In memory of Jean EislerPosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

We mark the passing of Jean Eisler, an English Nordoff Robbins pioneer who died in August 2017

 Jean Eisler was recognised as one of the Nordoff Robbins music therapy pioneers in Fraser Simpson’s book “The Nordoff-Robbins Aventure: Fifty Years of Creative Music Therapy”.  Her work, together with Sybil Beresford-Peirse and other pioneers, played a crucial role in the establishment and development of Nordoff Robbins over the years.

Jean had celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday 12th of April 2016 with a packed hall of approx. 300 delegates (see a video clip here:


A Tribute to Linda WilsonPosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

From Daphne Rickson, Senior Lecturer in the Master of Music Therapy program at TeKōkī New Zealand School of Music (NZSM), Victoria University of Wellington.

Sadly, Linda Wilson died in June 2017.  Linda was a strong advocate for music therapy, and was dedicated to promoting the profession before, during, and after her time on Council.  She was a national and international leader in the occupational therapy field, having worked hospitals before expanding her career to include consultancy, contract work, teaching, and research.  Linda was the first member of the OT professional association, one of the first Occupational Therapists in New Zealand to gain a PhD, won OT’s Francis Rutherford Lecture award in 1996 and a Fulbright in 2009.  She set up the OT training programme in Dunedin in 1990, and continued to support its development from a bachelor’s programme to honours, PG Dip, and Masters. Linda was very willing to lend her expertise in the development of new professions, especially in strategic planning, to Music Therapy New Zealand. We were extremely grateful for the time, expertise, and extremely hard work she offered while on council, and for her subsequent ongoing support.

I offer my sincere sympathies to Linda’s family, and to the Occupational and Music Therapy communities.




A Tribute to Mary PriestleyPosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

Mary Priestley, Pioneer Music Therapist and Writer (1925-2017

From: Sarah Hoskyns, Associate Professor and Director of Master of Music Therapy Programme, New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī

I am very sad to announce that Mary Priestley, a music therapist with great international influence, who developed significant theory and practice in analytical music therapy, has died in June 2017. I am honoured to provide this tribute to Mary, who trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1969 and provided periodic teaching and supervision to the programme, while I was involved there both as a student and lecturer during the 1980s and 90s. We also shared a music therapy practice setting – the Inner London Probation Service Day Training Centre – where Mary worked alongside Peter Wright and Marjorie Wardle for a few years before me. I visited Mary’s home with varied colleagues a few times in the 1990s, and she was a warm, quirky and humorous host. Dr Morva Croxson attended a clinical placement at St Bernard’s Hospital, London in 1984, with Mary as one of the supervisors, while I was a tutor at Guildhall. Morva and I reflected warmly on our joint recollections of Mary’s work at that time in a recent conversation. Keynote speaker at the August 2017 Music Therapy New Zealand Symposium, Dr Diane Austin also has observed how formative Mary’s ideas were to her when she was developing her understanding of music therapy practice, specialising in vocal psychotherapy.

Mary was born in 1925 and was the daughter of Jane Lewis, and the English writer and playwright J.B. Priestley. In her early years of her education, Mary developed as a very keen artist and writer as well as a violinist, and her early work included being an illustrative researcher for a book on Benjamin Britten, playing in a professional string quartet and being a copy writer for the travel firm, Thomas Cooke. She was married for seven years to Danish violinist, Sigvald Michelsen, living in Denmark during that period, and had three sons (twins, and a younger son David).

Mary is an important writer in our field and was way ahead of her time.  She was developing thinking about the ideas of Jung, Klein and Freud in relation to music therapy before it was in-vogue to do so in the UK, and her influential books Music Therapy in Action (1975; 2012) and Essays in Analytical Music Therapy (1994) were republished by Professor Kenneth Bruscia and Barcelona Publishers in recent years, when the international field had caught up with her ideas. In 1999, at the Ninth World Congress of Music Therapy, Analytical Music Therapy (and Mary’s contribution) was honoured as one of the five major acknowledged approaches in the international field. Professor Susan Hadley’s doctoral research explored a narrative analysis of the life and works of Clive Robbins and Mary Priestley (Hadley, 1998; 2001) and Hadley and Bruscia have done much to remind us about Mary’s innovative place in our discipline. Professor Bruscia initiated an archive of Mary’s writings, case notes and recordings at Temple University, Philadelphia, such was his respect for her work.

