Therapy in Music for Handicapped Children

  • Therapy in Music for Handicapped Children
  • Author: Nordoff, P. & Robbins, C.
  • ISBN: 9781891278198
  • E-ISBN: 9781891278983

Printed and shipped from U.S. warehouse only.

This book traces the development of the Nordoff-Robbins approach to Creative Music Therapy. It is in the nature of a clinical autobiography in which Paul Nordoff and Clive Robbins describe in detail the successive treatment and research projects through which they empirically shaped their seminal contribution to the international field of music therapy. Nordoff, a pianist trained for the concert platform and an eminent composer, turned his creative skills to reaching and engaging the musical sensitivities inborn in a wide range of mentally, emotionally and multiply disabled children. Robbins, with extensive experience in special education and arts therapies, supported and augmented Nordoff’s insightful, searching work. Their imaginative collaboration took them on a journey of investigation into the then largely unexplored world of musical responsiveness in special needs children.

The Nordoff-Robbins approach took two fundamental directions, both creative. With individual children, they based their clinical practice on interactive improvisation. Processes of therapy were initiated as individual clients participated in music created spontaneously to meet, answer, and enhance their musical and behavioral responses. In their approach to group music therapy, they mainly relied on composition, on songs, instrumental activities, and forms of music theatre composed especially with children’s abilities and developmental needs in mind. The book recounts their discoveries and presents a broad range of technique in both modes of therapy. Musical factors are considered and discussed extensively and the reader is invited to accompany the authors as stage by stage they develop their theory and rationales of Creative Music Therapy.  

It is on the work described in this book, beginning in the UK and Europe in 1959, and maturing in Kansas and Philadelphia through 1966, that the entire later development of the Nordoff-Robbins practice is founded. The processes of creative therapy that the pioneers researched in children inspired succeeding generations of therapists to apply their approach to adult clients and across the entire spectrum of human disability, illness, deprivation, and need.

Within their global musical orientation, Nordoff and Robbins were intensely client-centered, and the book is replete in mini case stories. A selection of captioned photographs illustrates the clinical focus of both modes of their approach.


1) The Inception of the Work

2) The Widening Exploration

3) Outline of a New Music Therapy

4) Individual Music Therapy: Categories of Response

5) Experimental Group Activity: Working Reports

6) Pif-Paf-Poltrie: The Working Game as Therapy

7) Music Therapy and Personality Change in Autistic Children

8) Group Musical Activities with Trainable Children

9) A Rationale for Group Music therapy

10) Epilogue: To the Musician Therapist