Music gives people a universal language to express emotion. Therapeutically, music can be used to address pain, reduce isolation, and build resilience.
On September 19th, The Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy celebrated its 30th anniversary at NYU Steinhardt. The event brought together Nordoff-Robbins clients and their families, center supporters, and members of the NYU community for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiling of a new state-of-the-art music therapy facility at 35 West 4th Street.
“It was a chance to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to the center’s success and recognize the important work that has taken place under our roof,” said Alan Turry, music therapist and managing director.
Since 1989, the Nordoff-Robbins Center has offered 50,000 sessions, each week treating more than 100 clients who are negotiating everything from autism to physical challenges. The center also conducts research on the creative and developmental processes of music therapy and offers training and resources for current and prospective music therapists.
“I imagine that when Clive and Carol Robbins founded this center at Steinhardt three decades ago, they envisioned a welcoming place that would remove the divide that separates us and link us together as a community," said Steinhardt Interim Dean Pamela Morris.
She added that the center's directors, Alan Turry and Barbara Hesser, have “skillfully woven” academic training, treatment, and research in the service of children and families in New York City and around the world.
We, parents of kids with special needs, struggle to find things for them to do. We want them to be occupied with something that motivates them, that grabs their attention, and makes them want to participate.”
The new facility has state-of-the art technology that enables therapists and trainees to film their sessions. A new computer system allows researchers to collect and link data to their recordings, a vital element of clinical work and research. In addition, a research archive -- one of the largest repositories of music therapy sessions in the world -- will house 30+ years of music therapy sessions.
At the dedication ceremony, the actor Robert De Niro gave thanks on behalf of the parents and caregivers whose children have received music therapy services at the Nordoff-Robbins Center.
"We, parents of kids with special needs, struggle to find things for them to do. We want them to be occupied with something that motivates them, that grabs their attention, and makes them want to participate.” De Niro said.
He noted that during his time in music therapy, his son has become freer in expressing himself.
“It’s great to see your kid making progress," De Niro said. "The more my son does, the more comfortable he gets. This is the best thing that a parent could want and hope for."
Music Therapy alumnus Brian Schreck takes recordings of his terminally ill patients' heartbeats and transforms them into incredibly moving songs for their bereaved family members.
Nisha Sajnani, PhD, RDT-BCT, is an associate professor at NYU Steinhardt and the director of the Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions’ Drama Therapy Program.