Ways music can enrich lives – music and autism

We believe in the power of music to connect with the human potential that lies within us all, including those living with profound disability, illness and exclusion.

Music and autism

We are all innately musical beings. We use pitch and tone to express ourselves through our voices – not just when we speak but, for example, when we laugh or cry.

 These musical elements are always there and offer a powerful channel for communication, even for individuals who find expressing themselves more difficult for whatever reason.

When we take part in music making – actively listening and/or playing with another person, we use many different parts of our brain – not only areas that relate to sound but also our senses of sight and touch, our movements, memories, and feelings. 

Our musical experiences offer us opportunities to exercise our ‘neurological muscles’ and promote integration across all areas of the brain.

Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy and autism

People on the autism spectrum face many different challenges that can also affect their families and carers. Music therapy can support these individuals and their families in many different ways, helping with communication, emotional wellbeing and social interaction.

Autism and complex needs affect people differently, and our music-centred approach focuses on working with a person’s existing abilities to bring out their potential.

Through music, our therapists can help people establish meaningful communication, develop an increased awareness of themselves and others, build self-esteem and confidence, emotional and social development.

If you’d like to find out how our music therapy could benefit an organisation supporting people on the autism spectrum, you can register your interest.

Ideas on using music to support people on the autism spectrum


Singing can support people on the autism spectrum communicate and express themselves. Here are some of our ideas to get involved with singing:

  • Join an online choir – Nordoff Robbins fully inclusive choir happens every Tuesday at 4pm. It doesn’t have to be this choir though, you get involved with anyone you want to. 
  • Singalong with one of our music therapists – we’ve created Singalongs in a variety of genres of songs. These are great whether at home with family or even in a school setting.
  • On Stage at Home with Clangers – These are fun, short songs, using objects from around the home where Nordoff Robbins music therapists and the Clangers show young children that you don’t need instruments to make music.


BandLab is a music creation platform on the internet that lets anyone make music, adding in guitar riffs, drums, piano and more, in whichever way you like. 

Whether you’re just beginning or a pro at making music, BandLab is a great way to get involved whilst having a lot of fun. 

It’s free to use. Simply set up an account and get going, you can even make music with your friends too.

Playing an instrument

Learning to play a musical instrument has been shown to help people communicate and express themselves. At Nordoff Robbins we believe that learning a musical skill can help provide a meaningful and focused creative activity to help people develop both musically and personally.  

But we know that not everyone will have access to an instrument. If not, speak to a local music teacher, a local school or you can even check out our Accessible Musical Learning sessions.

Other support available

We know music has a lot of benefits, but if you want additional help on autism outside of music, please visit some of these charities: