The first seeds of Norwegian music therapy were planted in the 1950s, followed by a growing interest and emerging practice in the 1960s, mainly in the field of special education. The Norwegian Music Therapy Association and the first training course were established in the 1970s. Since then, there has been extensive development, with increase in the areas of practice, the establishment of two equally rated training programs in music therapy and a strong emphasize on research. In 2010 there are about 400 trained music therapists in Norway, with 20 or more new candidates trained every year.
The Norwegian Music Therapy Association is an associate of the Norwegian Council of Music. This exemplifies Norwegian music therapy’s strong relationship to music as cultural expression. The music therapists who have wished to join a trade union in Norway most commonly have chosen to become members of the Norwegian Musicians’ Union, which has a section for music therapists. Due to the strong tradition of music therapy in special education in this country, “Music therapist” was acknowledged as a professional title in the state-funded resource centers for special education in 1992. More recently the interest for music therapy within the health services has increased rapidly. Therefore, in the spring 2010 an application was sent to the Norwegian Directorate of Health, requesting state registration (authorization) of music therapists in the health services. The answer to this request is probably to be clarified within the next year.
The first Norwegian training program in music therapy was established in 1978 in Oslo, the capital of the nation. This program is now located in the Norwegian Academy of Music. A branch of the training program was established in 1988, in Sandane, a rural town in Western Norway. Today there are two equivalent and independent training programs. In 2006, the training previously situated in Sandane moved to Bergen, the second largest city of the country, and is now integrated in the Grieg Academy at the University of Bergen. Both music therapy programs are at a Master’s level (300 ECTS). The University of Bergen establishes an Integrated Master (five years) in music therapy in 2010 and is therefore currently expanding the music therapy faculty and the research activity. The music therapy training in Oslo constitutes one year of study of Music and Health (60 ECTS) on top of an undergraduate degree (120 ECTS). After the course in Music and Health the students do two years of full time training to complete the Master’s level (120 ECTS). Both institutions offer possibilities for PhD-training in music therapy.
The two training programs both emphasize research documentation and theoretical reflection, combined with values that focus upon client participation, empowerment and an orientation towards strengths and resources. The curricula include subjects in music, psychology, and music therapy. Clinical practice (internship) and self-experience are important aspects of the learning experience. There is a much stronger emphasis on research methodology and the philosophy of science in the current curriculum than in the initial phase of music therapy training in Norway, which is one of the reasons why the length of programs has increased. The students need time for musical and clinical development. The training courses are directed towards a broad range of music therapy practices, both in health care contexts, school contexts, in community contexts, and in rehabilitation.
The Norwegian tradition of music therapy is deeply rooted in humanistic values informed by social perspectives (Ruud, 1998, 2010). This is embedded in the theoretical basis and clinical practice of Norwegian music therapy, with a focus upon how music – as appropriated by the client within her context – affords possibilities of action (Stige, 2002; Trondalen & Ruud, 2008). Client participation, resource-orientation (Rolvsjord, 2004; 2010) and a focus upon the interpersonal musical relationship (Trondalen, 2008, in press-b; Garred, 2002, 2006) are strongly connected to the Norwegian music therapy tradition. Such an approach seems to be relevant to a wide range of group of clients, not least in community-oriented practices (Aasgaard, 2002; Stige, 2003; Stige et al, 2010).There has also been a strong integration of developmentally- informed theories (e.g. Stern, 1985/2000; Malloch & Trevarthen, 2008) in Norwegian music therapy, informing the understanding of the relational processes both in clinical contexts and in community contexts. Although both training programs are located in music academies, the theoretical basis is broad and interdisciplinary, informed both by the social sciences, psychology, medicine, and musicology.
The early development of Norwegian music therapy practice was to a large degree linked to special education and inspired by the approach developed by Nordoff and Robbins, with emphasis on clinical improvisation, songs, music activities, and musical plays (Nordoff and Robbins, 1971/83, 1977). Over the years, a much broader range of approaches have been adapted, in relation to various areas of practice. One example of this broader way of working could be the rock band approach that today characterizes Norwegian music therapists’ work in rehabilitation of offenders.
Norwegian music therapists are trained to emphasize human development, health related issues and cultural sensitivity. Accordingly, the use of music as a health resource does include a relational approach sensitive to the client’s personality, her personal needs, and the cultural context in a broader sense. Expressive methods in clinical practice have also been supplemented by receptive approaches, such as The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (Aksnes & Ruud, 2008; Trondalen, in press-a).
As mentioned above, in the early years of music therapy practice most Norwegian music therapist were employed within special education (Ruud, 1990; Stensæth, 2008). A large portion of the music therapists in the country still work in this field, in various pre-school settings, in primary and secondary schools, and even in high schools and education for adults. Many music therapists also work in community music schools. The educational practices cover a broad range of developmental, psychological, and social goals (Hodne, 2008).
