Half a century ago in England, the Philadelphia-born musician Paul Nordoff—a conservatory-trained pianist who’d composed music for Martha Graham ballets and taught at Bard College—sat down to play for an unlikely audience: a little boy named Johnny who was thought to be unreachable. Apparently cut off from the world by what today we would call autism spectrum disorder, Johnny lived at the Sunfield School, a residence for children with special learning and behavioral needs, where his teachers struggled to connect with him. He didn’t speak, respond when addressed, show any interest in communicating with other people, or express emotion of any kind—except, his caretakers said, for when he was in bed at night and could sometimes be heard making whimpering sounds. But when Nordoff began to play—first the pleasant, carefree tones of the dreamlike pentatonic scale, and then, eventually, more plaintive, dissonant sounds, something changed.
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Music therapists from across the globe came together at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul on Tuesday for the opening day of the 13th World Congress of Music Therapy. Dr. Alan Turry discussed musical improvisation techniques, which he demonstrated to the audience while saying that they are mainly used in treatment for children with autism.
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The Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation has just launched its first e-newsletter, www.nordoff-robbinsfoundation.org/newsletter. There are articles by Dr. Clive Robbins, a new blog by Jacqueline Birnbaum, and up-to-date information about our activities. To receive the newsletter, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On January 9, 2009 Nordoff-Robbins music therapists Jacqueline Birnbaum and Nina Guererro were guests on Sirius XM Radio's Doctor Radio show, "About Our Kids." Doctor Radio broadcasts on Sirius 114 & XM 119 from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST. The program was hosted by Alexandra Barzvi and Dr. Jerome Bubrick from the NYU Child Study Center. Topics discussed included the Nordoff-Robbins approach to music therapy, how music therapy helps children with autism and other disorders, and the research the Center is doing on children with autism spectrum disorders.
Dr. Clive Robbins Wins AMTA Presidential Award
Dr. Clive Robbins, founding director of NYU Steinhardt's Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy, was awarded the American Music Therapy Association's Presidential Award at this year's conference in Louisville, Kentucky. The award honored Dr. Robbins' lifelong clinical work and research in the field of music therapy. For a complete bio of Dr. Robbins, click here.
At the 2007 conference, Dr. Alan Turry, managing director of the Center, discussed his research as part of the Music Therapy Innovator Series. Michele Ritholz, senior music therapist, organized a well-attended training institute dedicated to the Nordoff-Robbins approach with contributions from Center staff. Among the highlights of the conference was a clinical case presentation by Jacqueline Birnbaum describing her music therapy work with a young girl who was adopted from China.
Following the nomination of Clive Robbins as one of Therapy Times' 2007 most influential therapists, Nordoff-Robbins certified music therapist Rick Soshensky has just been named one of Therapy Times' 2008 most influential therapists. (Therapy Times) As a board-certified music therapist with 16 years of experience, Rick has worked with clients with developmental disabilities, emotional/behavioral disturbances, and traumatic brain injury. He is currently director of the Fine & Performing Arts Department of the Northeast Center for Special Care (NCSC) in Lake Katrine, N.Y. Rick was among the first therapists to complete his Nordoff-Robbins Certification on guitar.
Beatles HELP! Flag, DVD set, and VIP Tour of Abbey Road Studios, London to benefit the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Center!
November 6, 2007 - For the next 10 days, eyes raised to the skies above Los Angeles' famous crossing of Hollywood & Vine will see something new and unusual: a giant, one-of-a-kind Beatles flag flying high atop the landmark Capitol Records tower. The unique, 12-foot by 18-foot flag was raised by Ringo Starr at 12pm PST today. The world's only official Beatles flag will remain raised above Capitol Records until next Friday, November 16 to celebrate today's release by Apple Corps Ltd./EMI of The Beatles' classic 1965 film 'Help!' on DVD, digitally restored with a newly created 5.1 soundtrack.
A charitable auction, benefiting The Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation, launches on eBay today at 3pm PST. The auction lot includes the ‘Help!' flag, bearing the classic artwork of The Beatles' 1965 movie, a luxurious trip for two to London, England and a deluxe, limited edition ‘Help!' DVD boxed set. Beatles fans around the world can place bids now until 3pm PST on November 16, 2007, when the listing ends. All bidders will be pre-qualified through Kompolt Online Auction Agency (www.kompolt.com).
In addition to becoming the proud owner of the unique flag, accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity personally signed by Ringo Starr, and a limited edition ‘Help!' boxed set, the charity auction's top bidder and a guest will enjoy a special VIP tour of world-famous Abbey Road Studios while on holiday in London.
Autism Speaks to Wall Street: A Celebrity Chef Gala
On October 24, 2007 hundreds of guests gathered at Capitale in New York City, where culinary luminaries such as Christian Albin; Franklin Becker; Terrance Brennan; Andrew Carmellini; Wylie Dufresne; Eric Ripert; Aaron Sanchez; Guenter Seeger; David Waltuck; and Geoffery Zakarian cooked tableside in a spectacular evening of food and good will. The event raised 1.1 million dollars for the research, awareness and advocacy initiatives of Autism Speaks and a portion of the proceeds
will go directly to the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Center at New York University, for their continued work in treating children with autism and other severe physical, intellectual and emotional disabilities.
Clive Robbins Nominated "Most Influential" by Therapy Times
Therapy Times, an online resource for the therapy industry, has nominated Clive Robbins, founding director of NYU's Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy, for its annual list of the most influential clinicians, researchers, and leaders of the therapy community.
Celebration of Renewed Support
On Thursday, September 28, 2006, Dean Mary Brabeck celebrated the recent commitment of support by the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation UK to the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy/NYU. The vital support provided by the UK foundation will allow the Center to continue its multi-faceted mission, comprising a wide range of services through treatment, training and research programs. Great appreciation goes out to Sam Alder, Chair of Governors, Nordoff-Robbins Centre, UK and Pauline Etkin, Managing Director, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Centre, UK for assisting the Center in this way.
From left to right: Pauline Etkin, Dean Mary Brabeck, Steinhardt School, NYU; Clive Robbins, Founding Director, Nordoff-Robbins Center, New York; Sam Alder
“For The Kids” Celebrity Chefs Tasting Dinner
On October 30, 2006 the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation and Autism Speaks held “For the Kids,” a Celebrity Chefs’ Tasting Dinner and Auction at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City. This was a terrific event filled with energy, enthusiasm and great food! Many thanks to Franklin Becker, Adam Ritholz, Sunny Ralfini, Bob & Suzanne Wright and the entire Nordoff-Robbins Fundraising committee for their dedication and generosity.
Florence Tyson Fund Grant
On October 27, 2006 The Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy became the first recipient of a Florence Tyson Fund grant. This generous donation will support music therapy with adults with psychiatric issues. The Florence Tyson Fund for Creative Arts Therapies was established in 2004 to continue the work of Florence Tyson, a world-renowned music therapist and a pioneer in the field of community-based creative arts therapy. (For more information: http://www.tysonfund.org) We are grateful for the support, which will allow us to continue our work with the same clientele seen with such care at the former renowned Creative Arts Rehabilitation Center.
Front row, left to right: Michele Ritholz, Jacqueline Birnbaum, Christopher Bandini; Back row, right to left: Joan Winer Brown, Professor Barbara Hesser, Dr. Clive Robbins, Saul Lishinsky, John Mahoney & Dr. Alan Turry