Our Milestones

1963

1963

Article on Malaya's First Music Therapy

  • First Malayan music therapist, Louise Cheng, returned to Singapore in 1963 after completing her studies in music therapy at the University of Kansas, USA[1].
1963

1980s – 1990s

1980s – 1990s

  • The first known journal article on music therapy in Singapore[2], authored by Louise Cheng, published in Singapore Journal of Education in 1989.
  • Music therapy programmes started at AESN (now APSN)* and Rainbow Centre in 1991.

  • The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) invited a music therapist, Dr Arthur Harvey of the Music for Health Services Foundation in Hawaii, to conduct a workshop for teachers from special schools in 1994.
  • The first known chapter on music therapy was published in a book about special needs in Singapore[2], by Audrey Ruyters-Lim^ In 1997.
  • The first known public presentation about music therapy in Singapore - ‘Music, Besides Listening… The Use of Music in Music Therapy’ , by Tan Xueli^ at the National Library (Stamford Road) for their Wellness @ The Courtyard series on November 10, 1999.
1980s – 1990s

2000 – 2006

2000 – 2006

  • The first known Singaporean poster presentation by May Clulee^ and Audrey Ruyters-Lim^: “Incorporating Visual Structure into Music Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” at the 10th World Congress of Music Therapy 2002 in Oxford, England.
  • Music therapy programme began at Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) School in 2005.
  • Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) began offering an elective introductory module in music therapy, taught by Ng Wang Feng^, for Music Diploma students in 2006.
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre* in 2006.
  • The first Singaporean (Tan Xueli^) to be awarded the Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Award in 2006 (largest music therapy research award given out by American Music Therapy Association).
2000 – 2006

2007

2007

  • Association for Music Therapy (Singapore) (AMTS) was formally formed and registered on September 19, 2007. The 11 founding members were Audrey Ruyters, Chen Hsueh-Lien, Clara Chong, Daphne Phua, Loi Wei Ming (Treasurer), May Clulee, Melanie Kwan (Secretary), Ng Wang Feng (President), Pamela Fisher, Patsy Tan, and Tan Xueli.
  • Music Therapy services made available in Singapore General Hospital (SGH), KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), Alexandra Hospital (now Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and Dover Park Hospice.
  • “Music to the Ears”, the first music therapy programme in Southeast Asia for the hearing-impaired was established in Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Dr Kate Gfeller (University of Iowa, USA) was invited as the visiting expert for the launch.
2007

2009

2009

  • The first issue of “Music Therapy Times”, the AMTS annual newsletter circulated to the public as part of outreach efforts, was published.

  • AMTS became a member of the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT).
  • Music therapy programme began at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC).
2009

2010

2010

  • The Inaugural Music Therapy Day (subsequently an annual public outreach event) was graced by Dr Clive Robbins (USA), a co-founder of Creative Music Therapy approach.
2010

2011

2011

  • The Inaugural Music Therapy & Healthcare symposium “Global Evidence of Efficacy” was held in 2011. Three visiting experts from the USA, Dr Debra Burns, Dr Joanne Loewy, and Dr Deforia Lane presented on the research foundations that form the evidence base of clinical practice. The symposium was hosted by four hospitals (Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital).
  • Music therapy programme began at Singapore Association for Mental Health*.
2011

2012

2012

  • “Music and the Special Child – Musically Motivating Developmental Milestones in Special Education and Early Intervention”, the first music therapy symposium with a focus on special education with visiting experts, Dr Katrina McFerran (Australia) and Elizabeth Schwartz (USA).
2012

2013

2013

  • First Medical Music Therapy Day, an annual public awareness campaign in hospitals, hosted at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Andrew’s Community Hospital (SACH).
2013

2014

2014

  • First publication documenting the development of the profession in Singapore[4], published in Music and Medicine, co-authored by eight AMTS members.
  • First publication detailing the development and outcomes of medical music therapy services, including research, within a healthcare cluster in Singapore[5], published in Music and Medicine, co-authored by four AMTS members.
  • Dr Katrina McFerran (Australia) and Dr Grace Thompson (Australia) as speakers for “Music Therapy, Young People, and Families with Special Needs”, the first music therapy symposium focusing on youth and families.
  • Dr Cheryl Dileo, Director of Arts and Quality of Life Research Center at Temple University (USA), was the first music therapy expert to be formally invited as keynote speaker for the Singapore Palliative Care Conference.
  • AMTS-Lee Foundation Professional Education and Training Development Fund was launched to support training costs for professional and student members.
2014

