Children and Young People with special educational needs
Children and Young People with autistic spectrum conditions
Children and Young People with social emotional and mental health needs
Online Music Therapy
Adults with learning disabilities
Adults with mental health needs
Older Adults

All clients’ names have been changed or removed to preserve confidentiality. Music therapists’ real names have been used.

Children and Young People with special educational needs

“Anya* has had eight sessions now with Alistair who has done a wonderful job. In that time she has made many improvements. Although her hand function is still poor, her shared attention, her focus, her motivation and her intention to communicate have all improved significantly as a result of the music therapy. Perhaps most importantly, she is very, very happy in the sessions. It is, without doubt, her favourite activity of the week.” Parent of a young girl with special educational needs

“Wim has done brilliantly with Zak* and he just loves the sessions he has with him. Wim has adapted his music and made it all work for Zak. We are very grateful for Wim’s therapy, it’s rare to see Zak so engaged and have so much fun.” Parent of boy with special educational needs

“Just wanted you to know that when we got in the car today he said to me ‘I love music therapy, I wish I could go Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday’! He had sports day today, which he didn’t like, and his confidence was rocked a bit. Which is why it made me so pleased that we could end the day on such a lovely, positive note. I also love listening to him when he is having his session. It has always been the highlight of his week. Thank you so much!!” Parent of boy with special educational needs

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for everything you have done and are doing with my son. From the feedback he has given us (which can be difficult from young boys), he is really enjoying his time with Wim and loves the sessions. From the feedback from the school, it seems as though these sessions really do help him and make him happy. So thank you both so so much for helping our little boy. Things can be difficult for him and so making him happy is something we all treasure and this is what you are helping to achieve.” Parent of a boy with special educational needs

“Shannon was absolutely brilliant. Thoroughly professional and at the same time extremely warm and cordial with Niall*. Niall was very attached to her. I remember on the last day he was extremely sad and cried on the way back home. Shannon was very approachable and would thoroughly discuss Niall’s progress, give feedbacks and suggestions and other useful information on how we could help him at home with the therapy. Extremely satisfied with the overall service, administration and communication. All communications were absolutely clear without any ambiguity. Will definitely use the service again.” Parent of child with learning disabilities.

My son attends music therapy every Saturday morning. My son was having problems with attending his music lessons at school (it resorted to him having to sit out the lesson in solo). Ever since I started music therapy, his school teachers have reported such a great improvement. He, now, is less anxious about the noise and interacts more in the lesson. He looks forward to attending music club on Saturdays and it’s even turned into being used as a motivator for him at home. He has started attending the therapy sessions alone without me as the therapist and I worked on gradually phasing me out of the room. I am very thankful to the Richmond Music Trust for offering this service through Hounslow Short Breaks, it’s very pleasant for me as a parent to take him to somewhere he feels he fits in doing an activity, such as music, that he enjoys immensely and where he can work to display this externally also. His therapist is amazing and the power of her patience has truly shown positive change in my son. I am very grateful for this opportunity to bring him to music therapy – thank you once again for offering this to him (and me) as a regular out of school activity.” Parent of boy with special educational needs

“My son had weekly Music Therapy sessions at Richmond Music Trust for 8 years between the ages of 11 and 19. Initially, I wanted to give him a space to explore creative expression through a medium he loved without pressure of judgement. I wanted him to learn outside the educational straitjacket of linear progression and to have the opportunity to experiment with lots of instruments whilst remaining with one therapist. From the beginning I felt that this would be a significant relationship for him and that he should be the one to make the choice between the 2 Music Therapy practices I had found. This was the first real decision I had ever asked him to make on his own. Without hesitation he chose Andreas and Richmond Music Trust. His special educational needs meant that school was often an unremitting reinforcement of not fitting in, failing to connect with peers, failing to stand up for himself and failing to achieve. Through all the pressures of adolescence and school transitions, bullying and isolation, Music Therapy provided continuous and protected space and time for self-expression, a place to nurture his self-esteem and, I strongly believe that, at times, this was one of the very few things that kept him going. He relied on his sessions and was devastated if, very occasionally, a session couldn’t take place. It fulfilled a fundamental need that he clearly felt but couldn’t amplify in words other than to say, at the end of every session, “I feel calm now”. I cannot think of anything else that could have offered him the same brief but vital breathing space each week throughout his teenage years. I thought of Music therapy as his rock to hold onto when school life was disintegrating. I believe he felt the same way.”
Parent of a young person with special educational needs 

