Strings of Mercy

Changing the way we care for the suffering through Live Therapeutic Music

Certified Music Practitioner playing Live Therapeutic Music at the bedside of a hospital patient

What is LTM?

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.

Who can benefit from LTM?

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.

How long is an LTM Session?

Sessions vary in length depending on the condition and circumstances surrounding the patient.  They typically range from 20-40 minutes.

What is a CMP?

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.

How does someone become a CMP?

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.

Certified Music Practitioner playing  Live Therapeutic Music on a harp for a patient

How do LTM and Music Therapy Differ?

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 has no specific goal other than to create a healing environment for the  patient.  Music Therapy, on the other hand, 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 music with the therapist, often in group sessions.  Conversely, LTM is always played for individual patients, allowing the therapeutic musician to alter the music based on a single patient's response. 

Is all LTM played on acoustic instruments?

LTM is usually 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.

What instruments work best with LTM?

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.

How can I find a CMP near me?

A list of CMPs who are current with MHTP can be found on MHTP’s website at

Are all Therapeutic Music Programs alike?

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.

Does insurance cover LTM?

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.

We'd love to answer them!