Gradually there has also been a turn towards increased practice within hospitals and other health services. Trygve Aasgaard (2002) has been a pioneer in this field in Norway. Two areas that are currently expanding are music therapy in mental health care (Rolvsjord, 2004, 2010; Solli, 2008; Trondalen, in press-b) and music therapy with the elderly (Kvamme, 2008; Myskja, 2008).
Community music therapy is a strong tradition in Norway and integrated as a dimension of most areas of practice, for instance in rehabilitation of offenders (Nielsen, 1996; Tuastad & Finsaas, 2008) and in children’s welfare (Krüger, 2007). Recently, Norwegian music therapists have been involved in various music and health projects in refugee camps (Storsve, Westby & Ruud 2010).
There is a growing interest in theoretical research and research of clinical practice using qualitative and quantitative designs. Both institutions training music therapists have established research centers within the field and produce research about the relationship between music and health, in clinical and everyday contexts. At the University of Bergen, the researchers at The Grieg Academy Music Therapy Research Centre (GAMUT) conduct a variety of research projects, e.g. within mental health, rehabilitation of offenders, care for the elderly, neurorehabilitation, and community contexts. The researchers at the Centre for Music and Health at the Norwegian Academy of Music carry out e.g. exploratory studies within mental health care, research on musicians and health and music as a resource in everyday life.
Both the Norwegian Academy of Music and the University of Bergen are members of the International Consortium of Nine Universities with Doctoral/ Research Programs in Music Therapy. The consortium members collaborate on developing international research projects, international benchmarking in the evaluation of proposals, ethical procedures, supervision and examination of theses, research training, and supervision.
Both institutions are connected to the Erasmus Programme (European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) and are consecutively exchanging teachers, supervision and external examination in music therapy with other training programs.
The Nordic Network of Research in Music, Culture, and Health (MUCH) was founded in January 2010 and aims at bringing together different strands of Nordic based research in the field of music, culture and health.
The first Nordic Conference in music therapy took place in Sandane in 1991. Since then national and Nordic conferences have been arranged in Oslo and Bergen. The next European Music Therapy Congress will be hosted in Oslo in 2013, in collaboration with the European Music Therapy Confederation (EMTC).
Two international peer reviewed music therapy journals are published from Norway: Nordic Journal of Music Therapy and Voices. Both journals have their home in GAMUT, Bergen, and are based upon strong international networks of academic collaboration.
The Norwegian Music Therapy Association has its own peer-reviewed journal, named Musikkterapi. Articles in this journal are published in Norwegian and the journal thus serves the important function of enabling Norwegian music therapists to develop an academic understanding of the discipline and profession in their own mother tongue.
In addition to these three journals, there is a fourth venue of music therapy publication in Norway, namely the peer- reviewed series from the Centre for Music and Health in Oslo. This centre at The Norwegian Academy of Music also produces a Newsletter with presentation of health promotional and therapeutic use of music.
Culture, creativity, and critique would be key words in a précis describing Norwegian music therapy. Since the very beginning, music therapy’s relationship to culture and society has been a major concern. Individual creativity – as explored in improvisational practices – has been highly valued also. Positive and negative relationships between culture and creativity could be described, and it has been a continuous effort among Norwegian music therapists to articulate such relationships theoretically, so that a constructive and reflexive critique of practice and research could be nurtured.
The major pioneer of this tradition has been Even Ruud, and we find it appropriate to articulate our appreciation of his pioneering work. International readers will know about his many books and articles. As Norwegian music therapists we have also experienced his generous capacity to nurture a culture of creativity and critique. His support of both institutions training music therapists in Norway is a telling example.
As we approach the new decade, awareness of culture, boldness of creativity, and openness for critique hopefully could characterize our engagement with music therapy education, research, and practice. Our appraisal is that there is a growing congruence between music therapy and current developments in the politics of health, education, and music. This enhances collaborations not only within our music therapy communities but within broader contexts of academic, cultural, and health related communities.
Culture, creativity, and critique: We hope that these qualities will also color the IX European Music Therapy Congress in Oslo. See you in Oslo in 2013.
 Mental health care is the official term for what previously was named psychiatry within Publications from the Norwegian Government.
 The Nordic Journal of Music Therapy (www.njmt.no) was founded in 1992 and is currently published in collaboration with Routledge (Taylor & Francis). In the Norwegian system, this journal has the highest ranking among scientific journals
 Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy (www.voices.no) was founded in 2001. It is an Open Access Journal. A double blind peer review process was established in 2009 and the journal now publishes more research articles than previously, but the openness for other genres such as essays, stories, and interviews is maintained.
 The Series from Centre for Music and Health (www.nmh.no/Senter_for_musikk_og_helse/skriftserie) was founded in 2008 and is published by The Norwegian Academy of Music in collaboration with UniPub. The Newletters are published by the Norwegian Academy of Music (www.nmh.no/Senter_for_musikk_og_helse/nyhetsbrev).
Aasgaard, T. (2002). Song Creations by Children with Cancer - Process and Meaning. Ph.D., Institute of Music and Music Therapy, Aalborg University, Aalborg.
Aasgaard, T. & G. Trondalen. (2004). Country of the Month - Norway. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://www.voices.no/country/monthnorway_july2004.html.
