The Musical Child: Nordoff-Robbins

Music therapy is often well received with children with developmental delays as they are able to be kids and have the opportunity to freely explore, create, and discover through music while achieving therapeutic and clinical impact.

I am often using Nordoff-Robbins music therapy techniques and interventions when working with children as this model resonates strongly with me as I work with this population.  The Nordoff-Robbins approach to music therapy developed from the 17-year collaboration of Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins beginning in 1958.  It was originally devised as a therapy for children with learning disabilities but has expanded to serve other populations. It is grounded in the belief that everyone can respond to music, no matter how ill or disabled.  It holds that the unique qualities of music as therapy can enhance communication, support change, and enable people to live more resourcefully and creatively.  There are Nordoff-Robbins centres in London, Sydney and at New York University, and it’s a music therapy technique that is widely used across Canada.

Nordoff-Robbins believes everyone responds to music – it affects our minds, bodies, and feelings.  They believe that children should have the opportunity to play and create through spontaneous music making or musical improvisations.  Nordoff-Robbins often refer to this experience as the “musical child.”  The “musical child” appears as the natural instinct that we all have to respond to the sound stimulus and demonstrates that we understand perfectly the shape, structure, and characteristics of musical language, despite previous musical training.  Through a variety of music therapy techniques it is the role of the music therapist to acknowledge, validate, and support the child’s musical communication.  This experience allows the child to creatively express their thoughts, ideas, and feelings.  Through Nordoff-Robbins music can help to: improve physical health and ability, address emotional and behavioural difficulties, develop communication and social skills, and increase creativity, self-esteem and confidence to name a few.

Next Monday, I will be facilitating an information session for a 6 week series of group music therapy sessions for children with developmental delays at Make Way For Me Occupational Therapy for Children.  Looking forward to meeting these children, learning more about each of them, and embarking on a journey together through music!