It all began...
MHTP was founded by Martha Lewis and Laurie Riley in Texas in March 1994. "Birth of MHTP" follows.
In 1990, Laurie Riley received information that her father had pneumonia and was in Intensive Care at Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, Washington. Laurie was told that he was not expected to live. She put her harp in the back of her car and drove from her home in California to Washington.
At the hospital she found that her father was not able to communicate. Laurie asked the staff if she might play her harp so her father would know that she was there. Permission was granted for her to play for about 5 minutes. The 5 minutes passed, and she was asked to continue.
After playing a while, she noticed that whenever she took a break, the alarm on her father’s oxymeter would sound. The oxymeter measures the percentage of oxygen in the blood. When she would play again, the alarm would stop, indicating his oxygen levels were again safe. Laurie continued to play.
At 4AM, Laurie said what she thought were her last farewells to her father, and fell asleep on a cot in his room. The next morning she found that he was still alive, and she continued to play the harp. Her father’s condition began to improve. The nurses and doctors told her they thought the music was the turning point. She stayed to play for several days. He left the hospital two weeks later.
Upon urging from a friend in California, Laurie wrote an article about the experience for the Folk Harp Journal, after which she was asked to do workshops in several locations, including Houston, Texas. There, as part of her completion towards a Master of Arts in Expressive Arts Therapy/Counseling, Martha Lewis was finishing a statistical research study on the effects of healing music in four intensive care units at St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in Houston. Martha asked Laurie to give a workshop on healing music at Melody’s Music and Harp Center in Houston. Upon completion of that workshop, Laurie met with Martha and two other interested musicians, Mary Ann Shultz and Mary Radspinner. It was unanimous there was a need for an educational organization to teach others how to play healing music.
A few days later, March 28, 1994, the four met in the back room of Melody’s Music and the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP) was born! The rest of the year was spent structuring the curriculum and the organization itself. Classes began in December 1994 in Vashon Island, Washington, and January 1995 in Houston, Texas.
These founders had a clear vision for MHTP as a not-for-profit international certification program for music practitioners, exclusively for charitable, literary, and educational purposes, funded from tuition and donations.
MHTP incorporated in January 1995 and received nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation status in June 1996. Currently MHTP has over 800 graduates and more than 1000 students enrolled over the more than 20 years of MHTP’s existence.
Beginning in 2002, MHTP has held seven highly-successful biennial conferences in a variety of locales across the United States.