“The activities which Jane enjoys are quite limited. She is not able to “play” alone so requires adult support to get her engaged and active. Music seems to be something she enjoys and she has actively participated in the sessions she has attended. Jane enjoys music and will sit and listen to it. She also responds well to 1 on 1 time and physical activity so these 3 facets combined together which they do in the music sessions work well for her in getting her engaged and productive.” Parent of child with learning disabilities 

Children and Young People with autistic spectrum conditions

“It’s great to see him chill out with someone.  He loves singing with you and talking with you.” Mother of teenage boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“As he came to trust and value his relationship with his Music Therapist he gradually embraced sound as a much needed source of expression and an outlet for his emotions…… Music has become an important part of his life and his rapport with his therapist has been key to his development. As his appreciation of music grows, so too does his ability to communicate. He now has more common ground with his siblings, peer group and the wider world.” Father of a 14 year old boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“Johann* took a while to settle in and let us leave the therapy room at first. Now after 2 blocks of therapy he cannot wait to see Cheow every Saturday and anticipates it as part of his routine and really enjoys the time he gets with Cheow to play music. Johann has become more vocal and expressive with his development, he is also much calmer and less explosive when things don’t quite go as he wants. Also in excitement to go to music therapy he has started to take his clothes out and dress himself.  Johann enjoys music and is playing his instruments at home in a less destructive way and even involving us and his toys to be part of the band! This is a new thing for Johann and we are disappointed we are unable to continue to come. Music therapy has been something he has fully engaged with.” Parent of a child with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“Tomaz* still has really enjoyed I think every aspect of the sessions and brought along his own instruments and other items to use in a music sessions, he has also been able to just talk to his music therapist (something he really doesn’t do) so this is great, especially as his Dad has been very unwell and in and out of hospital many times, so an outlet to take has been amazing for him. Maja has been kind and considerate of Tomaz and his feelings in each session and she comes out to update me every time, I would like if you could pass on our thanks for her work with Tomaz and how much she has supported and encouraged him through music. I am sure he is going to miss her.” Parent of a boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“Liam* continues to display periods of intense distress and mood swings in keeping with his diagnosed condition. It hasn’t really helped with this as initially intended but he has really made massive strides in speech, signing and seeking one to one interaction and dialogue. It is really amazing but I am sure music therapy has done something to stimulate his ability to take this information on and to verbalise, copy signs.” Parent of a boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“I found the music therapy to be very ideal for him due to his autism. In a relaxed environment he is learning to interact better. He has improved since he started therapy. He is taking turns and making really good eye contact. He is starting to be vocal and would like to see more of this. I found the service to be really good. There was a lot of understanding of his autism and a lot of effort was done by his therapist to ensure he is relaxed and that helped him to learn to interact better.” Parent of a boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“He started off not talking at all during the sessions and has progressed to being very expressive and chatty, enjoying repeating his favourite games every week and trying out new instruments. Initially he needed a parent to be in the room joining in but has progressed to going in by himself.” Parent of boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“Completing our Music Therapy sessions with Cheow definitely feel like an end of an era. Nuri* is a non-verbal, autistic 5 year. His first session consisted mainly of screams. Over the months as he got used to the routine of going he has had some great sessions and has shown an overall positive development. When we tell him it’s time for Music Therapy he gets ready with a big smile on his face. After the session he is composed and calm, which is refreshing as his general behaviour can be quite erratic. Nuri has explored singing a lot of his own compositions in his own language. He also explored the percussive instruments. It has been great to have had this opportunity and to see how Nuri has approached it. We feel he is very musical as he has a good sense of timing and melody. The session really enabled him to explore these areas and therapist Cheow has been perfect guidance for him working with him at his pace. Taking the time out to find out about his quirks and obsessions and using it in a positive way with great compassion and understanding. We hope he can continue Music Therapy at school and with any luck come back to Cheow at a later date for more sessions.” Parent of boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“It was pleasure to meet Ms. Maja (first music therapist). Her knowledge apart from music, which is her expertise is wonderful. She knows how to deal with these children. She has completely understood my child and did her best according to my child’s ability. My child has benefitted a lot. I am very happy that he got a chance to interact ..and he has been exposed in a different environment. From the level that he was exploring the instruments as objects..he allowed the therapist to play along with him at the same time.” Parent of child with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“Music therapy is the best thing that has probably ever happened to him. It’s amazing. Leon* is extremely musical and highly autistic. Mo has him down pat.  The best that happened last week is that Leon actually started looking at Mo, not properly but it was an unbelievable moment.  You can’t know how grateful we are for these sessions.” Parent of young person with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“Our son is happy to go to music therapy and to meet Cheow. He has a very strong personality so sometimes I can hear him shouting in the music therapy room trying to get his way on things, but when he comes out he is always happy and can tell me how the therapist was trying to teach him through their interaction how to share/take turns/understand each other’s feelings. He likes to try to play the instruments and to sing, even if often he would like only to sing what and when he likes.” Parent of boy with Autistic Spectrum Condition

