Accreditation Standards



Standard 1: Approved programs shall include in their curricula certain educational requirements as listed below:

1.1. Screening Process: Approved programs will have an admission screening process, admitting candidates who demonstrate appropriate musical skills, interpersonal skills and suitability. Admission decisions, activities, and operations shall be made without discrimination based upon race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, or any other characteristic that is protected under any applicable federal, state, or local laws.

1.2. Required Reading: Approved programs will require that students submit book reviews of selected books from the Program’s required book list. The program’s required book list will include books which cover a broad range of topics, such as: music, healthcare, integrative medicine and healing, the science of sound, topics on death and dying, self-care, and the art of service.

1.3. Patient Experience Hours: Accredited training programs will require graduating students to obtain direct human patient experience, fulfilled by completion of a minimum of 45 hours of music provided directly to human therapeutic music clients in a health care setting including but not limited to hospitals, nursing homes, care centers, and hospice facilities or patients.  Most interactions should be one to one interactions, although groups of up to three will be acceptable as long as each patient can be separately documented.   Students will play for a minimum of 100 patient encounters. The hours requirement is specifically 45 hours of playing therapeutic music for individual clients/patients. This does not include other time spent in the facility, conversation with staff, family or the patient, or record keeping.  In circumstances when direct patient contact is not possible, the individual programs may use live remote bedside playing, playing for family and friends, or other means as deemed appropriate. 

1.4. Continuing Education: Approved programs will require that graduates complete ongoing Continuing Education activities as outlined and approved by their certifying program. The approved Continuing Education activities will be the equivalent of 40 hours every four years, and must directly enhance the work of the therapeutic musician.

1.5. Final Music Submission: Approved programs will require a final music submission. Each student is minimally required to present an audio sample demonstrating musical ability and appropriate music, and any other final submissions the approved program deems fit in order to graduate their students. 

Standard 2: Approved Programs shall teach the subject of Clinical Protocols. These shall include certain areas of study.

2.1. Assessment techniques and processes: Students will learn to develop their senses and critical thinking skills; how to unobtrusively gather information from the environment, colleagues, and the patient, in order to develop an immediate course of action in providing therapeutic music to the patient.

2.2. Reporting methods/logging and/or charting: Students will be instructed in general patient reporting, monitoring, charting, and logging skills in compliance with HIPAA guidelines and patient confidentiality practices.

2.3. Infection control/bio hazards: Students will be instructed about infection control and Universal Precautions: Students will be instructed to investigate inoculation requirements for healthcare workers in their respective state/country. Students will learn about biohazards, airborne and tactile microbial and viral infections, how to personally handle such situations, and general healthcare procedures regarding patient contact.

2.4. Case Studies: Students will review case studies concerning clinical situations with non- ambulatory patients. Students will review or participate in case studies where difficult bedside situations require the student to consider possible reactions and outcomes.

2.5. General understanding of monitoring equipment: Students will learn about the various types of devices that monitor patients’ vital signs and will be briefed on standard equipment as an introduction to various diagnostic and life sustaining devices.

Standard 3: Approved Programs will teach healthcare basics, professional behavior and terminology.

3.1. Students will be prepared to provide individualized therapeutic music for patients of many ages, ethnicities, and conditions who are receiving healthcare services in institutional settings such as hospitals, clinics, hospices, nursing homes, and out-patient healthcare facilities, as well as those receiving home care as an extension of rehabilitative, hospice and palliative care.

3.2. Students will be oriented to the unique, professional skills required to work in different types of healthcare facilities as part of a healthcare team. They will be taught about accountability and liability issues, policies and procedures, medical and administrative terminology specific to healthcare.

3.3. Students will be introduced to basic human anatomy and physiology.

3.4. Students will be taught the importance of proper dress code, cleanliness and good health. Training will include information about the potential negative effects of body scents and perfumes. Confidentiality laws and related issues, and proper deportment with patients, administrators, other workers and clinicians in the healthcare environment will be addressed.

3.5. Students will be taught ethics in relation to the practice of therapeutic music, including items such as respect for patients, acceptance of gifts, confidentiality, scope of practice, professional and personal boundaries.

3.6. Students of NSBTM accredited programs will be taught to respect diversity of cultural, social, and religious norms.

Standard 4: Approved Programs will emphasize Deepening Perceptual Awareness.

4.1. Students will be taught theoretical models, multi-level processes and/or methods to assess and serve a patient. These models, processes and/or methods, which are based on both scientific and spiritual studies of consciousness, may include, but not be limited to: increasing awareness about self and others through perceptual observation; enhancement of natural sensitivities and empathy; the power of intention; and energetic medicine. Therapeutic Musicians recognize and respect diverse spiritual pathways in their work.

Standard 5: Approved Programs will teach Fundamentals of Music Theory and Music Application.

5.1. Students will be taught the fundamentals of music theory, how to improvise, modulate and play modal music, and about the intrinsic healing value of music. Students will learn to use the elemental qualities of music and healing musicianship in order to best serve the patients.

5.2. For satisfactory program graduation, students will be required to demonstrate an understanding of their principle instrument/voice, and play individualized music at a minimum of intermediate level of proficiency for the patient circumstances. Candidates must play and/or sing in tune, smoothly and without hesitation. They will be required to demonstrate proficiency in improvisation and modulation, and have a repertoire of appropriate duration that meets the needs of many different types of patients.

Standard 6: Approved Programs will include in their curricula the Theory and Holistic Application of the Physics of Sound.

6.1. An understanding of the characteristics and primary elements of sound, specifically how frequency, vibration, and resonance affect the human body, is fundamental to the practice of therapeutic music. Students will learn how these principles can be used through musical elements to facilitate healing. Students learn about the mechanics of sound, relative to various resonant-based methods, and techniques that can address an individual patient’s condition. Students study the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual effects of therapeutically applied music. Students are introduced to the current research on the effect of music and sound on the mind/body and given resources for further study.

Standard 7: Approved Programs will include a course on Introduction to the Healthcare Business.

7.1. Approved programs will provide students with basic business tools including: writing proposals, invoicing, interview techniques, marketing, networking and employment strategies that are needed to support the successful practice of a therapeutic musician.

7.2. Approved programs will teach the difference between music therapy and therapeutic music.

Standard 8: Approved Programs will teach Self-Care.

8.1. Students will be taught basic ergonomics and appropriate posture as applied to the use of their musical instruments and/or voice. They will be taught stress reduction techniques and various self-care processes for maintaining optimum physical, mental and emotional health as a therapeutic musician.

Standard 9: Graduate Titles:

9.1. A program accredited by the NSBTM will maintain its unique graduate title. All graduates of NSBTM accredited programs may be generally referred to as certified therapeutic musicians.


Accreditation Standards edited and approved February 2021