2015

2015

  • The first Guided Imagery and Music Training in Asia was held in Singapore - conducted by Dr Denise Grocke, who established the music therapy programme in Australia in 1978, and Carolyn van Dort (Australia).
  • The first Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) was appointed Assistant Professor of Music Therapy position (Lesley University, USA).
2015

2016

2016

  • Inaugural local music therapy conference on Early Intervention and Special Education with pre-and post-conference training by visiting experts, Dr Amelia Oldfield (UK), Dr Petra Kern (USA) & Dr Vicky Abad (Australia).
  • The first Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) was appointed to the editorial board as editor of Journal of Music Therapy.
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Joseph’s Home, Assisi Hospice, Yishun Community Hospital (Dementia Ward).
2016

2017

2017 (10th Anniversary)

  • AMTS celebrated a decade milestone with more than 30 professional members since its formation.
  • The first presentation ‘Music Therapy in Special Education’ to MOE Special Education Branch & Principals of Special Schools on the role of music therapy in special education in 2017. AMTS representatives were Loi Wei Ming, Dawn Chik, Eta Lauw, Calvin Eng.
  • Music therapy service began at Institute for Mental Health (IMH) in the Child Guidance Clinic.
  • AMTS Supervision Fund was launched to support supervision costs for professional members.
  • First textbook of music therapy ‘Cultural Intersections in Music Therapy: Music, Health, and the Person’ to be co-edited by a Singaporean, Dr Tan Xueli^[6].
2017

2018

2018

  • The Council of International Music Therapy Advisors (CIMTA) for AMTS was launched in May to provide guidance (projected term: 2018-2020) on the drafting of official AMTS documents in key areas. They are Dr Alicia Ann Clair (USA), May Clulee^ (Singapore/New Zealand), Dr Feilin Hsiao (Taiwan/USA), Loi Wei Ming^ (Singapore/UK), Dr Katrina McFerran (Australia), Dr Tan Xueli^ (Singapore/USA/Norway), Prof Annette Whitehead-Pleaux (USA).
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Luke’s Hospital.
  • AMTS was co-organiser of Singapore’s inaugural Grief and Bereavement Conference.
  • First Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) appointed as an Associate Professor of Music Therapy position in Norway (University of Bergen).
  • Publication of first local music therapy assessment tool[7], in International Psychogeriatrics, co-authored by Jane Tan.
  • First Singaporean (May Clulee^) appointed as Peer Reviewer of Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.
2018

2019

2019

  • AMTS Music Therapy Competencies, AMTS Code of Ethics and Professional Standards became official AMTS documents.
  • First Singaporean (May Clulee^) appointed as Assistant Editor of New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy.
  • First Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) appointed as i) Associate Editor of Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, ii) Appointed to editorial board of Music Therapy Perspectives, and iii) Appointed to the Advisory Editorial Board of Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy.
  • Music therapy 2019 Symposium (Music Therapy in Singapore: Local and International Perspectives). Keynote speakers include Dr Stuart Wood (UK), Prof Annette Whitehead-Pleaux (USA), Dr Tan Xueli^ (Norway), Ng Wang Feng^ (Singapore).
2019

2021 – 2023

2021 – 2023

  • Music therapy programme began at Ren Ci Community Hospital in 2021.
  • AMTS became an associate member of The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) in May 2022.
  • Music therapy programme began at Children Cancer Foundation in 2022.
  • Music therapy was listed as a recommended complementary intervention approach for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum in the current 2nd edition draft of the Clinical Practice Guidelines on Autism Spectrum Disorder for Children and Adolescents (CPG) in 2023.
  • Music therapy programme began at St Luke’s ElderCare in 2023.
  • Creation of the four Communities of Practice (CoP) - Mental Health, Palliative Care, Dementia, SPED/EIC in 2023.
2021 – 2023

1963

1963

Article on Malaya's First Music Therapy

  • First Malayan music therapist, Louise Cheng, returned to Singapore in 1963 after completing her studies in music therapy at the University of Kansas, USA[1].

1980s – 1990s

1980s – 1990s

  • The first known journal article on music therapy in Singapore[2], authored by Louise Cheng, published in Singapore Journal of Education in 1989.
  • Music therapy programmes started at AESN (now APSN)* and Rainbow Centre in 1991.

  • The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) invited a music therapist, Dr Arthur Harvey of the Music for Health Services Foundation in Hawaii, to conduct a workshop for teachers from special schools in 1994.
  • The first known chapter on music therapy was published in a book about special needs in Singapore[2], by Audrey Ruyters-Lim^ In 1997.
  • The first known public presentation about music therapy in Singapore - ‘Music, Besides Listening… The Use of Music in Music Therapy’ , by Tan Xueli^ at the National Library (Stamford Road) for their Wellness @ The Courtyard series on November 10, 1999.

