual needs may be addressed within or without the milieu of a religious tradition, and acknowledging the inherent worth of each person and serving them with unconditional love and attention is at the heart of the work of music-thanatology.



Why does music-thanatology use harp and voice?

The harp is portable and polyphonic. It is mostly wood and has live, vibrating strings. Those strings are allowed to ring, creating an audible sense of blossoming forth into life, followed by resonance and duration, and ending with a gentle taper towards restful silence.

For music-thanatologists, the harp is eminently practical. We need to be able to play chords along with melody, harmony and counterpoint so that we have the greatest possible range of musical options to address the varied and changing circumstances presented by our patients and their families. Voice is another tool that we carry in our figurative medicine bag. Where the harp offers pure tone, the voice is a manifestation of breath and conveys an unmistakable quality of human presence. It can accompany the harp or take on the flow of a melodic or harmonic line. In addition, text may be woven into a vocal delivery as another texture, if such a thing is indicated.

Some situations require a simple cycling between sound and silence or through reliable, metered chord patterns, some need melodic or dynamic expansion and contraction, some need sustain and breath, some need actual words for those present to hear, but most situations call for some shifting tapestry of all of these and many other musical elements in order to support the process that is at work in those nearing life's end.

Created: June 23, 2008     Last updated: July 29, 2015