Thoughts from a music therapy student

I’m just coming up to the half way point in my 2 years of training as a Nordoff Robbins music therapist. It had been my vague plan to train since leaving school some 17 years ago(?), but it wasn’t until I attended a short introductory course at Nordoff Robbins London Centre that I met some of the therapists, saw recordings of the work in action, and really got an idea of what Nordoff Robbins music therapy is.

I’d always considered myself a fairly flexible musician, and wanted to move towards a career in which I could work with people, so I went for it. To my amazement I was accepted onto the course. I’ve tried to avoid the word ‘journey’ in describing the experience so far (X-Factor this is NOT), but I’m afraid ‘journey’ is the only word that covers it. The tutors are experienced, working music therapists that appear to have ‘seen it all’, but will be the first to tell you that you never stop learning in this work.

If you’re considering applying to train as a music therapist then here are my tips based on my ‘journey’ so far:

1. Be prepared to…stretch yourself and your music in every direction, and to step outside your comfort zone. I’ve experienced music in both a much simpler and a more complex way since starting the course, and learned a lot about myself too. For example, the thought of standing up and leading a group without a guitar or piano to hide behind frankly terrified me, but I soon found that throwing yourself in and having faith in music actually works.

2. Be prepared to…spend a large portion of your time explaining in various ways what it is you do, and what music therapy is. Luckily the training is well-geared to help you do just that: how to talk about and present your work, be professional and ultimately find work in the ‘real world’. That was an important part of my choice of training with Nordoff

3. Be prepared to…deal with the fact that some people will always think you do nothing but waft a tambourine around all day. You’ll use a tambourine some of the time, along with the piano, guitar, your voice and whatever else you can get your hands on, but you’ll be using them in strategic ways to encourage and support people of any age and walk of life who face additional challenges to have experiences and make connections with themselves, other people and the world around them.

4. Be prepared to…meet some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. And that includes the tutors, your fellow students, but most of all the people that you work with. All of these people will challenge and inspire you, and ask that you do the same to them in return.

5. Be prepared to…laugh, cry, dance (yes, actually dance), sing, and everything in between.

Jon, Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy student.

Find out more about training with Nordoff Robbins