What happened at the third Nordoff Robbins Plus Conference?

KatieRose Sanfilippo, a Research Assistant at Nordoff Robbins, explores what we heard about at this year’s event

From music therapy to neuroscience, a diverse array of fields is asking questions about music, its role and its importance. On Tuesday May 17th 2016 people with an eclectic range of backgrounds, including music therapists, music psychologists, arts and health specialists and musicians gathered during a full day Nordoff Robbins Plus conference at Nordoff Robbins London Centre.

During the conference entitled Exploring music in therapeutic and community settings six speakers undertook explorations through presentations of their own work or research. It also hosted a poster session with several presenters with a similar array of backgrounds. The aim of the day was to discuss how music is used in a range of contexts and how it is studied within different fields in order to provide opportunities for multi-disciplinary and cross-institutional collaboration and discussion. Below is a brief summary of each speaker’s presentation.

Nordoff Robbins music therapist Nicky O’Neill opened the conference by presenting her work with children with complex needs within the acute medical setting of the Great Ormond Street Hospital giving the analogy of having to be both a race car, as the environment is fast past and has urgency, but be able to go “off road” and creative when presented with a new challenge.


NR Plus Conference Feedback Poster

The keynote speaker, Prof. Lauren Stewart, first presented an overview of basic ideas in neuroscience research then gave examples from her studies which investigated how music making might play a role in the cognitive and motor rehabilitation of stroke survivors and patients suffering from chronic neglect.

Nordoff Robbins music therapist Esma Perkins described how the individual, closed music therapy sessions with students encourage a comfort with everyday music-making which opens up the therapeutic benefit to an entire community.

Claire Flower, a PhD student and practicing music therapist, explains how practice-led research can elicit questions of both the practitioner and the researcher, and how some of these questions can present tensions between the two roles.

Nordoff Robbins music therapist Jimmy Lyons explained how his multi-disciplinary approach to music therapy, involving music lessons, individual and group therapy sessions both within the in-patient and outpatient wards happen flexibly within the hospital setting as a way to meet the complex and wide ranging needs of both the teenage patients and their families.

Dr Nikki Moran challenged the notion and bias of music researchers and practitioners towards the prominence of Western classical music and musical notation and presented her work presented investigating musical communication; from the nonverbal communication between players in North Indian classical duos to the communication of a conductor leading a small classical ensemble.

The conference ended with small and large group discussions. These lead to questions of practicality when investigating research, presentation of evidence, and feelings of a need to collaborate. This activity was crucial to the conference as it allowed for active participation in the conversation and began to build the foundation towards a bridge of communication and collaboration.

Throughout the conference different perspectives, practices, contexts and methodologies were presented, each working towards understanding music and what role it plays in particular communities and contexts. Each speaker gave comprehensive insight into their own experience, challenges and understanding within their own communities and disciplines. Overall, the conference brought like-minded people together to discuss and examine research topics and methods, finding moments of collaboration and passionate discussion. A big thank you to the presenters and conference delegates. See you next year!

Nordoff Robbins Research

Recent Research Events

Research Resources