The use of music as a healing influence to affect health and behavior is as least as old as the writings of Aristotle and Plato. However, the 20th-century discipline began during World War I, when both amateur and professional musicians of all types visited veterans’ hospitals to perform for the thousands suffering physical and emotional war traumas. Hospitals soon realized that musicians required training prior to entering medical facilities, leading Michigan State University to create the first music therapy degree program in the world in 1944.
In 1950, the National Association for Music Therapy (NAMT) chartered its membership. In 1971, the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT) developed. And in 1998, the two groups joined forces to form the American Music Therapy Association Inc. (AMTA), now representing more than 7,000 music therapists, corporate members, and related associations worldwide.
In 1985, the World Federation of Music Therapy Inc. (WFMT) formed to improve the health and well-being of individuals and populations worldwide through music interventions, promote and develop music therapy as an art and science, and support the global development of clinical practice, education, and research to demonstrate its impact on and contribution to society.