Nordoff Robbins at the BAMT Conference

Conference catch-up: “Re-Visioning our Voice: Resourcing music therapy for contemporary needs”

The Second BAMT Conference (8-10 April 2016, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow)

The Second Conference of the British Association for Music Therapy (BAMT) took place in Glasgow between 8th and 10th of April 2016 and attracted approximately 300 delegates, including practitioners, researchers, academics and policy-makers across the UK and beyond.

 “The BAMT 2016 Conference seeks to explore how music therapists might develop practices, articulate music therapy visions, values and professional currencies, and better engage with the demands, needs and expectations of service users, commissioners, funders, and the health professions at large. How might we re-vision our practice-discourses, our ‘voice’?”

With the theme of ‘re-visioning our voice’ running through it, this conference was rich in presentations, workshops and roundtable discussions exploring the current state and future of music therapy in relationship to the changing healthcare landscape in the UK. Nordoff Robbins practitioners and researchers attended and contributed actively to the conference in many and varied ways.

Donald Wetherick (chair of the conference committee) and Mercédès Pavlicevic (chair of the scientific committee) played a key role in the organisation of the conference, while three members of the Nordoff Robbins PhD programme  – Claire Flower, Simon Procter and Giorgos Tsiris – served on the scientific committee and chaired a series of oral presentations during the conference.

What were Nordoff Robbins’ practitioners and researchers up to?

In total, Nordoff Robbins practitioners and researchers did 6 oral presentations, 9 poster presentations and took part in 3 roundtables drawing from work they have done not only at Nordoff Robbins, but also with other organisations as well as in a number of cross-organisational partnerships.


Nicola Dunbar, Ergina Sampathianaki and David Thorpe drew from their music therapy work and identity, and Claire Flower presented about her ongoing doctoral research at Nordoff Robbins. Oksana Zharinova-Sanderson and Simon Procter reflected on how the Nordoff Robbins research tradition can inform the future development of music therapy. Also, a presentation prepared by Mercédès Pavlicevic (together with Deborah Parker from Associazione Prima Materia) focused on ‘Music and Resilience Support’ (MARS) – a project focusing on building resilience in response to the refugee crisis. This project is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and Nordoff Robbins is one of the six international project partners.


Camilla Farrant, Claire Flower, Jimmy Lyons, Nicky O’Neill, Mercédès Pavlicevic, Neta Spiro, Dave Thorpe, Giorgos Tsiris and Donald Wetherick also presented posters. Their poster presentations – many of which referred to people’s collaborative work with other practitioners and researchers across different organisations – demonstrated the range of Nordoff Robbins colleagues’ interests and knowledge in the field ranging, for example, from national mappings of music therapists in the UK (Giorgos Tsiris together with Catherine Carr, Muriel Swijghuisen Reigersberg and Grace Watts) to the music therapy provision for teenagers with cancer (Jimmy Lyons) and the ‘fertile ground between education and health’ (Nicky O’Neill).

Roundtable discussions

In addition, Nordoff Robbins practitioners and researchers took part in roundtable discussions. Neta Spiro contributed to the roundtable regarding talking about music therapy with non-music therapists, Nicky O’Neill talked about music therapy with children in NHS hospital settings, and Donald Wetherick contributed to a discussion regarding the needs of freelance music therapists in the UK.

New publications

Following the online launch of the British Journal of Music Therapy, Stuart Wood launched his new book ‘A Matrix for Community Music Therapy Practice’. Published by Barcelona Publishers, Wood’s book draws from his recent doctoral research at Nordoff Robbins.

Happy Birthday, Jean Eisler!

Lastly, on Sunday 12th of April a packed hall of approx. 300 delegates celebrated Jean Eisler’s 100th birthday (see a video clip here: As illustrated in Fraser Simpson’s book “The Nordoff-Robbins Adventure: Fifty Years of Creative Music Therapy”, Jean Eisler is a one of the Nordoff Robbins music therapy pioneer in the country. Her work together with Sybil Beresford-Peirse and other pioneers, played a crucial role in the establishment and development of Nordoff Robbins over the years.

The book of abstracts from the conference is available on the BAMT website, while a number of photos and videos are available on the BAMT Twitter page using the hashtag #BAMTconf2016.

Are you inspired to attend a conference about music therapy? How about the Nordoff Robbins Plus conference? Register here.