Online World Congress of Music Therapy - The Polyrhythms of Music Therapy

As you are aware, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the in-person World Congress of Music Therapy is converting to an online congress which will take place on 7 and 8 July 2020.

The theme, Polyrhythms of Music Therapy, remains integral to the congress programme and is expressed through a diverse range of programme offerings representative of the global music therapy community. Various forms of music therapy practice from across the world will be showcased.

Two daily spotlight sessions and a student seminar will also be featured as highlights of the programme, each providing a virtual interactive experience. Several of the previously billed pre-congress seminars will now be integrated into the main congress programme.

The cancellation of the congress comes with many challenges given the global crisis we face. We are aware that the Covid-19 pandemic is impacting everyone financially and we have thus substantially reduced the rate for the online congress.

Important to note is that registration for the online congress entitles you to have access to ALL the presentations for a month after the congress.

Please see the Categories for Registration Tab for more information regarding fees.

Online Registration for NEW registrations opens 8 April 2020.

Those who have already registered and paid for the congress will automatically have their registration converted to an online registration at the reduced rate. All delegates who registered for the in-person event will receive an emailing detailing the registration conversion and reimbursement information.

We invite you to be a part of this exciting event as the global community of music therapists gather to celebrate the profession in this novel way.  During this surreal season of physical distancing, isolation and not-knowing, may we remain committed to connection, sharing, listening and supporting.


From the beginning of time, Africa has moved to the rhythms and sounds that gave birth to civilisation. The cradle of humankind pulsates with the music of life and life on the continent is inextricably tied to music. From marking life events such as birth and death and the celebration of marriage, to teaching our little ones to count and competing against each other in sports events, music is the golden thread of continuity in our lives. The polyrhythms of Africa hold a diversity of music, expression and possibility.

We are proud to inform you that the World Congress of Music Therapy is being hosted online supported by the University of Pretoria on 7 and 8 July, 2020. The World Congress is held every three years in different elected countries, in partnership with the World Federation of Music Therapy. The year 2020 signals 21 years of the Master's Music Therapy training at the University of Pretoria, and 26 years of music therapy in South Africa, with its early beginnings at the University of Cape Town. The theme for the congress is The Polyrhythms of Music Therapy.

We invite you to explore the polyrhythms of Music Therapy as you join us for the 2020 online World Congress of Music Therapy. We invite music therapists from around the world to experience the richness, diversity, resources and depths of Africa!

As the current President of the WFMT, I want to thank the SAMTA for organizing the 16th World Congress of Music Therapy in partnership with the WFMT, University of Pretoria, MusicWorks and the Tshwane School of Music.

What a wonderful opportunity for music therapists, health care professionals, musicians, students, researchers and educators to share their work and contribute the development of Music Therapy. The SAMTA is working hard to prepare an outstanding and dynamic event which will feature exciting spotlight educational sessions, pre-conference seminars, presentations, symposia and workshops along with special cultural events. I am encouraging all of you to attend.

The congress theme is “The Polyrhythms of Music Therapy”. Through this theme, the intention of the congress is to

  • Honour diversity
  • Promote decolonisation
  • Value debate and difference
  • Recognise and strengthen resources and resilience
  • Hear silenced voices, and invite new voices
  • Grow music therapy with consideration for context, and
  • Champion relevant social issues

This will be the first time since the formation of the WFMT that the international congress will take place in Africa. The WFMT officers are also committed to work with the SAMTA in planning the culturally diverse scientific program and event. What a unique opportunity. So, start making your travel plans today!

We invite music therapists as well as arts therapists, allied health professionals, educators and community arts practitioners to submit proposals.  It is our hope and desire that music therapists from throughout the world will present on research and practice showcasing the diversity of our field in various contexts. 

Melissa Mercadal-Brotons, PhD, MT-BC, SMTAE
President WFMT

On behalf of  SAMTA, the University of Pretoria, MusicWorks and the Tshwane School of Music I warmly invite you to attend the 16th World Congress of Music Therapy to be hosted for the first time ever on the Continent of Africa. 

The congress theme, Polyrhythms of Music Therapy, acknowledges the diversity of music therapy practice throughout the world. We thus invite music therapists from all corners of the globe to attend the congress and to share your work in the form of presentations, posters, workshops and round table presentations. 

We also invite community art practitioners, arts therapists, health professionals and educators to attend and present work which may enrich and inform the work of music therapy. 

A special invitation goes out to students. We encourage you to attend and share the work you are doing in your training placements.

It is our privilege to host you at the 16th World Congress of Music Therapy and we look forward to dialogue, sharing, networking and celebrating.

Woza Africa!
Dr. Carol Lotter
Congress organizer

It is a tremendous pleasure and honour to host the 16thWorld Congress of Music Therapy. Since the reconstitution of the South African Music Therapy Association (SAMTA) in 2012, it seemed a far-off dream that we would ever host the World Congress of Music Therapy (WCMT). A mere eight years later, the SAMTA has become a strong network of professionals working in various provinces across the country, with the common aim of promoting and supporting the Music Therapy profession in the South African context. As a key stakeholder alongside the University of Pretoria, the Tshwane School of Music, and MusicWorks in Cape Town, we are excited to host the 16th iteration of this prestigious event.

This WCMT event intends to provide a rich platform for bringing together, exploring, learning about and coming to a greater understanding of the Music Therapy polyrhythms of our different continents. Partake first-hand as arts therapists, allied health professionals, educators and community arts practitioners from around the world share ideas, experiences, trends, and research outcomes. 

We encourage each and every one of you to lay hold of this opportunity to grow and connect with other experts. We look forward to welcoming you at the 2020 WCMT!


Mrs Ilse van Niekerk
Chairperson SAMTA


Latest featured news
No news found.