Frequently Asked Questions

Use the table of contents to navigate the FAQs below.

  1. Program Requirements
  2. Program Details
  3. Cost of Program
  4. Program Preparation
  5. Application Process
  6. Harps, Harp and Voice Lessons

Program Requirements

Do I have to have a degree to apply for the program?

A high-school diploma or GED is the minimum level of education required.

Admissions Requirements

In order to be eligible to attend Accorda Music-Thanatology Institute, applicants must:

● Be at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time of enrollment

● Be a citizen of the United States or a lawful permanent resident

● Meet all legal requirements to complete an internship in a US clinical/medical setting

● Have foundational knowledge of music theory, and 

● Must have basic proficiency on an instrument and/or voice

Successful applicants will be required to complete a criminal background check prior to enrollment.

Program Details

How many hours should I expect to spend on this program each week?

It varies from individual to individual. The fixed commitments are:

  • One didactic weekend a month for two full days (seven in-person and twelve online), except for the months of August and December.
  • Online assignments related to classroom study, both as follow-up to didactic sessions and in preparation for upcoming classes and discussions are assigned every month; the amount varies from month to month. Each student will need different amounts of time to complete the assignments.
  • 45-minute harp and 45-minute voice lessons each week; either online or in-person. Recommended practice time is at least 20-30 minutes a day. 
  • Mentored clinical internship 4 – 5 hours per week with additional time for reflection and clinical narrative writing.
  • A contemplative component is integrated into all aspects of the training and students will need to commit time and attention to their own inner development throughout the course of the training.

Do you offer an extended program? Could I start and take at least a class or two or do you require students to complete the whole program in 23-months?

At this time, there is no way to provide an extended program. All aspects of the program – didactic sessions, harp and voice lessons, and clinical internships are integrated. Student cohorts form community which supports the overall learning process. This can only happen when all students are on the same timeline throughout the training.

Can the program be completed without traveling to Portland, OR?

During the 23-month program students will be required to attend seven on-site didactic weekends in-person in Portland, OR. In addition, students will be required to attend twelve online didactic weekends. Students are required to attend harp and voice lessons both in-person and online.

We place a high value on building a learning community and this happens more readily when everyone is present together for all the didactic weekends whether online or in-person.

Can I play an instrument other than harp in my studies, clinical internship, and as a certified music-thanatologist in the field?

Music-thanatologists utilize harp and vocal music exclusively in a unique manner to serve the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the terminally ill and dying.

Please see Harps, Harp and Voice Lessons to learn more.

Cost of Program

What is the cost for the training?

Tuition, fees, and variable costs:

Cost of ProgramAmount
Tuition –$ 2,900 per term x 6 terms$17,400
Enrollment Fee$150
Harp/Voice Lessons – $1,000 per term x 6 terms (includes 10 harp/10 voice per term)$6,000
Books*$200*
Materials, Supplies*$50*
Liability Insurance for Internship – approx. $40 yearly*$120*
Background Check for Internship*$50*
Drug Screening for Internship*$50*
Graduation Fee $75
Total:$24,095* 

Tuition, fees, and variable costs subject to sales tax based on state of residence.

*These items are not paid to Accorda Music-Thanatology Institute. Students are responsible for covering these costs. Some costs will vary. This is an approximation.

Students must acquire their own harp prior to the beginning the program for use in practicum sessions, lessons, practice, and internships. Harps can be rented in some areas. New harps range from approximately $2700 – $4000. Prospective students should talk to harp instructors about harps that are suitable for this work. 

Are there any financial aid or scholarships for this training?

Music-thanatology training is not eligible to offer Federal Student Aid and no scholarships are available at this time.

How much do harps, harp and voice lessons cost?

Harps may be rented monthly, ranging from $50-$80 a month, and some harp rental organizations offer rent-to-buy programs. Used and new harp prices vary, but new harps appropriate for music-thanatology (see below) cost between $2000 – $4000. You will benefit from harp insurance, which runs at about $100-$150 per year. Harp and voice lessons cost $1,000 per term.

Program Preparation

What should I do to prepare for the training?

