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In founding the Trust the Abbotsons wish to preserve what they found most useful in the two main developments they pioneeered: eg. 'their Mobile Unit and their experiments' in using electronic instruments in their work.

Funding for the Trust is raised through concerts, art sales and donations.

Music has been used as a healing tool for centuries but it was not until 1978 that a training course in Music Therapy was founded at The Guildhall of Music, London by concert pianist and cellist, Juliette Alvin.

Miss Alvin's course - which was based on the use of already-composed music - caught the attention of Paul Nordoff, a concert pianist and composer who, along with his colleague, Clive Robbins, experimented with the use of a wide spectrum of improvised techniques which have become associated with Music Therapy. The first training course based along these lines was introduced at The Nordoff-Robbins Centre at The Goldie Leigh Hospital, London in 1974.

Mary and Raymond Abbotson opened a Music Therapy service, at their home in Kirkby Mills, near Kirkbymoorside, North Yorkshire in 1988. The practice grew quickly but was hampered by the fact that they lived in a rural area. This resulted in a considerable number of severely handicapped children being forced to travel long distances for treatment.

To overcome this problem the Abbotsons decided to introduce a mobile service using a purpose-built vehicle designed to include electronic musical instruments along with more traditional ones, thus catering for a wide range of individual needs. The service was much valued by special schools which had no space available indoors. As one Head Teacher put it, "There are now children having music therapy who could not have it any other way."

How does Music Therapy work? Are the children's needs physical and/or emotional? Why do we favour the Nordoff-Robbins approach?

Part of the answer lies in the tradition there is in Western music,of training students to perform already composed music. In contrast, the creative emphasis in the Nordoff-Robbins approach is on improvisation, which forces students to develop original ideas and their own creative potential.

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"Welcome to Music"
A little wobbly girl with Rett Syndrome arrives for her session of music therapy.

Music van

An interior view of "The Music Van"
Mary and Raymond are seen improvising music on the piano and the electric instrument.

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