“At the age of 3, my daughter was lost in her own little world. Mild ASD was considered as a possible reason (although later rescinded) and she was already benefiting greatly from attending a nursery for children with social communication disorders. Coming from a musical family, music therapy seemed the obvious next step and she took to it like a duck to water. Not only did she leave her own little stratosphere, I often heard her through the door ‘bossing’ the therapist, Andreas, around and her interactive confidence soaring! Andreas used musical improvisation between them both as a tool to develop a more equal and mutual “conversation” by enhancing her listening skills and encouraging her to react to his playing, as he responded to hers. The improvements over that time were dramatic. Many people who meet my daughter show great surprise that she ever had a problem and she now enjoys an extremely happy, full and sociable mainstream school life. Thank you, Richmond Music Trust.” Parent of young girl Autistic Spectrum Condition

“My son is 10½ years old, has Asperger’s Syndrome and has been going to weekly Music Therapy sessions for over two years.  When he began Music Therapy, he was having a very difficult time in school, which had begun to affect his home life as well. His attention span was fleeting, he was very easily distracted and he would avoid any kind of confrontation (good or bad).We are now in a much more positive place and my son is in full-time education in a mainstream setting.  He is confident, happy, and is about to take his Grade 2 saxophone and has taken up Karate (currently a purple & white belt!). For him to have sufficient levels of concentration to take up a musical instrument (which he did ten months ago) or to attend Karate classes would have been unthinkable two years ago. Music Therapy has been our rock over the last two and a half years.  The weekly sessions have been a place of sanctuary for my son when things were very difficult.  Over time, he has increased his confidence and ability to work to another’s agenda (in this case the Music Therapist’s) in a safe, creative setting. Between them, my son and the music therapist explored magical, hidden and sometimes dangerous worlds.  Long stories involving characters in his life were played out, with music, behind the therapy room doors.  These days my son brings his saxophone to the therapy sessions and the music therapist and my boy play and sing together – inventing songs and sounds as they go.  The therapy sessions will, I think, come to a natural end at some point.  But they will have played an important part in my son’s development and ongoing ability to manage life.”Parent of a young person with Autistic Spectrum Condition

Children and Young People with social, emotional & mental health needs

“It makes me feel good inside” 9 year old boy with social, emotional and mental health needs.

“The music trust/ music therapy is very important to me. When I was in a very bad place and didn’t see any hope for anything Lucy was there to keep me encouraged and engaged in my love for music and musical theatre! On some days when I didn’t feel like singing or talking Lucy completely understood that and there was always so many more options to choose from! Music therapy is such an important key part of my week (until Covid). Even during covid-19 Lucy made the effort to call me/mum for a little chat and check-up.”  14 year old girl with social, emotional and mental health needs

“My son has been in Music Therapy for a year. We had been struggling with his emotional and aggressive outbursts at home and a difficulty in getting him to attend school. He had been to many therapies in a bid to help him regulate his overwhelming feelings since his placement with us for adoption several years ago. The weekly therapy he has received has been remarkably successful. He is able to express himself more freely and his empathy has developed. We have never had the same issues over going to school! On top of all this he really enjoys the sessions and they are fostering his listening and creativity skills.”  Mother of 9-year old boy with social, emotional and mental health needs

