Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund

We promote, develop and support music therapy services and research in order to restore, maintain and improve the mental, physical and emotional health of Canadians.

Music Therapist and client FrankieOur Impact Why We Exist

Music is one of the most basic human means of expression and communication.

So it should be no surprise that music can be used as a therapy to help people physically, cognitively, spiritually, and emotionally. Music therapy helps to improve quality of life and helps people to reach their fullest potential. This is the power of music therapy.

Music therapy is an internationally established therapy, developed through decades of research and evidence. Music therapy draws upon the power of making and responding to music and is delivered by accredited music therapists. Treatments are unique for each individual or group and music therapy is often used alongside other therapies. Music therapists tap into those aspects of music that can most help people to feel better and move closer to reaching their full potential.A music therapy session is based on the needs and strengths of clients and might include:

  • Singing and playing instruments
  • Listening to music
  • Moving and dancing
  • Writing songs
  • Improvising
  • Discussing and analyzing music
  • Using relaxation and/or imagery techniques

You do not need any previous music experience or ability to benefit from music therapy. Professional music therapists have completed approved music therapy degrees and 1000-hour internships. They are designated as Music Therapist Accredited (MTA) by the Canadian Association for Music Therapy; the national governing body for professional music therapy in Canada. Music therapy can help an incredibly wide range of people to address the challenges they face. It helps the young and old and in-between, facing any number of issues, including:

  • addiction
  • anxiety
  • autism
  • brain injuries
  • chronic illness
  • communication challenges
  • dementia
  • developmental disabilities
  • end of life
  • learning disabilities
  • neurological impairments
  • physical challenges
  • schizophrenia
  • sensory impairments
  • stress or depression

Our Story What We Do

People come to music therapy with a wide range of challenges and needs. Music therapy can move people toward reaching a number of goals, including: 
  • personal development  
  • exploring and resolving personal issues
  • Increasing self-expression, relaxation and mobility
  • Improving communication, learning, social skialls and motor skills
  • Developing or maintaining cognition and memory
The success of music is based on the fact that all people, regardless of musical experience or background, have a basic ability to take in, enjoy, and respond to music.
Research tells us that the brain has a memory system for music that is unique from the many other neurological systems. This makes it possible to design music therapy treatments that can effectively target non-musical functions of the brain.

Our story

Founded in 1994, the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund (CMTTF) is a charity with the vision to create better lives for Canadians through the transformative power of music therapy. For a teen struggling from depression and unable to cope, a woman recovering from an accident who cannot walk or a child diagnosed with autism who cannot speak, music therapy can transform lives. A permanent home for the Music Therapy Trust, the Music Therapy Centre opened in Toronto in 2001 with financial support from the Canadian music industry. The Centre is an accessible, street-front facility providing music therapy services in-house for people of all abilities. We are in the community as well and currently have therapists in 5 long term care facilities throughout Toronto running programs funded by the Music Therapy Trust.The Centre is also home for the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund national office. Here we do the administrative work necessary to meet the needs and realities of the diverse populations we provide services for across Canada. We seek support from grants, partnerships and sponsorships and our fundraising efforts over the years have included silent auctions, motorcycle rides, marathons and benefit concerts. In the 3yrs since we launched our annual fundraising and awareness building "March for Music Therapy" - a 2km musical march from our Centre to a grand party at the Lula Lounge - we have raised over $40,000!

Every year the Music Therapy Trust awards clinical and research grants, undergrad scholarships and doctoral fellowships for music therapists and students offering innovative music therapy programs and services across Canada.

Our Programs How We Do It

Music Therapy is the skillful and creative use of music by an accredited music therapist to improve health, wellbeing and quality of life. Our therapists are accredited by the Canadian Association for Music Therapy (CAMT) and are trained to help people of all ages and abilities reach their fullest potential including those with autism, terminal illness, cerebral palsy, dementia, depression, stroke, acquired brain injury and many others.

Goals for music therapy focus on the specific need of each client and could include increasing self expression or mobility, improving communication skills or motor skills, reducing anxiety or exploring and resolving personal issues.

The Music Therapy Centre is a fully accessible clinic in Toronto that provides music therapy sessions and is supported by The Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund. It offers a broad range of programs in an intimate clinical setting for one-on-one or group music therapy sessions.

Group sessions are developed based on referral and need and range from groups for moms with toddlers born with physical disabilities, to support groups for caregivers or youth with autism. Community organizations are welcome to create groups that serve their clients and can be provided at our clinic or off-site in the community.

Individual sessions are offered to provide one-on-one support and depending on the goals of the individual, are sometimes the best option. Working privately with a therapist ensures a therapeutic relationship that is focused solely on the individual and their needs.

Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) is a form of music psychotherapy. This specialized music therapy service helps individuals to explore their consciousness through imagery experiences evoked by listening to specially recorded music programs. Our GIM therapists are Fellows of the Association for Music and Imagery. 

Funding All CMTTF programs and services are funded soley by donor dollars including corporate sponsors and granting bodies. Music therapy is not covered by any federal or provinical benefits. 

Since 2001, the Music Therapy Centre has continued to grow and fund in-house programs to a wide variety of underserviced people. Approximately 240 hours per year are designated for group therapy sessions for people with physical and cognitive disabilities, Down syndrome, autism and post-polio syndrome. Approximately 600 hours per year are designated for individual therapy sessions. In addition, there are currently music therapists in 5 long-term care facilities providing music therapy to approximately 100 people per week.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"The combination of lack of shelter or unstable housing, mental illness, addictions and poverty create a perfect storm of serious illness and early death for Toronto's marginalized: The poorest 20% of Canadians (compared to the wealthiest 20%) have more than double the rate of diabetes and heart disease, and a 60% higher rate of suffering from two or more chronic diseases."  (Toronto’s Vital Signs®, 2012)

"Health equity and access to the determinants of health are prerequisites for a healthy and vibrant community. We need to ensure equal opportunities for health and well-being for all residents of Toronto, especially those who are most vulnerable and marginalized." --Caroline Berinstein, Manager, Access and Equity, Canadian Mental Health Association - Toronto Branch

Because of funding from the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund, time and time again, we have been privileged to witness little miracles like Wayne's story at the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured (ARBI). With further support we would continue to develop new music therapy programs that would reach even more individuals in our community who have suffered from stroke and brain injury.  -Judy Stawynychko, Executive Director of ARBI.  

Wayne was an active 40 year old guy with a busy life, balancing a construction job he loved, a daughter he adored and good, close friends. His life changed suddenly when he sustained a head injury at work leaving him unable to walk or talk. His teenage daughter felt lost and didn't know how to communicate with this new dad.

Brain injury can strip away your ability to connect with those you love. Wayne became a client of the Association for the Rehabilitation of the Brain Injured (ARBI) where he and his daughter started in a music therapy program. The intentional use of music has the capacity to increase the motivation and focus of a client to work towards a goal.

Song after song, Wayne was able to hold his head up much longer than his usual 3 minute threshold and his eyes changed, they actually twinkled, as he held his daughter's gaze in his own. Reconnecting like this was a huge first step for both Wayne and his daughter.

March for Music ThrapyWhat You Can Do

Making a financial contribution to the Music Therapy Trust is the simplest and most effective way you can help us fund more music therapy in Canada, but there are lots of options! 

For Corporations, partnering with and supporting the Music Therapy Trust is a good idea and a good investment. You can support us through sponsorships or donations, depending on the right fit for you.Our clients are incredibly diverse and likely close to your cause of choice! Music therapy supports children, youth, adults and seniors living with many challenges including physical disabilities, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and more. Talk to us about supporting music therapy initiatives that are most aligned with your philanthropic goals.


We need your help running the Music Therapy Trust fundraising events and to help amplify the fundraising power of our team. Raise FundsRunning your own event or club and looking for a charity to support? The Music Therapy Trust is a grateful and fitting beneficiary of the funds you are raising in your community.  

Be an Ambassador

Channel your passion for music into serving as a Music Therapy Trust ambassador. Join our growing band of supporters and participate in our annual March for Music Therapy every March for Music Therapy Awareness Month, host benefit concerts or donate a percentage of ticket sales. Become an ambassador by spreading the word about music therapy and the Music Therapy Trust Fund. You will help move others in ways you never thought possible.

“I had the opportunity to see music therapy in action and was amazed to see the connection forged by music between a young girl with a brain injury, Sabrina, and her music therapist. I support the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund because I think all kids in need deserve a chance to be empowered like Sabrina.”

TYLER STEWART, Barenaked Ladies

Funding will keep the Centre open and operating to capacity, providing affordable music therapy sessions for individuals regardless of financial need. It means maintaining and building our national grant program and dedicating funds yearly to high quality research projects. It means reaching out with public relations projects to let more people know about music therapy. There is so much potential for this work and so many people who could benefit. If we can succeed in spreading the word, we would not only help keep our own doors open, but we pave the way for music therapy programs to emerge in other settings as well.

Building the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund today has the potential to change the face of healthcare tomorrow.



Christine Lever
Charitable Number: 885510008RR0001

Finance & Governance

Annual Operating Budget: 
$ 295,000


Join the Conversation