Music-Thanatology Training and Certification Preparation Program

Integrated Learning

Clinical studies of the human body alongside studies in contemplative musicianship, professional standards, and personal development.

Hybrid Coursework

Virtual sessions and in-person sessions in Portland, Oregon over the course of 23-months utilizing an adult-learning model.

Clinical Internship

Integrate musical, clinical, and professional skills with certified music-thanatologist mentors at hospital, hospice, and other clinical internship sites.

The Program

Our 23-month non-degree training utilizes an adult-learning model. Students learn musical and clinical skills during 19 didactic weekend intensives, both in-person and online (in-person weekends are held in Portland, Oregon). Students deepen their learning experience through asynchronous online learning activities, weekly harp and voice lessons, weekly clinical internships, and home study. 

The program is designed to prepare students to meet the Standards for Certification of the independent certifying and 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 their own personal and spiritual life. This training encourages life-long learning and growth in students continuing beyond the duration of the program.

Accorda’s music-thanatology training is a contemplative experience in which the student is supported to grow in their own personal and spiritual life.

Learning Streams

The Accorda Music-Thanatology Institute curriculum is fully integrated, with varied, yet cohesive areas of study within each of the Learning Streams.  The Learning Streams are offered concurrently over the entire 23-month program and consist of 2-4 modules of related topics which provide structure and clarity to the curriculum.

Learning Streams

Clinical Studies

Includes classroom study and discussion, writing and review of clinical narratives, and skills training. A psychospiritual and physiological understanding of dying and death, 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 dying and death in the clinical setting.

Professional Development

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

Thanatology: Dying and Death  

Presents a study of historical, contemporary, and cultural practices around dying and death. 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.