Aksnes, H. & E. Ruud. (2008). Body-based schemata in receptive music therapy. Musicae Scientae Vol. XII (1):49-74.
Bruscia, K. E. (1998). Defining Music Therapy. Second Edition ed. Lower Village: Barcelona Publishers.
Garred, R. (2002). The Ontology of Music in Music Therapy. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://www.voices.no/mainissues/Voices1(3)Garred.html, Released November 1, 2001.
Garred, R. (2006). Music as Therapy: A Dialogical Perspective. Gilsum, NH: Barceona Publishers.
Hodne, I. H. (2008). Musikkterapeutene som profesjonsgruppe i Norge [Music Therapy as a Profession in Norway]. In: G. Trondalen and E. Ruud (eds.), Perspektiver på musikk og helse. Musikkterapifaget gjennom 30 år: en antologi. Oslo: NMH publikasjoner 2008:3.
Krüger, V. (2007). Music as Narrative Technology. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://www.voices.no/mainissues/mi40007000235.php
Kvamme, T. S. (2008). Musikk for demensrammede – en livsnødvendighet? In: Trondalen G & Ruud E. (eds.). Perspektiver på musikk og helse. Oslo: NMH-publikasjoner 2008:3
Malloch, S. & C. Trevarthen. (2008). Communicative Musicality. Exploring the basis of human companionship. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Myskja, A. (2008). The Day the Music Died. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 17(1), 30-40
Nielsen, V. R. (1996). Musikk i fengsel og frihet. Nordisk Tidsskrift for musikkterapi 5 (2):111-116.
Nordoff, P., & C. Robbins (1971/83). Music Therapy in Special Education. Second Edition ed. St. Louis MO: Magnamusic-Baton.
Nordoff, P. & C. Robbins (1977). Creative Music Therapy. Individual Treatment for the Handicapped Child. New York: John Day.
Rolvsjord, R. (2004). Therapy as Empowerment. Clinical and Political Implications of Empowerment Philosphy in Mental health practises of Music Therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 13 (2):99-111.
Rolvsjord, R. (2010). Resource Oriented Music Therapy in Mental Health Care. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.
Ruud, E. (1998). Music Therapy: Improvisation, Communication and Culture. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.
Ruud, E. (2010). Music Therapy. A Perspective from the Humanities. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.
Solli, H.P (2008). Shut Up and Play!” Improvisational Use of Popular Music for a Man With Schizophrenia. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 17(1), pp. 67 – 77.
Stensæth, K. (2008). Musical Answerability. A Theory on the Relationship between Music Therapy Improvisation and the Phenomenon of Action. Oslo: Norges musikkhøgskoles publikasjoner 2008:1
Stern, D. N. (1985/2000). The Interpersonal World of the Infant. A View from Psychoanalysis & Developmental Psychology: Basic Books.
Stige, B. (2002). Culture-centered Music Therapy. Gilsum NH: Barcelona Publishers.
Stige, B. (2003). Elaborations towards a Notions of Community Therapy. Doktoravhandling, Faculty of Arts, University of Oslo, Oslo.
Stige, B., Ansdell, G., Elefant, C. & Pavlicevic, M. (2010). Where Music Helps. Community Music Therapy in Action and Reflection. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Storsve, V., I. A. Westby & E. Ruud. (2010). Hope and Recognition. A Music Project among Youth in a Palestinian Refugee Camp. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 21, 2010, from http://www.voices.no/mainissues/mi4001099158.php.
Trondalen, G. (2008). Musikkterapi - et relasjonelt perspektiv. (Music Therapy - a relational perspective). In G. Trondalen & E. Ruud (Ed.), Perspektiver på musikk og helse. 30 år med norsk musikkterapi, Oslo: Norges Musikkhøgskole.
Trondalen, G. (in press-a). Exploring The Rucksack Of Sadness: Focused time-limited BMGIM with a female executive. Journal of Association for Music and Imagery.
Trondalen, G. (in press-b). Music is about feelings; Music therapy with a young man suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. In T. Meadows (Ed.), Developments in Music Therapy Practice: Case Examples, Gilsum, NH: Barcelona Publishers.
Trondalen, G. & E. Ruud, (eds.) (2008). Perspektiver på musikk og helse. 30 år med norsk musikkterapi [Persepctives on Music and Health. 30 years with Norwegian Music Therapy]: Skriftserie fra Senter for musikk og helse. Norges Musikkhøgskole. NMH-publikasjoner 2008:3. Oslo.
Tuastad, L. & Ruus Finsås, R. (2008). Jeg fremfører, altså er jeg. En studie av deltakernes opplevelser i to rockeband tilknyttet musikktilbudet "Musikk i fengsel og frihet". Master thesis, The Grieg Academy, University of Bergen.
Trondalen, Gro, Rolvsjord, Randi & Stige, Brynjulf (2010). Music Therapy in Norway – Approaching a New Decade. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=country-of-the-month/2010-music-therapy-norway-approaching-new-decade