Staff Bios

Jacqueline Birnbaum, MSEd, MA, MT-BC, LCAT, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapist, Administrative Coordinator/Senior Music Therapist

Ms. Birnbaum graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and went on to earn a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education. After several years as a teacher, she began graduate work in music therapy, completing her degree at NYU in 1981. Her work experience has been quite varied. At the Detroit Community Music School she led group and individual sessions with children and developmentally-delayed adults, and carried out a grant project with geriatric clients in area nursing homes. She returned to her native New York City in 1985 to establish a music therapy program for children ages three to eight at the School for Language and Communication Development on Long Island.

In 1990 Jacqueline joined the first advanced training course in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy to be offered in the United States and received her certification in 1991. In 1993 she developed a music therapy program at the Parkside School, a special education program for children with speech and language, learning, and emotional difficulties. her particular area of interest is early childhood and she has presented on the use of Creative Music Therapy in early intervention at several music therapy conferences. She has been a member and Chairperson of the Credentialing Committee of the American Association for Music Therapy. In 1996, she assumed her current position at the Nordoff-Robbins Center where her responsibilities include clinical work, supervision of fieldwork students and certification candidates, programming and the day-to-day operations of the Center.

Professor Barbara Hesser

Professor Barbara Hesser is Director of the Music Therapy program at New York University. In this capacity, she coordinates the Masters of Arts Program, is the Director of the Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Center, and is the program liaison for the Guided Imagery and Music (GIM) Training. She has given courses, workshops and lectures in many countries throughout the world. Professionally, Professor Hesser served the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT) as President, Vice President, Co Chairman of the Education and Training Committee, Editor of the first AAMT Journal Music Therapy and as a member of the Editorial Board of that journal for 15 years. She was also a member of the Commission on Education and Training for the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). She is one of nine international founders of the World Federation of Music Therapy (WFMT) and has served as its Publicity Chairman. Among her publications, she has co authored the "Essential Competencies for the Practice of Music Therapy", which have been used by the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT), the Canadian Association of Music Therapy (CAMT) and now the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) as a document for standards of certification, education and training in the profession. Professor Hesser maintains a music therapy private practice, and is a Fellow and Trainer in Guided Imagery and Music (GIM). 

Jenny Fu, M.A., MT-BC, LCAT, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapist, Certified Advanced Vocal Therapist, Music Therapist

Jenny was inspired to be a music therapist long before her journey to America. She has studied classical piano since she was eight and won several singing competitions in Hong Kong Schools Music Festivals. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley she earned her Master of Arts degree in Music Therapy from New York University. She went on to pursue her post-graduate training in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and received her Nordoff-Robbins Level II Certification in 2009. She is also a Certified Advanced Vocal Psychotherapist.



Michele Schnur Ritholz, MA, MT-BC, LCAT, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapist, Training Coordinator,Senior Music Therapist

Ms. Ritholz graduated with Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Queens College. While renewing her study of music, and piano in particular, Michele began to learn about the field of music therapy. After attending a workshop with Vera Moretti at the State University of New York New Paltz, in which the work of Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins was taught and then experienced in the clinical setting, Ms. Ritholz was inspired to pursue a career in music therapy. First gaining further competency by completing a second major in music at Queens College, she then undertook graduate work in Music Therapy at New York University, completing a Masters Degree in 1981. Michele has worked with children ages 5–12 in the Latency Unit at Kings County Psychiatric hospital, Brooklyn, New York and in special education settings for the Westchester Conservatory of Music Outreach Program (COMIT).

In 1990, Michele undertook the first Nordoff-Robbins training at the NYU Center, joining the clinical staff at that time. She has been at the Center since then and is currently a full-time therapist, Coordinator of Training, instructor in the Center's training programs and supervisor of graduate interns and certification candidates.She is the second certified Instructor of the Nordoff-Robbins approach in the United States.Her publications include "The Primacy of Music and Musical Resources in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy" 
in Music Therapy Perspectives, 2014 32 (1): 8-17;  music written for Snow White: A Guide to Child-Centered Musical Theater (1997); Themes for Therapy: New Songs and Instrumental Pieces from the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy (Carl Fisher, Inc.);  More Themes for Therapy: 45 New Songs and Instrumental Pieces (Carl Fisher, Inc.), and the journal article "The Journey by Train: Creative Music Therapy with a 17-Year-Old Boy", co-authored with Alan Turry and published in Music Therapy. Michele is a Trustee of the International Trust for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. Her professional activities have included being a member of the AAMT Credentialing Committee, transition Representative on the Clinical Training Committee of the American Music Therapy Association, and past member of the Board of Directors of the Certification Board for Music Therapy (CBMT) and Autism Task Force of the American Music Therapy Association.

Alan Turry, DA, MT-BC, LCAT, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapist, Managing Director


Dr. Alan Turry is a research scientist at NYU Steinhardt and the Managing Director of the Nordoff-Robbins Center for music therapy.

Dr Turry is the Principal Investigator on key research projects being conducted at Nordoff-Robbins.  In 2012 he was the recipient of the Arthur Flagler Fultz Research Award, given by the American Music Therapy Association to support the collaboration being undertaken by the Center with Rusk Rehabilitation Institute at NYU Medical Center to develop and research an integrated music therapy/occupational therapy stroke rehabilitation program. This grant augments support originally provided by the Steinhardt Office of Research Faculty challenge grants awarded to Dr. Turry in 2011.

Dr. Turry is leading the NYU arm of a collaboration with researchers from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary to study the effects of music therapy on perception of the various elements of music perception in pre-lingually deafened children with cochlear implants. Speech gains related to musical development are a key outcome of this funded study.

In collaboration with These Our Treasures School (TOTS) in the southeast Bronx, Dr Turry is conducting ongoing research of the effects of Nordoff-Robbins music therapy on the development of communication and social interaction skills in young children with developmental disabilities. Promising preliminary results were recently published in a chapter co-authored by Dr. Turry in Early Childhood Music Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Dr Turry received an Arts and Culture challenge Grant award to support this research.

Dr. Turry joined the NR clinical staff in 1990, became Clinical Director in1997, and assumed the position of Managing Director in 2006. Dr. Turry directs the post masters advanced training in Nordoff-Robbins music therapy and the Graduate Internship and fieldwork Program at the Center. He also designs curriculum and teaches clinical improvisation in the NYU Graduate Music Therapy Program.

Dr. Turry is committed to interdisciplinary collaboration.  In addition to his Rusk-NYU research partnership, he has developed an interdisciplinary team at the NR Center. Students from Steinhardt’s Drama Therapy program, Applied Psychology program, and interns from the NYU Silver School of Social Work participate in the Centers clinical, training and research program.

Dr. Turry is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in music therapy clinical technique. He taught and presented his work throughout Asia and Europe. He is visiting lecturer at the Nordoff-Robbins Centre in London, and a visiting professor at Lesley University in Boston, Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana, the University of Lisbon in Portugal and Senzoku College, Japan. He led the development of Nordoff-Robbins supervision programs in Japan, the Nordoff-Robbins clinical program in Korea, and has led workshops on clinical improvisation in Denmark, Greece, Poland, Ireland and Italy. He was also a keynote speaker at the 8th World Congress of Music Therapy in Hamburg in 1996, and the 13th World Congress in Seoul, Korea in 2011.

 He has been a guest lecturer at many university training programs, including Anna Maria College and the Berklee College of Music. Aspects of his approach are detailed in a number of publications including Transference and Countertransference in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy from The Dynamics of Music Psychotherapy (Kenneth E. Bruscia, Ed.) and The Use of Improvised Song for Children and Adults with Cancer in the text Music Therapy and Medicine (Cheryl Dileo, Ed.).

Dr. Turry was recently named to the editorial board of Music and Medicine, a new interdisciplinary journal that will be an integrative forum for clinical practice and research related to music interventions and applications of clinical music strategies in medicine. Dr. Turry's published research in this journal has focused on the psychological effects of musical elements. Specifically, he examined the music and lyric content in the improvised expressions of a woman with cancer receiving music therapy treatment. He has authored and co-authored several publications in this journal including The Role of Music and Music Therapy in Aphasia Rehabilitation.   

Dr. Turry is on the editorial board of several leading music therapy journals including the Journal of Music Therapy published by the American Music Therapy association, Music Therapy Perspectives, also published by the American Music Therapy association, and the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy

Dr. Turry has a wide range of professional experience as a music therapist. He was a member of the clinical staff at Metropolitan Hospital New York City. He served as Supervising Music Therapist and Coordinator of Student Training, Activity Therapies Department at Bellevue Hospital. He has treated adolescent and adult patients in psychiatric and forensic settings.

Dr. Turry earned his Bachelor's, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Music Therapy from New York University.