The initial documentation of music therapy in Washington State begins with a Seattle Times newspaper article, “Fun, games part of children’s therapy,” published on September 25, 1977. It focused on the work of music therapist, Jennarose Rantz (see image below), at Children’s Orthopedic (now Seattle Children’s).
Over the next 20 years, music therapy developed in Washington State more slowly than its counterparts in the Midwest and East Coast. However, it grew steadily. In 1989, the Washington Music Therapy Association held a conference in Seattle, and again, in 1991. Regionally, the University of Washington hosted the Western Region American Music Therapy Association Conference in 1995.
As the new millennium approached, Music Works Northwest began music therapy programming in Bellevue, WA. The development of music therapy grew rapidly over the early 2000s (see infographic below). As a result, the Washington State Music Therapy Taskforce (“the Taskforce”) formed and began the fight to gain licensure for music therapists.
In 2012, the Wilson Trust through the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) awarded a grant to establish the first music therapist dedicated for a cancer care unit. This grant continued to support the music therapy community in future years. In 2015, PNW Music Therapy began a contract with Swedish Cancer Institute and Swedish Multiple Sclerosis Center. After the grant funding ended, both Swedish facilities agreed to continue funding for their music therapy programs.
The Taskforce passed a music therapy licensure bill through the State Senate in 2019. However, it stalled in the Health and Wellness Committee. Advocacy work continues to gain state recognition for music therapy as a licensed practice to increase access for all Washington residents.
"Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heart strings. It acts as medicine." - Macklemore
Support the aims and objectives of the American Music Therapy Association; to promote the growth of music therapy as a profession in the state of Washington; to provide a professional support group for music therapists in Washington; to encourage ongoing education of music therapy by providing speakers, workshops, and other special projects.