“A few weeks before Christmas, a lady called in a warm, kind, non-judgemental voice and said,  “can we help?” From that moment my daughter began her journey with RMT Music Therapy. Singing is my daughters passion so Lucy took her along that path, there were days when Amy* didn’t want to sing so the skilled therapist knew just how to help her through, adjusting the session in accordance with Amy’s emotions on the day. I can honestly say that after each session Amy certainly came out brighter than she went in.  The sessions have helped my daughter strengthen her emotional resilience and given her the confidence to carry on. Without the support and commitment of RMT I believe she would still be struggling; long may this vital service continue.
With heartfelt thanks”  Parent of a 14 year old girl with social, emotional and mental health needs

“I just wanted to thank you sooooooooooo much for providing our family with music therapy classes. They have brought such joy and laughter to the whole family (even Mia* attended a couple of sessions and my mum came to one too and said she hadn’t had such fun in a long time).  They really made us all very happy – whether it was singing, playing instruments or dancing and provided half an hour each week when the girls weren’t fighting with each other at home but having lots of fun in a joint activity there were both able to participate in. Kamila, it’s been a real pleasure coming to see you every week.  Thank you so much.”  Parent of two siblings (one of which has a life limiting condition) accessing joint sessions

Online Music Therapy

“RMT’s music therapy, delivered online via video conferencing, has been an invaluable source of support for our family during the last few months. Our children both started music therapy during the pandemic and, due to Covid lockdown and our family being in shielding, sessions had to take place online. Initially, we wondered whether this would work and whether it would be as effective as in-person sessions. Our experience is so positive that we now feel that online therapy actually offers some distinct advantages over in-person child psychotherapy, particularly to children such as ours, who are easily distracted, hypervigilant and have anxiety issues. Our children used to find it difficult to focus and engage with previous therapists when attending in person at the clinic. Also, a variety of approaches to play therapy, art therapy and integrative child psychotherapy have previously failed to engage our children in the therapeutic process. Music therapy, on the other hand reaches our children and allows them to open up and engage without finding the process intrusive. Hence, for the first time in years we notice progress in our children’s willingness to reflect and talk about their feelings and share these thoughts both with the therapist and within the family. The online delivery supports this on many levels. For example, video conferencing reduces our children’s anxiety because they are at home during sessions, in their familiar environment, where they feel safe and in control of their interaction with their therapist who is fully focussed on them, but has not physically entered their safe space. Also, it helps a child with attention difficulties to focus on the therapist when the latter is confined to a screen rather than part of a 3D environment with many potential distractions. Due to a number of medical conditions our family has been in full time shielding for the last eight months, and both our children’s music therapists have been a great and essential support during this difficult time. We are most grateful to RMT’s therapy team for their support, both to our children, in terms of their development and mental health needs, and to the family as a whole in terms of the positive effects on the children’s regulation and ability to communicate. If there is a silver lining to lockdown, it is that we would never otherwise have found out about the distinct benefits of online music therapy.”  Parent of children with autistic spectrum condition and learning disabilites accessing music therapy via video link.

Joe* has started to learn to play the guitar, can play some basic chords, and sing along.  Definitely not the same as in person, but these sessions have worked really well for Joe.”
Parent of a child accessing music therapy via video link

“Found the whole experience a positive one, especially as my child looked forward to the sessions. Would love the sessions to continue either via zoom, or in person.”  Parent of a child accessing music therapy via video link

“At first I had to stay with Sam* and make sure he does pay attention but then I got a little keyboard for him and he immediately felt involved in the lessons and became more interested. Sam* likes life communication and it was such a transition for him to do music therapy online but our tutor Sara was great. She managed to get Sam’s attention and sometimes interest him for an hour which is an achievement for him. She is really great and we are sad our sessions are finished :(“  Parent of a boy with autistic spectrum condition accessing music therapy via video link

“My daughter has been doing zoom  music therapy sessions with Crystal during lockdown. I was a little apprehensive and dubious at first thinking that it would not give her the initial feedback and response she may get from a real face to face session. I was pleasantly surprised at the first session when I put down her musical Instrument and with Crystal on the screen. Straight away my daughter started playing the instrument. I have been at every session and it has worked perfectly. I have seen my daughters confidence and self-esteem grow over the last few months. My daughter is non-verbal and has very limited use of her hands. Music is a way for her to communicate to be heard. My daughter responds very well to Crystal and they are a perfect team!  Crystal is able to read my daughter’s cues and she is able to keep my daughter fully engaged throughout the whole session.”  Mother of an 11 year old girl accessing music therapy via video link.

