Our impact

We are dedicated to investigating the impact that music therapy can have for those affected by life-limiting illness, isolation or disability, and this work ensures that our practice is effective and led by our beneficiaries’ lived experiences.

Overview of our charity vision, mission, and purpose

In 1959 American composer and pianist Paul Nordoff and special education teacher Clive Robbins developed a new form of collaborative music-making to engage vulnerable and isolated children, which they termed ‘therapy in music’.

Since then the practice has evolved to work with all ages and today Nordoff Robbins is the largest music therapy charity in the UK. We receive no direct government funding, which means we rely on the generosity of our supporters to be able to continue our work.

Our music therapists are expertly trained to tune into each movement, reaction and expression of the individuals they work with to discover how music can enrich their lives. This could be to unlock memories, to communicate where words have failed, to socially connect with family and friends, or build confidence and self-esteem.

We provide a range of different sessions for children and adults of all ages in our bases across the UK including London, Manchester, Newcastle and Scotland – from one-to-one music therapy to specialised music lessons and shared sessions for groups of different sizes and formats. All these sessions are free.

We also work in partnership with over 270 organisations to bring music therapy to as many vulnerable people who could benefit from it as possible. These include schools, care homes, hospices, hospitals, mental health services and brain injury units.

Our five-year strategy to 2024 aims to make our services even more accessible, especially for the most vulnerable. And there’s more we plan to do to champion music’s positive impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing. Covid 19 does not change this aspiration.

In 2019 we reached more people with music therapy than ever before

Our music therapy practice is informed by our research – and our researchers work alongside our therapists, at our centres and partner organisations, to evaluate and understand the impact of our work. This ensures that our therapists can provide the best possible support every day, and that we are teaching people to work in ways that we know are effective and informed by our beneficiaries’ lived experiences.  

Overwhelmingly, our research shows the positive impact that our music therapy has for our beneficiaries, their families, carers and for staff. 

For Bevin, having regular sessions with our music therapist Katy while a patient in a mental health unit has been a key part of his recovery. Being able to take part in music therapy has enriched Zachary’s life, boosted his self-esteem and concentration, and provided a welcome distraction from all the medical treatment he has had to undergo. You can read more stories from beneficiaries about the impact music therapy has for them.

270+ Organisations across the UK had a Nordoff Robbins music therapist on site, including:
  • Mainstream & SEN Schools
  • Care Homes
  • NHS Hospitals
  • Mental Health Services
  • Neuro-Rehab Centres
  • Hospices
11,954 vulnerable people reached 44,952 music therapy sessions held
13 Regional hubs providing free therapy sessions across the UK
92% of people who had music therapy with us said it improved their quality of life
96% of people who had music therapy with us said it improved their communication skills
7,692 more sessions than in 2018
69% of our total workforce are music therapists - demonstrating our commitment to resourcing our frontline services

Annual Report and Accounts for 2019

A black and white photo of Nordoff Robbins CEO Sandra Schembri

A message from Sandra Schembri CEO

As a charity we continue to be ambitious in our plans to make music therapy more readily available as we see the benefits it brings to both the individuals we work with and those to whom they are connected. In 2019 we reached nearly 12,000 people and worked with over 270 partner organisations including schools, care homes, hospitals and hospices. Our focus has remained on enhancing our regional presence; we continued to invest in our services in Scotland , we opened a new training base in Newcastle and launched a dedicated Manchester Music Network to help us increase and diversify our services in the North West.

Covid 19 has changed the way we work the world over and we have seen the power of music being used by so many to connect us to ourselves and each other during this time. Our fundraising has been decimated not only for this year but like charities across the UK our funding forecasts for 2021 is only 50% of our pre-covid income. In spite of this reduction in income we know that our services are needed now more than ever and we will continue to meet the need as and where we can whether online or face to face.

Read the full 2019 Annual Report

Read about more our impact

Find out more about the impact Nordoff Robbins has as a charity, from our frontline music services to our work around transparency and governance.