Nordoff Robbins

Our History

The extraordinary and original work of our founders, Paul Nordoff (1909-1977) and Clive Robbins (1927-2011) that began over half a century ago, remains the inspiration for Nordoff Robbins’ music therapy work today.

Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins1959: Paul Nordoff, American composer and pianist and Clive Robbins, special education teacher, develop a new form of collaborative music-making to engage isolated and disturbed children, which they term ‘therapy in music’.

1960-74: Nordoff and Robbins deepen and refine their approach, working with children, researching and teaching all over the world.

 Paul Nordoff at work1965: Nordoff and Robbins publish Music Therapy for Handicapped Children.

1970: First Nordoff Robbins music therapy service established at Goldie Leigh Hospital, South London by Julienne Cartwright and Sybil Beresford-Peirse.

1973: Julienne Cartwright develops the Nordoff Robbins music therapy approach for adults in Scotland.

Sybil Beresford-Peirse1974: Sybil Beresford-Peirse organises the first Nordoff Robbins training programme taught by Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins.

1976: Foundation of Nordoff Robbins fundraising to support the work, training and research of Nordoff Robbins music therapy.

1980: Nordoff Robbins becomes a registered charity.

The first Nordoff Robbins Centre in Kentish Town1982: First Nordoff Robbins Centre opens in north London housing a music therapy service and training facility under Sybil Beresford-Peirse.

1983: City University London validates the Nordoff Robbins training programme.

The current Nordoff Robbins Centre in Kentish Town - Credit - John Marshall1991: Opening of current Nordoff Robbins London Centre at Lissenden Gardens, funded by a rock concert at Knebworth Park. Performers include Paul McCartney, Genesis, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Elton John and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Sybil Beresford-Peirse retires as Director and is succeeded by Pauline Etkin.

 1995: 2-year Master of Music Therapy degree programme starts.

1996: Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland and Nordoff-Robbins International Trust established. 

2002: Network of nationwide music therapy services set up in partnership with organisations in arts, health, education, and social care. Nordoff Robbins training programme launched at Edinburgh University (converting in 2005 to an MSc at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh).

2006: Nordoff Robbins launches UK’s first MPhil /PhD programme in music therapy, validated by City University London.

2008: Launch of MA in Music Therapy (Community Music Therapy / Nordoff-Robbins), hosted by the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and validated by City University London.

Awarded the Royal Society for Public Health’s ‘Arts and Health’ award for significant and innovative contribution made to the field of Music and Health practice.

2011: Launch of newly revamped Masters Degree, Master of Music Therapy (Nordoff Robbins): Music, Health and Society, to run concurrently across two sites in London and Manchester.

For more detailed information about our story…

Every Note Counts by Fraser SimpsonRead Every Note Counts: The Story of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (2007) by Fraser Simpson. Obtain your copy from the publisher’s website or email

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General enquiries:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7267 4496

Tel: +44 (0)20 7428 9908

Alternatively visit our contact page to find the right person to get in touch with.


Please contact Nordoff Robbins for previous annual reports/reviews.

Case Stories

Case Stories - Credit - Nordoff Robbins

Find out about some of those who have been helped by Nordoff Robbins. Read more »

Book our services

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Organisations can arrange sessions on their own premises; we work with schools, hospitals, care homes and many other organisations. Find out more and see some examples of our projects.

Media Centre

Visit our Media Centre to download factsheets, press releases and other internal publications about Nordoff Robbins.