While students must have basic proficiency on an instrument and/or voice, it is helpful for students to begin with at least a basic proficiency on the harp and with voice. We recommend that applicants without harp and voice experience start taking lessons. You should also be able to read and notate musical score. A basic understanding of music theory is essential.

Accorda’s harp and voice teachers can help assess your skills in these areas and recommend resources for study prior to entering the training. See further information below. 

Prior to applying, can I observe a music vigil to see what is involved?

Because of healthcare privacy law (HIPAA) it is not possible for us to invite others into a live vigil. In actuality, it is rare that a student has had the opportunity to observe a live harp vigil before entering the training.

On the Music-Thanatology page on this website, check out the videos and recordings to learn more about the music vigil. The Music-Thanatology Association International also has a list of podcasts, articles, and videos to offer insight into the experience of a music vigil.

Can I transfer credits for required classes from another institution?

No. The training is an infused curriculum particular to music-thanatology. Every aspect is interwoven with all the other elements.

I am a medical professional. Can I opt out or test out of Anatomy and Physiology?

All curriculum is taught from a music-thanatology perspective, teaching students how to offer music most effectively for our patients. As such, we don’t provide an opportunity for students to opt out or test out of any subject matter.

In previous cohorts there have been massage therapists, nurses, and other professionals. We have heard universally that they appreciated taking these classes because they learned to apply the material in new ways. The same is true for professional musicians. The methods we teach for voice and harp are unique to music-thanatology.

Application Process

Applications for the Music-Thanatology Training and Certification Preparation Program are considered complete when we have received the following documents in each category: 

  1. Completed Application Form 
  2. Completed Music Questionnaire 
  3. Musical Proficiency Video
  4. Resume 
  5. Post-Secondary transcripts, if applicable (please provide an unofficial copy)
  6. Personal Statement 
  7. References (x3) 
  8. Technical Skills Standards Acknowledgement & Signature

Harps, Harp and Voice Lessons

What if I do not play the harp? Can I apply for music-thanatology training?

If you do not already play the harp and/or need more experience with basic music theory, we recommend that applicants begin lessons right away. Though it is not absolutely required, having basic harp skills prior to beginning the training will prepare students to absorb the infused learning curriculum from the start. Harp lessons for prospective students are available, in-person or online, with our faculty.

How do I choose a harp?

Harps recommended for music-thanatology training and professional practice have specific requirements due to the nature of bedside work. We ask prospective students to consult with one of our harp teachers prior to purchasing a harp to ensure that the harp you plan to use is appropriate. Renting a harp prior to purchasing one is a good option for beginners. Even if you already own a harp, faculty will need to approve every harp prior to entering the program.

What kind of harp do I need?

We use lever harps, generally ranging from 28 to 35 strings with the following qualities:

  • Warm, mellow tone, which may differ from a harp used for performance;
  • Size and weight manageable for transporting to patients’ homes, hospice or hospital rooms, including ease of lifting and getting in and out of vehicles.
  • Right-or left shoulder playing position (see below).
  • Nylon or monofilament strings are recommended for beginning harp players. 
  • We ask that students have a lever on every string – for the maximum flexibility with prescriptive choices. 

How do I find a harp teacher?

Working at the bedside of the terminally ill or dying requires a nuanced approach to playing the harp. Therefore, we recommend that all applicants learn this approach from the beginning. Lessons can be arranged with our harp faculty either in-person or online. Though it is possible to learn beginning skills from most harp teachers or even from a book, it will be most helpful for the applicant to learn the music-thanatology approach from the beginning.

To be contacted by a member of the harp faculty, please Contact Us.

How do I find a voice teacher?

As with the harp, music-thanatologists use a unique approach to singing. One of the principles of the technique is the knowledge that everyone’s authentic, or real, voice is inherently beautiful. While many of us may not like our singing voices, the vocal training works with each student to find their authentic voice.

Having the basic vocal technique prior to beginning the training will prepare students to absorb the infused learning curriculum from the start. Voice lessons for prospective students are available, in-person and online.

To be contacted by a member of the voice faculty, please Contact Us.

What if I am an experienced harpist or singer? Can I opt out of harp and/or voice lessons?

No. The methods we teach for voice and harp are unique to music-thanatology.