Adults with learning disabilities

“I like everything; I like guitar, I like the drums, the microphone, the cymbal. I feel good, nice music makes me happy with friends. The music helps me when I feel sad.”  Client with moderate learning disabilities

“Music helps me to relax and chill. Music is a big part of life, it calms you down.”  Client with mild learning disabilities

“Brilliant, that was lovely … really good, yeah.”
Client with moderate learning disabilities

“That was amazing. I can’t believe how much she was responding.”
Manager of a care home for residents with multiple profound learning disabilities

“He is always more relaxed and happy when he comes out of his music therapy session.”
Carer of client with autism and high levels of anxiety

“I feel the session provides a therapeutic space in which I have seen both individuals develop in confidence and really enjoy themselves!”
Manager of a care home for adults with moderate learning disabilities

“He was extremely animated during his music therapy session.”
Manager of a care home for residents with multiple profound learning disabilities

“The present time can be considered as the most disruptive period for particularly those who are Autistic, as they are always quite particular about the routine.  This lockdown has completely devastated them and in-order to show our care and understanding we must and we have to do things which they are found of and particularly for Autism, music is the best let out. The reason for the Autism individual is because Music have order and natural flow which helps them to connect and calm them down.  For my son our music therapist has worked hard these lockdown months and he fully enjoyed the online session. However they are not the same as in person but it was something. I believe it’s a good start for them to adapt to online and hope they get hands on to it in a greater sense. I as a mother of an autistic adult and also being a full carer see the way how music calms my son down. We appreciate your institute and you Crystal for good work. Thank you very much!”  Parent of an adult with learning disabilities accessing music therapy sessions via video link

“May I also add how delighted we are that Surinda* has her music therapy sessions. She loves them and they are so good for her. At her last annual health check with her care team and Kingston social services, it was noted how much more engaged and communicative Surinda has become since her therapy began, so my heartfelt thanks to all of you at Richmond Music Trust.”  Parent of a young woman with learning disabilities.

“What a journey this has been for us all! You will be truly missed by Colin*, his support team and myself. Your diligence, dedication, drive, care and thoughtfulness are all truly admirable. Colin has come a long way since first attending your sessions and the continuity in your delivery has undoubtedly increased his self-efficacy and confidence noticeably.  We have enjoyed partnering with you and so thank you for all that you have done and for all that you are. Throughout some very unsettled times, you have contributed to my son embarking on his journey of recovery and self-discovery with renewed vigour. Your contribution has been invaluable and priceless!”  Parent of young man with learning disabilities

“Music Therapy is the absolute highlight of our daughter’s week. It gives her an opportunity to explore her love of music, work through some of her feelings, try out instruments and even have a bit of a dance. The sessions have a massive positive impact on her mental health as well as improving her speech, communication and social skills. Her confidence has grown immensely since she first started. Music therapy anchors her week and gives her something to look forward to, it is a life line for our family.”  Father of a young woman with learning disabilities and Autistic spectrum Condition

“He is always more relaxed and happy when he comes out of is music therapy session.”  Carer of man with Autistic spectrum Condition and high levels of anxiety  

Adults with mental health needs

“The music therapy has been invaluable to me, it’s really helped me to put to these difficult feelings and emotions, into perspective, and it’s helped me to express all the traumatic events in a healthy way, Andreas the therapist is absolutely brilliant a very understanding about the trauma I have been through, and was completely understanding about my relationship with music, and how it relates to the sound track of my life, music therapy has helped to understand things at a deeper level and I really would like to continue music therapy because it’s really helped to get these traumatic events out and see that I can make a new life and with Andreas I feel like he completely understands my situations, so the music has been absolutely brilliant for me and very beneficial.”

