We warmly welcome you to the 1st International Children’s Music Therapy Conference on June 14–16, 2021! The theme of the conference is Health for Children with Music.
The New Children's Hospital in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, has given us inspiration to invite students, researchers and professionals worldwide to talk about the potential of music therapy as a contributor to the mental and somatic recovery of children.
The New Children's Hospital was opened in September 2018 and was selected as the winner of the 2018 Finlandia Prize for Architecture. The New Children’s Hospital is highlighting a pleasant environment for child patients and their parents with transparency and colorfulness.
Finns have always expressed themselves with music. The Kalevala (1835), our national epic, is one of the cornerstones of Finnish literature. It consists of folk poetry collected by Elias Lönnrot from singers who either had grown up with these songs or had learnt them in adulthood. Playing the kantele, singing contests and runo singers have a significant role in The Kalevala. Most importantly, this epic has mediated to us the runo singing, a tradition in which the poems follow certain basic metrical and musical patterns.
Various types of music created by children have also been an important element in the Finnish tradition of folk music and a rich topic for research. In its Kalevala Yearbook in 1938, The Kalevala Society reports on early children’s songs. Their themes vary: children’s everyday observations, shouts with which they call their parents and loved ones, and ideas developing in their own minds.

This time in the history of music therapy conferences, the focus will be only on children’s music therapy. We wish to increase knowledge about music therapy for children across professional boundaries in practice, as we are encouraged by the results gained so far.
The first conference day, Tuesday 15th, is dedicated to music therapy in pediatrics (children aged 0–15); the second day, Wednesday 16th, deals with music therapy in child psychiatry (children aged 0–12). We will announce even more information about the International Music Therapy Week in June 2021, soon.​

On behalf of the organizing committee I hope that this dialogue between the beautiful New Children’s Hospital and the long human tradition of expressing thoughts and emotions with music will result in an inspiring and rewarding conference.
Hanna Hakomäki
Chair of the First Children's Music Therapy Conference
PhD Music Therapist, Family and Couple Psychotherapist, Supervisor
HUS Helsinki University Hospital, Child Psychiatry
Hanna ULS ok.jpg

I cordially welcome you all to Helsinki, to the first international children’s music therapy congress!
The congress is organized in collaboration with Helsinki University Hospital, Child Psychiatry and University of Jyväskylä and held in the context of the New Children’s Hospital, which offers advanced level treatments and expertise and serves the needs of the whole country. Needless to say, the New Children’s Hospital is a perfect place for children’s music therapy congress!
The history of professional music therapy in Finland starts from 1970s and this time, almost 50 years, has been a time of dynamic and active development of clinical training, research and practice. Unlike other creative therapies in Finland, music therapy has been an academic discipline right from the beginning and this, for one’s part, has speeded up the development of the profession. Before the children’s music therapy congress, we have organized Nordic Music Therapy congresses (1997 and 2012 – and, 2021 again!), and European Music Therapy congress (2004) and we hope to meet many of the attendants of these events in Helsinki at the same time as we welcome new people. We look forward to hear and share the latest about children’s music therapy research and clinical applications. We also wish that this congress is a place where new openings for international collaboration may take place.
Children have always been in the focus of music therapy including a wide range of different disabilities such as developmental, neurological, behavioral and emotional disorders. Music offers a non-verbal form of expression and interaction and, thus, makes meaningful communication possible even in a situation where verbal communication is not possible. In addition to being emotionally meaningful, music has bodily dimensions and meanings as well – sometimes called as embodied musical cognition. With appropriate music therapy methods and techniques, a meaningful communication can be achieved even with a child with severe retardation. From this perspective, it is logical that early interaction theories have an important role in music therapy literature explaining the specific music related mechanisms and meanings.
Music therapy offers many possibilities in children’s hospital environment. Children suffering from various medical conditions and receiving demanding and sometimes even painful treatments easily develop stress and anxiety and just in these situations, music therapy has shown its potential and power. However, availability of music therapy in medical hospital context is not a self-evident truth and, in this respect, room for development exists. There is also lack of knowledge of the benefits of music therapy among medical staff and perhaps prejudices occur. We hope that this congress offers a productive platform where good practices and approaches can be shared in order to improve the role of music therapy in children’s hospital context.
Jaakko Erkkilä
Co-chair of the First Children’s Music Therapy Conference
University of Jyväskylä