2000 – 2006

2000 – 2006

  • The first known Singaporean poster presentation by May Clulee^ and Audrey Ruyters-Lim^: “Incorporating Visual Structure into Music Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder” at the 10th World Congress of Music Therapy 2002 in Oxford, England.
  • Music therapy programme began at Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA) School in 2005.
  • Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) began offering an elective introductory module in music therapy, taught by Ng Wang Feng^, for Music Diploma students in 2006.
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Andrew’s Autism Centre* in 2006.
  • The first Singaporean (Tan Xueli^) to be awarded the Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Award in 2006 (largest music therapy research award given out by American Music Therapy Association).

2007

2007

  • Association for Music Therapy (Singapore) (AMTS) was formally formed and registered on September 19, 2007. The 11 founding members were Audrey Ruyters, Chen Hsueh-Lien, Clara Chong, Daphne Phua, Loi Wei Ming (Treasurer), May Clulee, Melanie Kwan (Secretary), Ng Wang Feng (President), Pamela Fisher, Patsy Tan, and Tan Xueli.
  • Music Therapy services made available in Singapore General Hospital (SGH), KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), Alexandra Hospital (now Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) and Dover Park Hospice.
  • “Music to the Ears”, the first music therapy programme in Southeast Asia for the hearing-impaired was established in Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Dr Kate Gfeller (University of Iowa, USA) was invited as the visiting expert for the launch.

2009

2009

  • The first issue of “Music Therapy Times”, the AMTS annual newsletter circulated to the public as part of outreach efforts, was published.

  • AMTS became a member of the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT).
  • Music therapy programme began at Thye Hua Kwan Moral Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC).

2010

2010

  • The Inaugural Music Therapy Day (subsequently an annual public outreach event) was graced by Dr Clive Robbins (USA), a co-founder of Creative Music Therapy approach.

2011

2011

  • The Inaugural Music Therapy & Healthcare symposium “Global Evidence of Efficacy” was held in 2011. Three visiting experts from the USA, Dr Debra Burns, Dr Joanne Loewy, and Dr Deforia Lane presented on the research foundations that form the evidence base of clinical practice. The symposium was hosted by four hospitals (Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, and Ang Mo Kio-Thye Hua Kwan Hospital).
  • Music therapy programme began at Singapore Association for Mental Health*.

2012

2012

  • “Music and the Special Child – Musically Motivating Developmental Milestones in Special Education and Early Intervention”, the first music therapy symposium with a focus on special education with visiting experts, Dr Katrina McFerran (Australia) and Elizabeth Schwartz (USA).

2013

2013

  • First Medical Music Therapy Day, an annual public awareness campaign in hospitals, hosted at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH).
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Andrew’s Community Hospital (SACH).

2014

2014

  • First publication documenting the development of the profession in Singapore[4], published in Music and Medicine, co-authored by eight AMTS members.
  • First publication detailing the development and outcomes of medical music therapy services, including research, within a healthcare cluster in Singapore[5], published in Music and Medicine, co-authored by four AMTS members.
  • Dr Katrina McFerran (Australia) and Dr Grace Thompson (Australia) as speakers for “Music Therapy, Young People, and Families with Special Needs”, the first music therapy symposium focusing on youth and families.
  • Dr Cheryl Dileo, Director of Arts and Quality of Life Research Center at Temple University (USA), was the first music therapy expert to be formally invited as keynote speaker for the Singapore Palliative Care Conference.
  • AMTS-Lee Foundation Professional Education and Training Development Fund was launched to support training costs for professional and student members.

2015

2015

  • The first Guided Imagery and Music Training in Asia was held in Singapore - conducted by Dr Denise Grocke, who established the music therapy programme in Australia in 1978, and Carolyn van Dort (Australia).
  • The first Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) was appointed Assistant Professor of Music Therapy position (Lesley University, USA).

2016

2016

  • Inaugural local music therapy conference on Early Intervention and Special Education with pre-and post-conference training by visiting experts, Dr Amelia Oldfield (UK), Dr Petra Kern (USA) & Dr Vicky Abad (Australia).
  • The first Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) was appointed to the editorial board as editor of Journal of Music Therapy.
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Joseph’s Home, Assisi Hospice, Yishun Community Hospital (Dementia Ward).