I remember as a student being quite puzzled by Mary’s explanation in a lecture, of transference and countertransference in music and – to be honest – at the time I thought it was rather far-fetched. However it was interesting returning to her writing a few years later in the 1980s when I had gained more experience with people with mental health challenges. I found her explanation for example of Jung’s concept of the (bright) shadow, for people with long history of psychiatric illness, and her reflections on the wounded healer and understanding the transference relationship both moving and insightful when I was less naïve about clinical practice.  Music Therapy in Action was one of my first readings as an aspiring student in 1979, and it was very accessible, personal, and conceptually clear, and deeply interesting to me as a novice. She was gifted as a writer in inspiring and engaging the reader.

In an interview with Professor Leslie Bunt for the Voices Journal in 2004, Mary shared many insights about her life, and her passion for the field.  She was also frank and open about her own journey with mental illness and the support she had received from her analysts, Dr Gerald Wooster and Dr Joe Redfearn. She talked about family, inspiration, her music therapy work and the importance of the arts in her development. I recommend readers to Leslie Bunt’s warm and respectful conversation, and to Sue Hadley’s article in the Nordic Journal if they would like to know more about Mary and her work. Interestingly – in the continued tradition of being ahead of her time – Mary observed her concern, in the 2004 Voices interview, to preserve the “art” of music therapy:

“When I started I was an artist and I worked as an artist. I think now that the music therapist is asked more to be a scientist. It is more technical and intellectual now, more research. More therapists are becoming doctors of this and that. And videos of work and things like that. It’s a change and I feel slightly uneasy about that. I don’t think the artist should be lost.” (Bunt, 2004)

I think Mary would be pleased and satisfied at the recent surge of interest in arts-based research in music therapy, and that her values and principles as a teacher, supervisor, therapist and writer will be honoured and continued by those who follow her. Rest in peace Mary, and sincere thanks are due to you for your vision, artistic integrity and commitment to the music therapy field.


Bunt, L. (2004). Mary Priestley interviewed by Leslie Bunt. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 4(2). doi:10.15845/voices.v4i2.180


Music Therapy Web AlertPosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

By Alison Talmage and Libby Johns

The MThNZ website includes links to selected New Zealand and international music therapy service providers, associations and related organisations: Many music therapists in private practice have also developed websites highlighting their work and raising the profile of music therapy. Music therapist members of MThNZ can also provide online profiles including weblinks:

Here we highlight two private practice websites, with the approval of the music therapists concerned. If you would like to list or recommend a website, please contact the Administrator:

Sounding Board Music Therapy

Sounding Board is the website of Megan Spragg, a Melbourne-based NZ RMTh and Australian RMT. The website is simple in design and clear to read and navigate. The website outlines Megan’s services which are clinical supervision, mentoring for music therapists, music therapy consultation (including assessments and ongoing sessions) and resources. There is a page where people can listen to demos and purchase songs, composed by Megan. Megan is developing professional resources for her website and includes links to other music therapy websites.


Music for Life

Music for Life is the website and private practice of Rani Heath RMTh, based in the Hutt Valley and Greater Wellington region, offering services for children and adults with different learning abilities or mental health needs. The website outlines Rani’s approach and services offered, including individual and group work, consultations, presentations and workshops, and a brochure is also available for download. A testimonials page includes feedback from clients’ families and some media publications. Current fees are listed online, and contact details and an online form are provided for inquiries and referrals.



IHC Library Liaison – May CluleePosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

Kia Ora everyone. I have just taken on the role of IHC Library Liaison for Music Therapy NZ, and would like to introduce myself and give you some information about the library. 

May CluleeThe IHC Library in Wellington administers Music Therapy NZ’s library collection and I am excited to be part of promoting and growing our collection.  The Library has resources on all aspects of intellectual disability, autism and other developmental disabilities and is FREE to anyone living in New Zealand. Books are mailed out country wide at no cost if you are unable to visit in person. You only have to pay for the return postage. It’s an incredible resource available to us, so if you haven’t already done so, JOIN THE LIBRARY!

One of my jobs will be to recommend new books and resources to the IHC Librarian to purchase on behalf of Music Therapy NZ, and here is where I need your help to recommend books or other resources that you think would be worth adding to our collection.  Please contact Jenny, MThNZ Administrator or myself at

Here are some useful links to Music Therapy publishers to add to the Library wishlist:

Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Barcelona Publishers:


CeleBRation Choir News July 2017Posted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

CBR Music Therapy Week Neurological Choirs Workshop, in collaboration with MThNZ

This exciting gathering at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research (CBR) was planned in response to the growing number of choirs, singing groups and music therapy approaches for people living with a neurological condition. The CBR Music Therapy Week Neurological Choirs Workshop, in collaboration with MThNZ, was hosted by Professor Suzanne Purdy (Head of Speech Science at the University of Auckland, and the lead researcher with the CeleBRation Choir) , and Alison Talmage RMTh and Shari Storie RMTh who lead the Choir. Participants included music therapists, speech-language therapists, community musicians and students, from Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Palmerston North, the Wairarapa, Wellington, Dunedin… and a surprise guest was Stefano Bonnini, a statistician from the University of Ferrara, Italy, who was presenting a seminar at the University of Auckland.

The workshop incorporated both theoretical and experiential sessions, focusing on both musical approaches and information sharing about selected neurological conditions. Shari initiated an introductory session, inviting people to introduce themselves musically – while not wanting to put anyone on the spot, we acknowledged that this caused some anxiety, an experience shared by many people joining a choir or music therapy group for the first time. Alison gave a brief introduction to “neurological choirs” in New Zealand and acknowledged the overlapping interests of music therapists, speech-language therapists, musicians and community groups. Dr Clare McCann, Senior Lecturer in Speech Science, gave a presentation about aphasia and other communication difficulties arising from stroke. An overview of Parkinson’s disease was presented by Robin Matthews, Speech-Language Therapist for the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and founder of the Brainwave Singers, Tauranga. Robin is currently completing his PhD, focusing on the benefits of singing for people with Parkinson’s. Megan Berentson-Glass joined Alison to co-facilitate an experiential session, focusing on warm-ups, song choice, songleading, and balancing individual and group strengths, interests and needs. In the afternoon, participants joined the CeleBRation Choir for their regular weekly session, and several took the opportunity to lead a song.

The workshop was jointly funded by the University of Auckland, a modest registration fee, and a MThNZ Judith Clark grant towards travel expenses for some of our presenters. Feedback from both the choir members and the workshop participants was unanimously enthusiastic. Our next step is the more formal establishment of our network, with plans for a social media closed group to offer peer support. We invite others interested in this area to contact us. Selma Blazey, a MThNZ Friend member from the Bay of Plenty, also recommended that people with an interest in this field join MThNZ – membership information is available from

Research update

This year we have a Psychology Honours student, Jordyn Thompson, undertaking a research project that builds on last year’s investigation of choir experiences and quality of life for participants in two choirs for people living with a neurological condition. Jordyn’s work includes a survey of a purposive sample of community choir participants, to help us compare group data from these two groups. International research strongly supports singing for wellbeing, for the general population, and it will be good to have some New Zealand data. If you are interested in knowing more about this research, please email

The CeleBRation Choir is a social singing group for people living with neurological conditions, an initiative of the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research. For further information, see:, and please “like” our Facebook page:

Alison Talmage and Shari Storie




Music Therapy NZ Symposium 2017: Finding Your VoicePosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

Music Therapy NZ Symposium 2017: Finding Your Voice

The 2017 MThNZ Symposium, “Finding Your Voice”, took place over the weekend of the 12th and 14th of August, in the Massey building at Victoria University, Wellington.
Feedback from the symposium, both through the evaluation forms and verbally, has been overwhelmingly positive.

The opening ceremony was led by MThNZ Council member Nolan Hodgson. Both Nolan’s contribution, and that of Ricki Prebble on Taonga Puoro, were very favourably received. Closely connected to this was the Major Address by Waireti Roestenburg, titled Mai i te timatanga… reconnecting to source and finding our healing voices.

Visiting from USA, Dr Diane Austin was very well received as our keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Her vocal psychotherapy method was of great interest to many people, and the experiential nature of her presentations was appreciated.

Presentations from members were diverse, informative and entertaining, and included a performance from the Wellington neurological choir the SoundsWell Singers.  Our thanks to all contributors and organisers for a stimulating and enjoyable symposium.  We look forward to seeing you at our next symposium in 2019!

