Nordoff–Robbins music therapy

The Nordoff–Robbins approach to music therapy, also known as creative music therapy, developed from the 17-year collaboration of Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins[1] beginning in 1958.[2] It was originally devised as a therapy for children with psychological, physical, or developmental disabilities.[3] Its early development was influenced by Rudolph Steiner and anthroposophical philosophy and teachings.[4] Nordoff–Robbins music therapy is grounded in the belief that everyone can respond to music, no matter how ill or disabled. It holds that the unique qualities of music as therapy can enhance communication, support change, and enable people to live more resourcefully and creatively.[1] Nordoff-Robbins music therapists practice worldwide and have graduated from training programs around the world including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, and the Far East.[5]

United Kingdom

Nordoff Robbins is a registered UK charity that receives no statutory funding. The charity runs the Nordoff Robbins music therapy centre in London and a number of music therapy outreach projects nationwide. It also runs postgraduate training courses in music therapy and a research programme with regular public courses and conferences.

Nordoff Robbins runs the annual Silver Clef Awards that raise money for the charity.[6]

United States

Founded by Dr. Clive Robbins and Carol Robbins, the Nordoff–Robbins Center for Music Therapy at New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, opened in 1989.[7] The Center is affiliated with New York University's Graduate Music Therapy Program. The mission of the Center has six main components:

  1. Providing music therapy services to children, adolescents, and adults with a wide range of needs, abilities, and disabilities including autism spectrum disorders (ASD), behavioral disorders, developmental delays, sensory impairments, multiple handicaps, and psychiatric disorders. The Center provides individual and group therapy sessions, and also provides services for adults struggling with difficult life circumstances or seeking an expressive form of therapy in order to pursue greater self-understanding.
  2. Offering advanced music therapy training. The Center offers three levels of training: a) fieldwork and internships for students pursuing academic degrees in music therapy; b) postgraduate certificate training in the Nordoff-Robbins approach; and c) continuing education courses for music therapy professionals.
  3. Conducting and publishing research. The Center maintains an extensive archive that includes recordings and documentation of the pioneering work of Nordoff and Robbins (1959–1976). The archive is continually being expanded and updated by contemporary clinical work. Ongoing research in clinical practice focuses on the role of improvisational music therapy in addressing the needs of clients with different areas of disability including autism spectrum disorder, stroke, and hearing impairment.
  4. Presenting lectures, workshops, and symposia to professional audiences. The Center's video documentation of therapy sessions makes it possible to communicate to professional audiences the nature and dynamics of the creative music therapy process. The Center's therapists and researchers lecture nationally and internationally.
  5. Publishing musical and instructional materials. The Center produces audio, video, and printed materials that provide musical resources and instruction in clinical process and improvisation.
  6. Disseminating information and resources. The Center serves as a resource for music therapists, students, musicians, allied professionals, parents, the media, and the general public. It provides consultant services, organizes seminars and workshops, and hosts over 150 visitors annually.[5][8][9]

The Nordoff–Robbins training at Molloy College, established in 2010, is the newest approved Nordoff–Robbins program in the US. It is located at The Rebecca Center for Music Therapy at Molloy College, an outpatient center serving children and adults in the Long Island and metropolitan New York area.[10]

Both training programs include all aspects of Nordoff–Robbins work including assessment, archival coursework, clinical work, group music therapy, and clinical improvisation instruction. Trainees come from both the US and abroad.


  1. ^ a b Karkou, Vassliki (2006). Arts Therapies: A Research-based Map of the Field. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 132ff. ISBN 978-0443072567.
  2. ^ Adler, Constance (February 11, 1991). "See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me". New York.
  3. ^ Nordoff, Paul; Robbins, Clive (2004). Therapy in Music for Handicapped Children. Barcelona Publishers. ISBN 978-1891278198.
  4. ^ Guerrero, Nina; Marcus, David; Turry, Alan (2014). "Nordoff–Robbins Music Therapy". In Wheeler, Barbara (ed.). Music therapy Handbook (2nd ed.). Phoenixville: Guilford. ISBN 9781462518036.
  5. ^ a b Simpson, Fraser (2009). The Nordoff-Robbins adventure : fifty years of creative music therapy. London.: James & James Publishers. ISBN 9781906507060.
  6. ^ "Coldplay Win Nordoff-Robbins Award", Clash, May 15, 2013.
  7. ^ "About the Center". Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy". New York University. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  9. ^ Simpson, Fraser (2007). Every note counts : the story of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. London: James and James. ISBN 9781903942796.
  10. ^ "The Rebecca Center for Music Therapy at Molloy College". Retrieved 1 February 2015.

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