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Accorda Music-Thanatology Institute Training Program

This two-year non-degree training utilizes an Adult Learning Model. Students attend 19 didactic weekend intensives, both in person and on-line. In person weekends are held in Portland, Oregon.

Students learn musical and clinical skills and deepen their learning experience through home study and clinical internships. The program is designed to prepare students to meet the Standards for Certification of the independent professional organization for music-thanatologists, the Music-Thanatology Association International (MTAI – ).

Due to the nature of working with people who are terminally ill or dying, music-thanatology training is also a contemplative experience in which the student is supported to grow in his or her own personal and spiritual life. This training will ideally be a beginning of life-long learning and growth.

Our faculty consists of MTAI certified music-thanatologists, medical clinicians, and other professionals who work closely with music-thanatologists. All aspects of the training are infused with a contemplative perspective to invite and encourage ongoing interior development. Each student is thus supported in deepening their personal and spiritual life as it pertains to the work of a professional music-thanatologist.

The Accorda Music-Thanatology Institute curriculum is fully integrated, with varied, yet cohesive areas of study infused within each Course/Learning Stream.  Instruction is organized around six Courses/Learning Streams, offered concurrently over the entire two-year program. Each Course/Learning Stream consists of 2-4 Modules of related Topics, providing structure and clarity to the curriculum. 

Courses/Learning Streams:

  1. Clinical Studies
  2. The Conscious Body in Health and Illness
  3. Contemplative Musicianship
  4. Personal Development
  5. Professional Development
  6. Thanatology Studies: Death and Dying

Course/Learning Stream Descriptions

Clinical Studies

Includes classroom study and discussion, writing and review of clinical narratives, and skills training. A psychospiritual and physiological understanding of death and dying, as well as a contemplative approach to bedside presence inform clinical studies. All areas of study are ultimately integrated in the clinical setting, under the guidance and mentorship of a certified music-thanatologist. 

The Conscious Body in Health and Illness 

Includes a year-long study of basic anatomy and physiology, and an exploration of various phenomenological approaches to understanding the conscious human body.

Contemplative Musicianship 

Prepares students to sing and play the harp at the bedside of patients receiving palliative or end of life care through a contemplative approach to music. Students learn to respond musically in a “prescriptive” manner rather than a “performance” style.  

Personal Development

Supports students in developing their own contemplative practices and communication skills to meet the challenges of encountering death and dying in the clinical setting.

Professional Development 

Focuses on development of professionalism to prepare students to work within various clinical settings and healthcare teams.

Thanatology Studies: Death and Dying 

Presents a study of historical, contemporary, and cultural practices around death and dying.  Includes the study of the psychospiritual dimensions of palliative and end of life care.

Clinical Internships:

As the keystone of music-thanatology training, the Clinical Internship integrates and puts into practice the learning from the didactic weekends, home study, and lessons. Each student will complete a 200+ hour clinical internship. During this extended clinical experience, students will work with an MTAI certified music-thanatologist mentor. Internship sites will be in hospitals and/or hospice settings, typically once a week for four to five hours. Work schedules and work sites vary. Students must pass a background check and drug screening, have personal health insurance, and current immunizations prior to the internship.