Dr Diane Austin (centre) leads participants in a workshop during the symposium 2017

Dr Diane Austin (centre) leads participants in a workshop during the symposium 2017


Queens Birthday Honours for Council Chair Linda WebbPosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

Music Therapy New Zealand would like to congratulate Council Chair, Linda Webb, on a well-deserved MNZM in the Queen’s Birthday Hons 2017, for services to music education.

LindaLinda has been a longtime champion of music therapy in New Zealand.  For a moment, Linda considered training as a music therapist, and in the early years completed several of the New Zealand Society for Music Therapy training courses and has served many years on the society’s executive committee (now council). But life had other ideas, which ultimately saw her carving out a career in music education.

It is clear Linda has a passion for music and in particular music education, which is evidenced not only by her professional achievements, but also her voluntary work.  This includes involvement with Auckland Children’s Music Centre, Music Education New Zealand Association, International Society for Music Education National Affiliate Council, and the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir Trust.

She did not turn her back on music therapy, however.  Linda has continued to support and advocate for music therapy, both as MThNZ Council member (past and present) and in her work in music education research and advocacy.  If you ever have an opportunity to talk with Linda, her passion for music therapy inevitably shines through.  We are delighted she is currently putting that passion to good use as Chair of MThNZ and also as an active member of the South Island Regional Group.  To read more about Linda’s achievements which have led to her being awarded the MNZM, please follow the link below – it makes for impressive reading!

Congratulations Linda!


WEBB, Mrs Linda Gloria

For services to music education

Mrs Linda Webb was on the Council of Music Therapy New Zealand from 1996 to 2006, and since re-joining in 2014, she has been appointed Chairperson.

Mrs Webb has actively supported music therapy at a local level in Auckland, and regionally in the South Island. Her volunteer work has included using music with children at various special education centres and schools. She set up and led the Auckland Children’s Music Centre from 1989 to 1992, and continued as a Management Committee member from 1994 to 1999. As a Board member and Chairperson, she was responsible for a long period of research, consultation, and rewriting of the constitution in transforming and rebranding the former New Zealand Society for Music Education to the current Music Education New Zealand Association. She has been involved with music education research and advocacy for several decades, and has presented at conferences locally and internationally. She is currently New Zealand’s representative on the International Society for Music Education National Affiliate Council. Mrs Webb has been Chairperson of the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir Trust Board since 2009, and has overseen extensive fundraising to ensure costs are minimalised for choir members.


50 years of IHCPosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

Daphne Rickson attended the IHC 50th Birthday Celebrations (on behalf of MThNZ), on 6th October. 

It was an excellent occasion celebrating the library growth in terms of members, books, and technology. Michael Holdsworth, who has worked at the library for 23 years, gave an impressive humorous and informative speech about the changes he has observed, particularly with the introduction of the electronic database.  Library staff have always been, and remain committed to getting the right information, to the right people, at the right time. The library website is now amazing – full of information, attractively presented, and easy to access.  The IHC library now houses an excellent range of music therapy texts.  All are easily accessed for free.  Some are eBooks, and others are posted to members at no cost. I would recommend that all MThNZ members be encouraged to join the IHC library (join online or email I would also recommend that each MThNZ member who joins the IHC Library be highly encouraged to donate one new music therapy book, perhaps even annually if they can.  By doing so the collection will remain up to date, and everyone will have access to dozens of useful texts for the cost of a few.


Best Student Poster Winner – Katie BoomPosted on: Friday, 15 December 2017

Katie Boom won Best Student Poster competition at the World Congress of Music Therapy in Japan 2017

Katie Boom“As a brand new music therapist, the 2017 World Congress of Music Therapy exceeded my expectations. I completed my Master of Music Therapy degree in February 2017, after two years of study at Victoria University of Wellington in my home country of Aotearoa New Zealand. This was my first international music therapy conference, so I was eagerly anticipating sharing my thesis research in the student poster session. Being given the Student Poster Award was the unexpected icing on the cake.

My thesis research offers a view of community music therapy in New Zealand, and suggests the integration of indigenous Māori concepts such as rangatiratanga (empowerment, self-determination), and the Māori mentoring model tuakana-teina, currently used in the NZ education system.

It also presents the resourcing of music therapy participants in terms of six resources, as demonstrated by my cartoon representation of the journey to musicking.

A special thanks to my lovely supervisor and tuakana, Dr. Sarah Hoskyns. “

A full copy of Katie’s published thesis is freely available here: