LTM stands for Live Therapeutic Music. Why "Live?" LTM must be live so that the Music Practitioner (CMP) can adjust the music as the patient listens and responds. Recorded music cannot be modified should the patient require a change of mode, tempo, or volume, nor can recorded music be adjusted to entrain with a patient's body cycles or rhythms.
Any patient can benefit from a Live Therapeutic Music session. Patients who benefit the most are patients who show symptoms of pain, anxiety, agitation, terminal agitation, respiratory distress, dementia or patients who are at the end of life. LTM sessions are not based on a diagnosis or prognosis, but on the physical condition and/or observed symptoms of the patient at the time of that the LTM is provided.
Sessions vary in length depending on the condition and circumstances surrounding the patient. They typically range from 20-40 minutes.
CMP Stands for Certified Music Practitioner. This designation is given to musicians who complete a course of study and certification from the Music for Healing and Transition Program (MHTP) or other governing body. CMPs work with patients in various healthcare institutions, including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, hospice or memory care facilities. CMPs also work with patients at assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and infusion centers.
Interested musicians become CMPs by requesting admission into the Music for Healing and Transition Program. The candidate is screened for musical proficiency prior to and after taking the required course work. The CMP candidate then participates in a supervised MHTP Practicum and Intern program. Upon completing these requirements, the student must pass a final exam of the five training modules and submit recordings of various music that is prescribed for specific patient conditions and symptoms. Upon completing these requirements, the student is then certified by MHTP as a CMP.
LTM can be thought of as a form of sound therapy since it emphasizes the sonic characteristics of music as the element that positively impacts a patient’s health. LTM is always live music and is only intended to create a healing environment for the patient. Music Therapy is prescribed by a physician for specific outcomes that the therapist works to achieve with the patient. A Music Therapist may use recorded music or lead interactive sessions where patients write or perform with the therapist, often in group sessions. Conversely, LTM is always played for individual patients, allowing the music practitioner to alter the music based on a single patient's response.
LTM is often played on acoustic instruments or the human voice; however, some CMPs use electronic keyboards. Acoustic instruments are preferred as the tonal qualities of acoustic (stringed instruments) have harmonic overtones that are not present in digital or music produced by electric instruments. These overtones improve the process of sympathetic vibration and entrainment, which are foundational elements of LTM. However, many CMPs use keyboards and provide very effective LTM sessions for their patients.
The harp provides the most expansive range of tones and frequencies used for LTM. Other stringed instruments include Dulcimer, guitar, violin, viola, and cello. Banjos and Mandolins typically produce tones that are too high and cannot produce lower frequencies. Many CMPs also sing or hum acapella.
A list of CMPs who are current with MHTP can be found on MHTP’s website at http://www.mhtp.org.
Various Therapeutic Music Programs vary slightly, but all accredited programs must follow minimum standards established by the National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians (NSBTM). This organization reviews and sets standards for Therapeutic Musicians who are certified with MHTP, the International Harp Therapy Program and the Bedside Harp Therapy Program.
Live Therapeutic Music is not a reimbursable expense covered by private insurance or Medicare. Part of the reason that Strings of Mercy was started was to raise awareness of the benefits of LTM and help raise funds to pay CMPs so they can provide LTM services to patients in need.