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.

Covid-19 hasn’t changed our ambition, if anything it’s made it stronger 

In the year of the pandemic, we were hit with the biggest challenge Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy has ever faced. Yet our supporters, volunteers, colleagues and clients all came together, adapted and moved forward to a digitally focused world.

Our annual report tells our story of a year like no other, with more highs and lows than ever before, but still on a mission to provide high quality music therapy that is accessible to everyone. Our five-year strategy to 2024 aims to make our services even more accessible, especially for the most vulnerable and isolated. And there’s more we plan to do to champion music and its positive impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing.

Covid-19 has not changed this aspiration. We have taken stock, evaluated, and set out new objectives to help us move towards our strategy in this new world.

An infographic of the annual report stats

Annual Report and Accounts for 2020

Sandra Schembri is wearing black, standing facing the camera wearing glasses.

A message from Sandra Schembri CEO

Our clients are people who without the help of others, would struggle to access the potential music has to offer, allowing people to connect with themselves and the world around them. People such as those with life limiting illness, disabilities or feelings of isolation. Covid-19 has changed the way we work, and we have seen the power of music being used by so many to connect us to ourselves and each other during this time, despite the challenge of not being able to be physically close with each other. 

In response to the pandemic, we knew we had to keep answering our mission where possible by being incredibly flexible and exploring what works and doesn’t work online. Music Therapy is participatory. We work WITH our clients, making music with them. This works best when you are physically close to someone, and when non-verbal connection and communication is possible. Covid has currently robbed us of this as an option, but we know that making music matters to the health of everyone all over the world. 

Since March 2020, we have been working in an ever more personalised and local ways, taking in as much of the context of the person we are working with, their setting and that of our music therapist. The resilience this work takes is to be commended and I offer my thanks to all our team for their constant focus on how they can use their expertise and energy to answer the growing demand for our services. 

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.