The History of the Music for Healing & Transition Program

MHTP was founded by Martha Lewis and Laurie Riley in Texas in March 1994.  

It all began in 1990, when 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 permission was granted for her to play.  By the next day 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 on healing music in several locations, including Houston, Texas. 

Meanwhile, in 1994, 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 the Texas Medical Center in Houston, TX.  Martha, after reading Laurie’s article, 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.  Since its conception in 1994, MHTP has offered its program with classes in 25 states and Canada.  As of 2017, some of these classes are also being offered via live video conferences.

MHTP was incorporated in January 1995 and received nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation status in June 1996.  As of 2018, MHTP has over 1000 graduates, with CMPs being recognized as integral members of healthcare teams throughout the country.  Beginning in 2002, MHTP has held highly-successful biennial conferences in a variety of locales across the United States. Regional Continuing Educational days and retreats for students and graduates have been held at numerous sites every year since 2000.

These founders had a clear vision for MHTP as a not-for-profit international certification program for music practitioners to provide live therapeutic music, exclusively for charitable, literary, and educational purposes, funded from tuition and donations.  Open to many types of instrumentalists and singers, graduates become Certified Music Practitioners (CMP) and bring their compassionate presence and the gift of healing music to individual patients in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings.

Are you ready to start your journey?

Apply to be a student with MHTP.