BRIT Trust Diaries: Sandra Schembri, CEO Nordoff Robbins

29July, 2022

The BRIT Trust is the principal charity of UK recorded music, and aims to improve lives through the power of music and the creative arts. Funded largely by the annual BRIT Awards and Music Industry Trust (MITS) events, the Trust’s work is enabled by a Board of Trustees chaired by Tony Wadsworth CBE.  Since its foundation by record labels and the BPI in 1989, the Trust has donated around £28m to a range of causes that promote education and wellbeing, including The BRIT School, Nordoff Robbins, Mind, Music Support, ELAM, and Key4Life.  To learn more visit www.brittrust.co.uk.

To help explain and promote the work of The BRIT Trust and the charities it supports, the Trust publishes a regular series of BRIT Trust Diaries which we hope will provide interesting insights.

Please allow us to introduce our latest contributor, Sandra Schembri, CEO Nordoff Robbins

Sandra Schembri, CEO Nordoff Robbins

Music’s impact on our daily lives cannot be underestimated. It can provide entertainment, moments of connection and build confidence. But dig deeper and we see the role it can have as a change agent with a significant impact on society. Here, Sandra Schembri, CEO of Nordoff Robbins, the UK’s largest music therapy charity, discusses the power of music and the impact it can have through therapy, education and collaboration.

“Universal values can live in music. That is why music can become so important in the lives of all of us.”

At Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy, our vision is clear; we see music as a superpower. We believe in the value of music for all people in our society. Music can connect everyone with their human potential and dignity, regardless of profound disability, illness or social exclusion.

We all feel this superpower of music. Whether it’s the connection you have with a family member singing a song, a festival you attend with your friends, or a student’s time training at The BRIT School. We feel it.

Nordoff Robbins chooses to tap into this power even further, working with people who, without the help of others, struggle to access the benefits that music therapy offer, including connection, communication, and equality. And the benefits of music therapy don’t stop when the sessions end.

In a music therapy session, we start to see what people can do rather than what they can't.  We see past their condition and witness their potential. This also has an impact on their family and carers. Music transcends disability and that is one of the true superpowers of music.

The importance of music in education: It will be obvious to anyone who is involved or has worked with The BRIT Trust and BRIT School why music in education is so important.

But it isn’t apparent to everyone. We’ve seen in recent times that it is falling down the agenda. And whilst we welcome the Welsh Government’s recent decision to treble funding for music education to as part of their National Plan for Music Education. We need to do more.

We see music as a human right. Everyone should have access from their earliest years. It can have such a positive impact in developing skills and providing an output. Which is why it must be part of our national curriculum.

Without music in education, we wouldn’t be able to train more music therapists, which would mean no music therapy. We want future Nordoff Robbins music therapists to come from every walk of life. They don’t need to be classically trained, or be Grade 8 certified, just have solid music experience. And we currently have Sony Music bursaries, making our Goldsmiths validated Master of Music Therapy (MMT) programme more accessible than ever.

The support of The BRIT Trust – a truly special relationship:  As a charity we receive no Government funding, so relationships like those with The BRIT Trust are so important to us. The BRIT Trust has given Nordoff Robbins a massive £8 million since we began our relationship over 30 years ago.

Through this support, we help to make music a part of the lives of those who may struggle to access what we know to be true – that music matters and we can truly come alive through music.

This funding doesn’t just directly go to music therapy either. Alongside money raised through partnerships, events and donations, it helps us to train the music therapists of tomorrow through our Masters programme, and it also helps us to continue our research into the many benefits of music and music therapy.

In music we are equal – through it we can see the world and those in it differently

Through music, Nordoff Robbins sees the possibility of a more connected society, one where we all have the means to participate and contribute.  So, let’s all stand together and harness the power of music.

If you share our vision, please support us and help to spread the word of music’s true power to connect us all.

To donate, get involved or find out more about Nordoff Robbins and its Masters programme, visit nordoff-robbins.org.uk