Music Therapy

The NYU Music Therapy Program and the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy Present


Symposium Description | Program | Registration | Important Information | Speaker Bios

Symposium Description

The last ten years have seen a transformation in the autistic community, centered around notions such as neurodiversity, empowerment, and self-advocacy. This symposium is dedicated to exploring how music and music therapy programs for autistic people can be implemented and researched in ways that reflect these contemporary trends, particularly those promoted by autistic advocates.


-Barbara Hesser and Dr. Kenneth Aigen

Neurodiversity, Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy, and the Autism Spectrum
-Dr. Alan Turry (speaker), Rachel Verney (discussant)

Autistic Advocates Talk about Music and Music Therapy
-Jules Este, Ethan Jones, Raven

Autism as Performance: Therapeutic Musical Theater and the Formation/Expression of Identities
-Maria Hodermarska, Ethan Jones

A Singing Group for Autistic Adults: Results and Implications for Research and Practice
-Dr. Laurel Young

Sensory Friendly Concerts and Musical Autist Communities: Creating Vibrant Autistic Culture for Future Generations
-CJ Shiloh and Sunny Cefaratti (speakers), Barbara Yahr (discussant)

Music and Autism: Ethnomusicological Perspectives for Music Therapy
-Dr. Michael Bakan

Location: Frederick Loewe Theatre, 35 West 4th Street
Questions: (212) 998-5452

Music therapists attending the symposium can claim seven CEUs under the category of "non-approved educational courses" by providing the following items to the CBMT: 1) activity title; 2) activity sponsor; 3) instructor names; 4) a written summary of the learning experience and its application to music therapy practice and the CBMT Board Certification Domains (approximately 250 words); 5) a copy of the brochure or syllabus for the activity; 6) a copy of the certificate or proof of attendance (signature of presenter/presider); 7) the number of contact hours in the activity or program. Symposium attendees will be provided with a signed certificate of attendance.

 Pre-June 1June 1 to onsite registration
Current NYU Students and autistic advocates $60 $80
NYU Alumni, Faculty, Staff $80 $100
Other Students $80 $100
General Public $100 $120

Register here

Symposium proceeds will benefit the Clive Robbins Fund to support clinical treatment at the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy. Seats will be limited. Register early to guarantee your attendance.

Important Information

The Symposium will take place 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Saturday, June 25, 2016, at the Frederick Loewe Theatre, 35 West 4th Street.

For more information: email or call (212) 998-5452

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Michael Bakan is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the World Music Ensembles Program at Florida State University, where he directs the Balinese gamelan program and Omnimusica intercultural ensemble. He is the author of the books World Music: Traditions and Transformations and Music of Death and New Creation: Experiences in the World of Balinese Gamelan Beleagnjur, as well as of more than fifty articles, chapters in edited volumes, and reviews. As coordinator of the neurodiverse Artism Ensemble, his ethnomusicological research on autism spectrum conditions has been sponsored by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other agencies. He has been an invited lecturer or clinician at dozens of universities throughout the United States and internationally, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, the Berklee College of Music, and the University of Toronto.

Sunny Cefaratti is a performing pianist/vocalist, co-director of The Musical Autist, and a mentor to other musical autists and autistic advocates. She was born in South Korea, completely blind, and at 2 years old she was adopted by her family in the United States. She was discovered to have perfect pitch at age 4 and was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at age 13. After leaving the Maryland School for the Blind at age 21, Sunny spent the next 8 years in a sheltered workshop, earning less than $1 per week. In March of 2015, Sunny successfully separated from this placement and with the help of Self Directed Services DDA program and The Musical Autist, she is now working full time to advance her career in music and in disability rights activism.

Jules Alexander Este is a 23-year old young man diagnosed on the autism spectrum who has been attending the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy at NYU since September 2001. Music therapy has made a profound impact on Jules's emotional and social maturation and he continues to reap its benefits. Jules is the vice-president of the Kiwanis Queens ABLE Aktion Club and is also involved in other organizations including Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) and the Young Adult Institute (YAI).

