A collaboration with Nordoff Robbins practitioners from around the world


A collaboration with Nordoff Robbins practitioners from around the world

The Nordoff Robbins approach to music therapy is practised around the world, having grown from the original training programmes delivered by Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins in UK as well as subsequent trainings around the world delivered by those who trained with them.

The richness of learning from and with other Nordoff Robbins practitioners from around the world has been promoted by the Nordoff Robbins organisations in the UK and other countries over the years. Those of our colleagues in the UK who trained in London in the late 90’s will remember various work-experiences and exchanges of the students and practitioners working in Germany, New York and UK, including Clive Robbins himself. Our colleagues also fondly remember being inspired by witnessing the work of Nordoff Robbins practitioners from around the world at Nordoff Robbins symposiums in London (1995), New York (2001) and Witten (2006) and at a more recent Nordoff Robbins symposium in Buenos Aires (2019).

‘Deep roots and new branches – learning and sharing events for the world-wide Nordoff Robbins community’

In recent months, through joined efforts with colleagues at the Nordoff Robbins Centre in New York, we are working to nurture the spirit of international collaboration with Nordoff Robbins practitioners from around the world. With this in mind, we have started a series of professional development events ‘Deep roots and new branches – learning and sharing events for the world-wide Nordoff Robbins community’.

The first of these events was delivered by our Director of Music Services Oksana Zharinova-Sanderson to Nordoff Robbins practitioners in USA, Brazil, Italy and Japan. It focused on discussion about Nordoff Robbins supervision practice, including how we can support supervisors.

It considered how the detailed listening to and consideration of the musical interaction which is at the heart of the music therapy practice translates into the process of supervision.

The comments from the participators included:

  • It was exactly what I hoped for- engaging and illuminating for both practicing Nordoff Robbins therapists and for those who are involved in training others.
  • I rediscovered the importance of listening and getting in touch musically with our clients and supervisees. It also made me think what are the core aspects of Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy.
  • It was a great opportunity for us all (8 of us from Japan) to learn about how to supervise the supervisors. As we are trying to start a training program in Japan, it is such a wonderful opportunity to connect with international colleagues, share our issues and learn from each other.
  • I was struck by the way we got to the heart of the issue. Even in a situation where a lot of information was surfacing and seemingly difficult to sort out, I was greatly impressed by the way Oksana made sure to do a workshop (even via zoom situation!) to help the supervisees learn in a way that was clear to them. When I do supervision with students, sometimes students end up just talking, even though I keep my mind to do some musical work. Having been a part of a few supervisions by Oksana so far, I understand very well how important it is to workshop (role play) because that creates the key for deep learning.
  • What I found most useful was the discussion of how to work with students in supervision. There are usually so many possible things to address, but I see the value of choosing one at a time to focus on. I love Oksana’s use of the Socratic method in her teaching, helping the student to see (and listen!) more clearly and reach their own conclusions. I came away from this week’s meeting with some concrete ideas of what I can do in supervision for my students.
  • Oksana’s keen insights combined with sensitive encouragement inviting therapists to become more aware of clinical next steps by examining the details in musical interaction is an essential aspect of the Nordoff Robbins work – an essential part of the deep roots. Keeping our ears awake and alert allows us to continue in the tradition.

In the second event of the series, music therapists from UK, Australia, Germany, Italy and Greece came together to listen and discuss the lecture delivered by Dr Alan Turry. Alan is Managing Director of Nordoff Robbins Centre, New York and an experienced Nordoff Robbins music therapist, supervisor, researcher and educator. In this session he shared examples of the Nordoff Robbins practice delivered in New York, highlighting the development of Nordoff Robbins practice and thinking there. He also shared his reflections on the JAMA study on music therapy and autism and talked about Nordoff Robbins practice in response. In particular he highlighted the development of the musical engagement scale, building from the original Nordoff and Robbins’ rating scales.

The comments from this event included:

  • The presentation with Alan was so incredibly informative and inspiring. It managed to make me feel enriched as a practitioner by seeing inspiring work and being convinced afresh of music therapy’s impact, informed as a practitioner with really helpful tips and modelling of therapy (including amazing bravery in staying with the music), connected to something wider than my own bubble/organisation and finally and probably most importantly seeing an amazing example of a brave, generous and authentically human(e) person doing our job.
  • Thank you again and I really do hope we can do lots more of these shared Worldwide Nordoff Robbins CPD events. It is what we need.
  • I was moved to tears by seeing and hearing Carol Robbins. There is something about her wonderful musical skill and beautiful voice combined with such a profound love and belief in the expansiveness of the client that is absolutely captivating.
  • I really can’t thank Alan enough and Oksana for organising – an absolute salve and medicine.
  • This session was very nice as it linked to what we all feel is a basic foundation for what we do today and from where we developed. So deep roots is a nice terminology.
  • The CPD with Alan was an amazing experience for me and I would like to thank you so much for inviting me to participate. We (NR colleagues from abroad) lack such experiences and it felt like an unexpected gift which immediately pushed forward my clinical work from the very next day.
  • I was very excited about the opportunity to connect with NR therapists from all over the world. I hope this connection keeps growing and we feel closer with each other.

The importance of the Nordoff Robbins community around the world coming to share and learn together has been palpable and we look forward to more events like these in the future.