2017

2017 (10th Anniversary)

  • AMTS celebrated a decade milestone with more than 30 professional members since its formation.
  • The first presentation ‘Music Therapy in Special Education’ to MOE Special Education Branch & Principals of Special Schools on the role of music therapy in special education in 2017. AMTS representatives were Loi Wei Ming, Dawn Chik, Eta Lauw, Calvin Eng.
  • Music therapy service began at Institute for Mental Health (IMH) in the Child Guidance Clinic.
  • AMTS Supervision Fund was launched to support supervision costs for professional members.
  • First textbook of music therapy ‘Cultural Intersections in Music Therapy: Music, Health, and the Person’ to be co-edited by a Singaporean, Dr Tan Xueli^[6].

2018

2018

  • The Council of International Music Therapy Advisors (CIMTA) for AMTS was launched in May to provide guidance (projected term: 2018-2020) on the drafting of official AMTS documents in key areas. They are Dr Alicia Ann Clair (USA), May Clulee^ (Singapore/New Zealand), Dr Feilin Hsiao (Taiwan/USA), Loi Wei Ming^ (Singapore/UK), Dr Katrina McFerran (Australia), Dr Tan Xueli^ (Singapore/USA/Norway), Prof Annette Whitehead-Pleaux (USA).
  • Music therapy programme began at St. Luke’s Hospital.
  • AMTS was co-organiser of Singapore’s inaugural Grief and Bereavement Conference.
  • First Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) appointed as an Associate Professor of Music Therapy position in Norway (University of Bergen).
  • Publication of first local music therapy assessment tool[7], in International Psychogeriatrics, co-authored by Jane Tan.
  • First Singaporean (May Clulee^) appointed as Peer Reviewer of Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy.

2019

2019

  • AMTS Music Therapy Competencies, AMTS Code of Ethics and Professional Standards became official AMTS documents.
  • First Singaporean (May Clulee^) appointed as Assistant Editor of New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy.
  • First Singaporean (Dr Tan Xueli^) appointed as i) Associate Editor of Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, ii) Appointed to editorial board of Music Therapy Perspectives, and iii) Appointed to the Advisory Editorial Board of Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy.
  • Music therapy 2019 Symposium (Music Therapy in Singapore: Local and International Perspectives). Keynote speakers include Dr Stuart Wood (UK), Prof Annette Whitehead-Pleaux (USA), Dr Tan Xueli^ (Norway), Ng Wang Feng^ (Singapore).

2021 – 2023

2021 – 2023

  • Music therapy programme began at Ren Ci Community Hospital in 2021.
  • AMTS became an associate member of The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) in May 2022.
  • Music therapy programme began at Children Cancer Foundation in 2022.
  • Music therapy was listed as a recommended complementary intervention approach for children and adolescents on the autism spectrum in the current 2nd edition draft of the Clinical Practice Guidelines on Autism Spectrum Disorder for Children and Adolescents (CPG) in 2023.
  • Music therapy programme began at St Luke’s ElderCare in 2023.
  • Creation of the four Communities of Practice (CoP) - Mental Health, Palliative Care, Dementia, SPED/EIC in 2023.

Legend

N.B. Only institutions that have permanent MT positions have been included, and not project-based/short term contract work.

*music therapy services no longer offered

^AMTS founding member

[1]The Straits Times- August 1963- Malaya's first music therapist.
[2]Cheng, L. S. (1989). Music therapy in action: A case study of a brain-damaged teenager. Singapore Journal of Education, 10(2), 77-85.
[3]Ruyters-Lim, A. (1997). Music therapy. In K. Lyen, E. H.Lee, & J. S. Y. Tham-Toh (Eds.), Rainbow dreams: How to help your child with developmental delay (pp. 266-284). Singapore: Armour.
[4]Kwan, M., Ng, W. F., Chiang, C., Loi, H. M. M., Lee, E., Spears, A., … & Ruyters-Lim, A. (2014). Developing music therapy as a professional allied healthcare discipline: The task ahead for the Association for Music Therapy, Singapore. Music and Medicine, 6(1), 25-30.
[5]Tan, L. P. P., Spears, A. M., Kwan, M., &, Chiang, H. L. C. (2014). Music therapy at SingHealth. Music and Medicine, 6(1), 31-39.
[6]Whitehead-Pleaux, A., & Tan, X. (Eds.). (2017). Cultural intersections in music therapy: Music, health, and the person. Dallas, TX: Barcelona.
[7]Tan, J., Wee, S. L., Yeo, P. S., Choo, J., Ritholz, M., & Yap, P. (2019). A new music therapy engagement scale for persons with dementia. International Psychogeriatrics, 31(1), 49-58.