Welcome to the Nordoff-Robbins Center blog! I will be writing about happenings at the Center to keep you up-to-date. For those of you who don’t know me, I was on the first training course here at the Center in 1990. We are now in our 19th year! I am currently the Administrative Coordinator and a Senior Therapist. I wear many hats here, serving as a teacher and supervisor as well as an administrator and clinician.
Our clinical program is thriving. This year we are continuing our collaboration with the Board of Education: three mornings a week different groups of children come to the Center by bus for their music therapy sessions. We see children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), children with multiple handicaps, and children with hearing impairments (many with cochlear implants). Our program for clients in AHRC programs is also continuing two mornings a week. These adults with developmental delays look forward to their music-making each week.
New this year is a program for seniors from the Hamilton-Madison House in Chinatown. Group members speak Cantonese, and sessions are co-led by senior therapist Michele Ritholz and Jenny Hoi Yan Fu, a music therapist and Nordoff-Robbins advanced trainee from Hong Kong. While sessions include the singing of cherished songs chosen by the members, our program emphasizes the value of musical improvisation to enhance socialization and expression.
We continue to see many other clients of all ages, in both individual and group sessions, throughout the week. Though the Center is small with respect to space, it is enormous in its energy and its heart.
The Center is currently involved in an exciting research effort: we are developing a scale to measure communication and social interaction in children with developmental disabilities (including autism) within a music therapy context. This is the first scale of its kind, and is now being field-tested at TOTS Preschool in the Bronx. Though we know that music therapy “works,” many funding decisions are based on available research. We are trying to do our part to fill the research gap.
Just before Thanksgiving, many of us traveled to St. Louis for the annual conference of the American Music Therapy Association. I helped staff the Nordoff-Robbins booth in the Exhibit Hall, talking with students and professionals who want to learn more about our approach and our programs. Nordoff-Robbins is held in such high esteem in the music therapy world, as people associate us with creativity, improvisation, and impressive clinical work.
As an Assembly Delegate from the Mid-Atlantic Region, I attend many meetings where policy for our organization is made. That doesn’t leave me much time to attend many presentations, but I went to as many as I could—it’s always interesting, and often inspiring, to see what music therapists from around the country are doing. I attended sessions on cross-cultural issues, improvisation, research, and children’s spontaneous musical notations. It was also fun to re-connect with old friends and to feel part of a vibrant community of 1200 music therapists!
I welcome responses to this blog from anyone with an interest in music therapy. Whether you are a creative arts therapist, parent of a special needs child, recipient of music therapy, or a person interested in the amazing healing power of music, please share your questions, thoughts and concerns.
Peace and Harmony,