Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting Ready for the Holidays

I hope this message finds you well and that you are keeping warm during the bitter weather.

Time certainly has a way of slipping by! My granddaughter is now nine months old, crawling everywhere, thirsty with curiosity about the world around her. It is refreshing to see the world through her eyes, where everything is new and holds endless wonder. As therapists that is part of our work, immersing ourselves in our clients' experience so that we can gain a deeper understanding of their inner worlds.

There are a number of new developments at the Nordoff-Robbins Center since I last wrote. We are involved in several research projects: one involves the development of a new research tool, the Music Therapy Communication and Social Interaction scale (MTCSI). The MTCSI is designed to measure the communication and social interaction behaviors that a child demonstrates during a music therapy session, and tracks the behavioral changes that occur over the course of music therapy with a child with developmental delays or related problems. It was developed by senior staff in collaboration with a consulting psychologist, Barbara Hummel-Rossi. We are now closer to establishing the validity of the MTCSI; research coordinator Nina Guerrero has been working with students both from the Nordoff-Robbins training program and the NYU Applied Psychology program, training them to use this new measure.

Another research project involves the development of a scale measuring well-being in music therapy and how this leads to gains in other areas, such as positive changes in how people feel about themselves and a decrease in depression, for people who have suffered a stroke. For this project we are collaborating with Dr. Preeti Raghavan from the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Medical Center. Dr. Raghavan is a practicing physiatrist specializing in neurorehabilitation. The project also investigates the ways in which a client’s improved well-being may lead to functional improvement in regaining mobility after a stroke—it measures not only emotional but also cognitive and physical areas. We are very excited with these projects and contributing to the growing body of research into the benefits of music therapy.

We are about to see the culmination of months of intensive work, as we complete the transition from videotape to digital recording. Paul and Clive had the foresight to tape their sessions when they began their work back in the 1950s, using what was available at that time, reel-to-reel tape recorders. Much of that early work has been transferred to CDs to make it available for study. Since we opened in 1990 we have been videotaping our sessions, using SVHS (Super VHS) tapes for our archives and regular VHS tapes for our working tapes, which we recycle at the end of each year. We were lucky to receive a grant which has covered the expenses involved in switching to digital recording. We have bought new cameras and computers to enable this transition. Ari Amir, our administrative assistant, has done a tremendous job overseeing this project.

On a more somber note, you may know that Clive Robbins is currently in rehab after a long illness. We would like to extend our prayers and best wishes to him for his recovery. He is greatly missed here at the Center.

We close at the end of next week for our winter break. Enjoy the holiday season, and best wishes for peace and prosperity in the New Year!