Maria Hodermarska is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (LCAT), a Registered Drama Therapist (RDT) and Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC) and an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (ICADAC). She is a full-time faculty member in the NYU Program in Drama Therapy and works for Project Common Bond an international symposium for young people who have lost a family member to an act of terror, armed or inter-religious conflict. Her current research uses duoethnographic methodologies to inquire about the impact of autism and other developmental disabilities on the "caregiver" and "care-receiver" relationship. The blog which serves as the data trail for her current co-research can be found here.

Ethan Jones is an activist and college student at Kingsborough Community College. He is a recent graduate of the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program. He has interests in the arts, music and writing. Ethan has performed for the NYU As Performance series in Rule Breaking (November 13-15, 2015). He has also performed with Amas Community Theater. He keeps a blog about his life and art.

C. J. Shiloh, MT-BC, is a disability rights advocate, co-director of The Musical Autist, and Neurologic Music Therapist in the Baltimore/Annapolis region of Maryland. In 2011, she and Sunny Cefaratti began a 501c3 nonprofit organization, The Musical Autist, an advocacy and service organization which promotes the Neurodiversity Movement through Musical Autist Communities and Sensory Friendly Concerts. These concerts promote “equal access to the fine arts" and a structured practice of Community Music Therapy with an agenda for social reform. She created a free continuing education course at Music Therapy and Neuro Education, to educate and challenge music therapists on topics neurodiversity, presuming competence and the political agendas of various autism organizations.

Dr. Alan Turry earned his BA, MA and DA degrees in Music Therapy from New York University. He is the Managing Director of the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy as well as researcher, senior clinician, level III trainer/educator and supervisor for advanced trainees and therapists, and teaches clinical improvisation in the NYU Graduate Music Therapy Program. Dr. Turry is on the editorial board of Music and Medicine, the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, and the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy. His published research in music and medicine has focused on the psychological effects of musical elements. In his doctoral research he examined the relationship between lyrics and music in improvised songs that were created in the context of music therapy with a woman diagnosed with cancer.

Rachel Verney received her music therapy training directly from Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins and she was a staff member involved in the education and training of students at the London Nordoff-Robbins Centre for nearly 30 years. Most recently she was director of the centre’s national outreach program.

Raven Is a music therapy participant at the Nordoff-Robbins Center. Raven has been playing music at the Center with her longtime partner, Michele Ritholz, for many years. These days as a music therapy advocate, she plays instruments with Michele and plays certain songs from various music genres that make her feel “beyond good.” She feels that music therapy makes the human spirit, mind, and heart sing and dance as it heals the human body and makes every musician feel happy. Individual music therapy sessions with Michele have Raven focus on herself more—both on favorite musical songs and artists, alongside personal worries. Raven likes to play her own music with her therapist for an hour in “Two-Women Individual Musical Therapy Sessions” and enjoys making music with her companion. She enjoys having time to think about herself and focus on only herself, while registering and participating in single (individual) music therapy activities.

Barbara Yahr, MA, MM, MT-CB, is a practicing music therapist and orchestral conductor. She received her training in music therapy from New York University where she earned an MA in 2011, followed by post-graduate Level 1 Certification from the Nordoff-Robbins Center for music therapy in 2012. In addition to her private practice, Ms. Yahr leads groups and works with individuals on both in-patient psychiatric units, and with the Pain Management Department at Westchester Medical Center. Ms. Yahr is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and has an MM in music theory from the Manhattan School of Music. She is currently Music Director and Conductor of the Greenwich Village Orchestra in Manhattan, having previously served as Assistant Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony under Lorin Maazel and Principal Guest Conductor of the Munich Radio Orchestra. Bridging both worlds, Ms. Yahr is the founder of Together in Music, an innovative concert series, dedicated to bringing orchestral music, as music therapy, to the special needs community.

Dr. Laurel Young (MTA) is an Assistant Professor of Music Therapy at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She has over 21 years of diverse clinical experience and has published in several peer-reviewed journals and books. In 2014, she was a Spotlight Speaker at the World Congress of Music Therapy held in Krems, Austria and also received the Research and Publications award at the CAMT’s 40th national conference. In 2015, Dr. Young was an invited “Focus on Canada” speaker at the CAMT’s 41st conference. She is a member of the research team at the Centre for Arts in Human Development at Concordia and is a Co-Investigator and Sub-theme Leader of a project called Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing (AIRS) – a major collaborative research initiative of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.