Hand-Me-Down: Music from Generation to Generation

I am so glad to have you join me on this first Raising Harmony blog. Let’s share our stories and songs and hopes and challenges and most of all support each other in transforming the lives of children and families through music.

I sometimes stop and think about how my life ended up this way. Most days of the week you can find me in the music room of Alternatives for Children on Long Island, New York being a music therapist just like I have been for the past 24 years. It is a wonderful space, with lots of warmth and all kinds of instruments. But the room really comes alive when moms and dads come in with their little guys. At the moment they enter, all the days and years before seem to melt away and suddenly it is just us and the music. So how come after so many years, this routine and repetition doesn’t bore me? 

Dr. Clive Robbins and friend making music

Well, the answer is in part the legacy passed down to me from my early mentors – Clive and Carol Robbins. Clive was the co-founder of a music therapy practice named after him and his partner Paul Nordoff. The principals of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy are founded in the idea that every child, every person has a musical life that deserves nurturing and respect. They called this the ‘music child’. You can see Clive living his ideas as he makes music with that exuberant young girl in the first picture. Enter a twenty year old me, who was lucky enough to be in a workshop given by Clive and his wife Carol at the Crane School of Music in New York. I was smitten with their music, with their passion and with their mission to spread their work throughout the world one child at a time.

Spreading the joy of music learned with Clive and Carol Robbins
to children with hearing impairments

Fortunately for me, Clive and Carol were kind enough to take me on as a trainee and to allow me to learn and grow in their method. That is a picture of me creating music with a group of hard of hearing young kids at the piano as I helped establish a new program under the Robbins’s tutelage. I hoped that I was channeling their love and excitement through my voice and fingers and right up to those eager young faces waiting to hear and make music for maybe the first time.

The legacy of the music child

Now, both Clive and Carol are gone. But I feel as if they are sitting on my shoulder smiling and laughing with delight as I make music with the little ones every day. And I hope that I can share with each of you some of the ideas and feelings that are the legacy of the ‘music child’ passed down from Clive and Carol to me and then to you.

Do you have a music mentor? Maybe you met Clive or Carol and were touched at their magical way of meeting children. Tell us about your musical legacy and how music has been passed down from generation to generation in your family or community. Raising Harmony is the place for all of us to become a community of music makers and music sharers. Hope to hear from you soon,

Elizabeth K. Schwartz LCAT MT-BC
Raising Harmony: Music Therapy for Young Children

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