The Development of Music Therapy in Singapore

Music and mental problems
April 18, 2024
Multistage BJP Preamplifier Report
April 19, 2024
Show all

The Development of Music Therapy in Singapore

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background Information

Music therapy is an evidence-based practice and clinical application of musical interventions to attain specific goals within the therapeutic relationship performed by a qualified professional who has completed a certified music therapy program. The trained therapist facilitates music therapy in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, hospices, correctional facilities and rehabilitation centres. (Silverman, 206). (American Music Therapy Association 2).

The discovery of the healing power of music to some of the common health complications is an old concept that traces back to the 20thy century. The use of music therapy began in the period of the two worlds greatest war when the existing musicians in the community during that period were taken to the veteran hospitals to play music to the thousands of the war casualties who were ailing from both the physical and emotional trauma resulting from the wars. As a result of the notable improvements on the patients’ emotional and physical responses, it became apparent that the frequent musical sessions offered to the casualties were very productive. The nurses and doctors requested the hospital authorities to more musicians into the hospitals.

Later on, it became necessary to induct the musicians into some form of training before being permitted to perform for the sick people. Consequently, this necessitated the need to develop a college music therapy curriculum (Jamabo & George, 223). The first music therapy intervention was recorded at around 1800s at Blackwell’s Island in New York in an institutional setting alongside the documented experiment in music therapy. By 1900, music therapy had attracted more support resulting in the foundation of numerous short-lived associations. Michigan State University created the first music therapy academic program, and this was followed by other universities such as Chicago musical College, University of Kansas, Alverno College and College of the Pacific.

Music therapy can be used to improve the health conditions of a range of individuals. Due to the diverse nature of music, music therapy can be used to treat both psychological and physical health concerns(Winkelman 647). While applying music therapy, it is not necessary for one to emulate any form of background knowledge on the music being played for them to benefit, this is because music can trigger positive emotions and stimulate the brain’s reward centres. Through its ability to evoke emotions and having a stimulating effect on the mind, music therapy can alleviate some of the mental health issues such as depression, autism, dementia, personality issues, Schizophrenia, mood-related concerns, anxiety and insomnia.

The use of music therapy has applied to the treatment of physical diseases such as hypertension and cancer. The application of music therapy is not only constrained to those who are suffering from severe psychological and physical problems, but the treatment applies to a variety of situations. For example, music is used to relieve the perception of pain by the mothers who are in labour, coping skills, improving the self-esteem issues among individuals, verbal communication, self-concept, socialisation skills, and group cohesion.

The therapy can be administered to an individual or in groups and the music used is either selected by the therapist or the person who benefits from the treatment. The therapist must ascertain the mode and type of music in use during the therapy session, as well as the duration of the music to ensure that the music meets the goals and needs of the individual under therapy (Thompson & Schlaug 32). While introducing a piece of music during the therapy session, the therapist is expected to apply the Iso principle which states that, the music will only have a positive impact if it matches the patient’s current state. The therapist must, therefore, ensure that that the lyrics and melody of the song conform to the psychological state and mood of the patient.

For one to be considered a professional therapist in the United States, they must possess a minimum of bachelor’s degree in music therapy from the approved institutions in the country by the AMTA. After successful completion of the degree program, the individual must sit for a certification exam by CBMT after which they are awarded Music Therapist-Board Certified (MT-BC) credential which is a requirement for the practice.

1.2 Aim of the study

This study aims to determine the evolutionary changes in music therapy in Singapore from the 1960s to the present time.

1.3 objectives of the study

  1. To find out the nature of music therapy in Singapore
  2. To investigate the new aspects of music therapy in Singapore
  3. To find out the current state of music therapy in Singapore

1.4 Research questions

This paper will attempt to answer the following questions

  1. How has the use of music for treatment improved in Singapore?
  2. What new changes have taken place in Singapore music therapy since the 1960s to the current period?
  3. What are the milestones?
  4. What it’s a success?
  5. What are the requirements for being a therapist in Singapore?
  6. What are the distinctions between the past and the current methods used in music therapy?
  7. What are the reasons for the growth of music therapy in Singapore?

1.5 Definition of Key terms

In this paper, the word growth is identified as the key term that will be applied throughout the study. Concerning this research, growth can be defined as a continuous transformation of Singaporean music therapy. In this context, development is used to mean the application of music for healthcare purposes.

6 The significance of the study

This study will provide essential insights into the weaknesses of Singapore’s music therapy that need to be reinforced by borrowing new features from advanced countries such as the U.S.

1.7 limitations of the study

There are limited resources which give a piece of detailed information concerning the early nature of music therapy in Singapore.



Work Cited

American Music Therapy Association. (2015). What is music therapy? Retrieved from

Boxill, E. H., & Chase, K. M. (2007). Music therapy: An overview. In Music therapy for developmental disabilities (2nd Ed.) [E-reader version]. Retrieved from

Gooding, L. F. (2008). Finding your inner voice through song: Reaching adolescents with techniques familiar to poetry therapy and music therapy. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 21(4), 219-229.

Jamabo, T. A., & George, I. R. (2014). Music as a therapy for depression in women: A theoretical perspective. International Journal of Academic Research, 6(4), 227-231.

Silverman, Michael J. “Staff and Administrators’ Perceptions of Music Therapy with Acute Care Mental Health Inpatients: A Qualitative Investigation.” Journal of Creativity in Mental Health 13.2 (2018): 206-219.

Thompson, W. F., & Schlaug, G. (2015). The healing power of music. Scientific American Mind, 26(2), 32-41.

Winkelman, M. (2003). Complementary therapy for addiction: “Drumming out drugs.” American Journal of Public Health, 93(4), 647-651.

Dictionary, Merriam-Webster. “Merriam-Webster.” Incorporated, 10th edition (1996).