Older Adults

Feedback from older adults with Dementia

“It helps your moods. Definitely somewhere to express my feelings”

“Very nice, … music is everything, … I have a guitar at home, .. Singing is nice when two are together, … I used to sing with my brothers,….”

“First you can’t think but then you suddenly,..… it (the words) comes out.”

“Nice, I like xylophone”

Feedback from people supporting adults with dementia

“Following two meetings with Andreas from Richmond Music Trust, I was delighted that funding was approved for music therapy sessions to commence at Twickenham Intensive Day Care Centre. We identified a number of service users, ranging from early seventies to mid nineties, who we thought would benefit.  This group has now been running for approximately 2 months and has been exceptionally well received.  The lead therapist has a structured but very informal style and ensures maximum participation from all group members.  I have observed a 93 year old lady who lives on her own and is prone to depression and she was lively and animated throughout the session.  Clearly this service is benefiting all those who take part. A member of my staff team also joins the group and has learned a number of new techniques for supporting older people through the medium of music.”  Manager of a Day Centre for older adults with Dementia

“Music therapy at Richmond Music Trust has been the one constant in Dad’s life since he was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia early last year. His therapist is the only person I know who has taken Dad at face value from the outset and related to him as the person he is and the person he is becoming. She has helped him to maintain elements in his life which he would otherwise have lost and celebrate the skills which he still has. Although music is Dad’s passion and he adores singing with Olivia, the service that is offered runs far deeper than that and Dad is more able to verbalise his feelings. No one else really talks to him about what is going on and to bridge that professional gap has been a lifesaver. It has helped Dad to confront these changes. She is supportive, friendly, kind and caring and clearly has Dad’s best interests at heart. When the session has finished, Dad’s voice is actually higher than when we went in. It is incredibly therapeutic for him and you can see the sense of release as he relaxes. Afterwards, he is often reflective and sometimes sleepy but that is because he’s accessing parts of his brain that are harder to use – so I believe! I have nothing but praise for this wonderful service and hope that more people, whatever their need/condition, have ready access to music therapy.”  Daughter of an older adult with Dementia.

“As you are aware my father-in-law has music therapy on a weekly basis.  He has difficulties in communication and expression as a result of his Dementia.  Whilst Music Therapy is not a ‘cure’, it is a wonderful opportunity for him to express himself and communicate; both things denied him by his condition. Often we look for cures and improvement in these therapies hoping that somehow our loved one will be restored back to their former selves, and as a result, we can often be disappointed by the lack of cure and improvement feeling that the therapy isn’t worth while.  As Dementia locks us into our personal worlds, music therapy can release us from our limitations and help us make contact with other people.  This is especially important as it is the abstract mind that remains intact after the concrete mind has weakened and the abstract mind is the field of consciousness for music.  Watching him sing and respond to music through the gentle hands of the therapist means that his quality of life is better, and for a brief moment he is unlocked from his mental prison and allowed to relate and respond to other human beings.”  Carer of an older adult with Dementia

“I feel the session provide a therapeutic space in which I have seen both individuals develop in confidence and really enjoy themselves!”  Care home manager

“I came across Richmond Music Trust when trying to find a music based therapy for my husband who was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease in 2014.  We started session in July 2019 but I wish we had started much sooner when Alan* could remember words and still play fairly well.   Singing and music were and still are a passion for Alan and although sadly he can no longer remember all the words or play, he gets tremendous enjoyment from Wim’s singing and joins in when he can or whistles along.  Alan is a trained singer and probably knows all music from the West End shows!  Wim sings a selection of songs from these as well as other songs from artists that Alan likes or would know.  He also sings songs that are special to Alan or us.  This brings back some wonderful memories for Alan which we talk of, reminiscing of times we enjoyed together so he verbally communicates more.  But it is not just verbal communication, we also dance!  And it is good to see him move his body and feel and express himself through the rhythm of the music.  He becomes much more animated in the sessions and there is a deep connection with the singing and music.  Alan feels at ease with Wim and looks forward to his visits.  Whatever mood he is in before, he is always calmer and happier after the sessions and much more engaged with life.  They are quite simply a blessing.”   Wife of a man with Dementia