Using Electronic music in music therapy

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Music therapy

Music therapy is a specialist use of music that aims to facilitate physical and emotional wellbeing, and to promote the development and retention of key communication skills. A wide range of instruments can be used in music therapy, including the voice, and the music created is often improvised. 

What makes Nordoff Robbins music therapy so powerful is the ability to create a connection with beneficiaries that has a true purpose.  For many of the people we work with, physical or neurological challenges mean that attaining this meaningful connection can be incredibly difficult, and music therapy provides them with a way of achieving this through music. 

Increasingly, our therapists are exploring opportunties brought my electronic music and technology, as it offers such a wide scope for different forms of music making. People with very limited movement are able to create complex music, often with just a few finger taps. 

Luke Wilson, one of our music therapists based in Yorkshire tells us, 

"For people with physical impairments, you can take what might be a very small movement and make it into a gigantic sound, which is powerful and means a lot to that person because it can be so expressive"

Ewen's Story

Ewen is 18 years old and has dystonic cerebral palsy, a condition which reduces movement control and causes muscle spasms, which are sometime painful.

Our music therapist, Francesca, shares Ewen's story with us:

Ewen was referred to music therapy to encourage his confidence, specifically by moving his arms and using his voice. Ewen was a bit unsure at the beginning of therapy, and quite teary during the first session.

However, he began to be more at ease with and responsive to the music, especially when listening to the acoustic guitar.  When I introduced him to ThumbJam on iPad, Ewen’s attitude changed significantly. Thumbjam is an app that enables access to over 40 high-quality real instruments multi-sampled, hundreds of included scales that allowed him to explore different styles of music from rock to classical.  

Every session I set up the iPad using a special mount that would attach on his wheelchair, so that Ewen could be independent to play the app. After exploring different samples, he seemed to like the Rhodes piano and the electric guitar, which allowed him to play as a solo musician during music making. Ewen’s motivation and engagement in the sessions have greatly improved in a very short time through the use of this technology.

Reaching out to play the iPad is a great motivating factor for Ewen and he is showing great focus and intention while moving his arm. The sessions are filled with many fun moments and Ewen and I are both co-creators in the music making.


Bedroom 2 Dancefloor

We have published this story as part of our Bedroom 2 Dancefloor campaign, a new competition for Spring 2019 where we are searching for the UK's best upcoming DJs. There's more info on the competition at: