Emeritus Professor Amelia Oldfield

Emeritus Professor of Music Therapy

Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR)

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:Cambridge School of Creative Industries

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Music therapy

Research Supervision:Yes

Courses taught: Music Therapy

Amelia has worked as a clinical music therapist in Cambridge for the past 37 years, and is a member of the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR). She currently divides her time between clinical work with children and families, plus music therapy teaching and research.



In 1994, Amelia co-initiated the two-year MA Music Therapy course at Anglia Ruskin University. She gives weekly music therapy lectures and workshops on her special areas of clinical expertise which include autism, developmental difficulties, child psychiatry, working with families and diagnostic assessments. She also teaches single line clinical improvisation and is particularly interested in encouraging students to use orchestral instruments in their music therapy work.

Amelia has completed four music therapy research investigations. In December 2012 she organised a successful, two-day conference at Anglia Ruskin University, during which 50 speakers from across the world presented papers and workshops. She has also published numerous articles and seven books, two of which focus on her specialised music therapy approach with children and their families which she developed through clinical practice and research.

As co-editor of three recent books, Amelia has encouraged and supported other music therapists to write about clinical approaches with families and working in schools. The latest book, published in 2015, gathered together case studies from 57 music therapists all over the world, reporting on how they used their first orchestral instrument in their work. Three of her books have been translated into other languages including Russian, Greek, Japanese, Korean and French. Amelia is regularly asked to present her work both in the UK and abroad and has been invited to give 15 keynote speeches at music therapy conferences.

Research interests

  • Music therapy and families
  • Music therapy with children with autism
  • The use of orchestral instruments in music therapy
  • Diagnostic music therapy
  • Combining music therapy and drama therapy techniques

Areas of research supervision

  • Currently supervises six music therapy PhD students (four as first supervisor and two as second supervisor)
  • Has examined three PhD students, one at Roehampton University (2010), one at Jyväskylä University, Finland (2013) and one at Anglia Ruskin University (2016). All students were successful.
  • 2009 and 2012: external examiner for two PhD Elaborate proposals at Aalborg University, Denmark.
  • 2012, 2013 and 2016: external examiner for three Masters Exegesis for the Master of Music Therapy Programme in Wellington, New Zealand.
  • 2010–2014: research consultant for a three-year music therapy research investigation in Northern Ireland in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, which has received a £100,000 grant from the Big Lottery Research Fund.
  • 2013 - ongoing: Research consultant and clinical supervisor on two arms of the Time-A trials in Cambridge. This is a large international RCT music therapy research investigation led by Christan Gold in Bergen, Norway. Two separate sources of income were generated for these trials.


  • PhD Music Therapy, Anglia Ruskin University
  • MPhil Music Therapy, City University, London
  • Licentiate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (music therapy)

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Registered with the Health Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Member of the Advisory Editorial Panel of the British Journal of Music Therapy from 1990 onwards
  • Member of the Editorial Board for the Australian Journal of Music Therapy from 2009 onwards

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • Chairperson of the Association of Professional Music Therapists in 1987 and 1988
  • Between 2000 and 2002, on the Scientific Committee to prepare the 10th World Music Therapy Conference held in Oxford in 2002
  • March 2011–ongoing: on the Advisory Panel for Sing and Grow UK, which became CHROMA in 2014
  • Spring and summer 2013: on the Scientific Committee to prepare the Congrès International de Haut Niveau: Autismes et Musicothérapie; Réflections humanistes et scientifiques, Corse, France
  • 2013/2014 invited onto the Scientific Committee to prepare the British Association of Music Therapy National Conference held in Birmingham in February 2014
  • Since 2010: visiting professor for music therapy training course at the Fachhochschule in Würzburg, Germany (one or two visits every two years, teaching in German)
  • Since 2009: visiting professor for music therapy training course at the Université de Montpellier, France  (one or two weeks a year, teaching in French)


  • Video: Oldfield, A., Macdonald, R. and Nudds, J., 1999. Training as a Music Therapist: the MA in Music Therapy at APU. Received a Commendation from the Royal Television Society, East Anglia, Non-Broadcast Video of the Year 1999-2000 Award
  • Video: Oldfield, A. and Nudds, J., 2002. Joshua and Barry – Music Therapy with a Partially Sighted Little Boy with Cerebral Palsy. Winner of the Royal Television Society, East Anglia, Non-Broadcast Video of the Year 2002-03 Award
  • May 2011, the CIMTR Canadian International Music Therapy Research Centre Award for Outstanding International Music Therapy Research from the Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario Canada
  • July 2014, the Clinical Impact Award from the World Federation of Music Therapists

Selected recent publications

Oldfield, A, (2016d) Music Therapy with Families in a Psychiatric Children’s Unit in: S. Lindahl Jacobsen and G. Thompson (eds) Models of Music Therapy with Families, Jessica Kingsley Publications.

Oldfield, A. (2016c) Emotional Expression in Family Music Therapy, in: L.Konieczna (ed) Emotional Expression and Music Therapy, Katowice, The Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music Press, pp. 115-128.

Oldfield, A. (2016b) Family approaches in music therapy with young children in: The Oxford Handbook of Music Therapy, edited by Jane Edwards, Oxford University Press, pp. 158-175.

Oldfield, A. (2016a) The Future of Music Therapy with Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in: C. Dileo (ed) Envisioning the future of music therapy. Published by Temple University’s Arts and Quality of Life Research Center, USA, pp. 96-103.

Oldfield, A, Tomlinson, J and Loombe, D. (2015) Flute, Accordion or Clarinet? Using the characteristic of our instruments in music therapy. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Oldfield, A. (2015) 35 years as a music therapist – the best job in the world…, Music Therapy Today, World Federation of Music Therapy online journal, Spring 2015, 11(1), 150-161

Oldfield, A., Bell, K., and Poole, J.A., 2012. Three Families and Three Music therapists; Reflections on Short-term Music Therapy in Child and Family Psychiatry. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 21(3), pp.250-267.

Oldfield, A., 2011. Exploring Issues of Control through Interactive Improvised Music Making. In: Meadows, T. (Ed.). Developments in Music Therapy Practice: Case Examples. USA: Barcellona Publishers, pp.104-118.

Oldfield, A., 2011. Parents' Perceptions of Being in Music Therapy with their Children. In: Edwards, J. (Ed.). Music in Parent-Infant Programmes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp.58-72.

Haire, N. and Oldfield, A., 2009. Adding Humour to the Music Therapist's tool-kit: Reflections on its Role in Child Psychiatry. British Journal of Music Therapy, 23(1), pp.27-34.

Oldfield, A., 2008. Supervision of Music Therapists Working with Children in Schools. In: Odell-Miller, H. and Richards, E. (Eds.). Supervision of Music Therapy. Rutledge, pp.135-151.

Oldfield, A. and Franke, C., 2005. Improvised Songs and Stories in Music Therapy Diagnostic Assessments at a Unit for Child and Family Psychiatry - A Music Therapist's and a Psychotherapist's Perspective. In: Wigram, T. and Baker, F. (Eds). Songwriting, Methods, Techniques and Clinical Applications for Music Therapy Clinicians, Educators and Students. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp.24-44.

Tomlinson, J., Derrington, P. and Oldfield, A., 2012.Music Therapy in Schools: Working with Children of all Ages in Mainstream and Special Education. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Holmes, J., Oldfield, A. and Polichroniadis, M., 2011. Creating Change for Complex Children and their Families; A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Multi-Family Work. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Oldfield, A. and Flower, C. (Eds)., 2008. Music Therapy with Children and their Families. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Korean translation was published in 2013.

Oldfield, A., 2006a. Interactive Music Therapy, A Positive Approach - Music Therapy at a Child Development Centre. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. French translation published by l'Harmatan in 2012.

Oldfield, A., 2006b. Interactive Music Therapy in Child and Family Psychiatry - Clinical practice, research and teaching. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Bean, J. and Oldfield, A., 1991.Pied Piper - Musical Activities to Develop Basic Skills. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. This book was re-printed by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2001. It has been translated into Russian (two editions), Japanese and Greek.

Oldfield, A. and Franke C., 2005. Improvised Songs and Stories in Music Therapy Diagnostic Assessments at a Unit for Child and Family Psychiatry - A Music Therapist's and a Psychotherapist's Perspective. In: Wigram, T. and Baker, F. (Eds.). Songwriting, Methods, Techniques and Clinical Applications for Music Therapy Clinicians, Educators and Students. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp.24-44.

Recent presentations and conferences

Oldfield, A. 2016: (Keynote) 36 years as a music therapist with children and their families in the UK, lessons learnt and suggestions for the future, Inaugural music therapy conference: Music, Early Intervention, and Special Needs: Perspectives on Habilitation, Education, Sensory Integration and Well-being, Singapore, September 2016.

Oldfield, A. 2016: (Keynote) Stories in Music Therapy, II International Conference: Music, therapy, education, symbol, expression, perception, Akademia Muzyczna Im Karola Szymano, Katowice, Poland, 11-12 July 2016.

Oldfield, A., Tomlinson, J. and Loombe, D. 2016: Flute, accordion or clarinet? Supporting music therapists to use their first instrument in their clinical practice, 90 minute workshop, 10th European Music Therapy Conference, Vienna, Austria.

Oldfield, A. 2016: Intensive music therapy for young children with autistic spectrum disorder – A viable alternative?, Chair of 90 minute Roundtable at the National British Association of Music Therapy Conference (BAMT), in Glasgow.

Oldfield, A. 2016, Le rôle de l’écoute dans la musicothérapie active avec les enfants et leur famille, (presented in French) L’écoute en musicothérapie, Faculté de Medecine, Nantes, France.

Oldfield, A. 2015, Expression vocale en musicothérapie avec de jeunes enfants autistes et leurs familles (presented in French), Emergences du langage, Conference de la CIPPA (Coordination Internationalles de Psychothérapeutes, Psychanalystes et membres associés s’occupant de Personnes avec Autismes) Paris, France.

Oldfield, A. 2015, The future of Music Therapy and Autism, Envisioning the Future of Music Therapy, at Temple University, Philadelphia, USA.

Oldfield, A. 2014, (special guest lecture) Music therapy with children with autistic spectrum disorder, focusing on the role of the music and the role of the relationships, 14th National Conference of the Japanese Music Therapy Association in Nagoya, Japan.

Oldfield, A. 2014, Short –Term Music Therapy in Child and Family Psychiatry; What are the Benefits?, 14th World Congress of Music Therapy, Cultural Diversity in Music Therapy Practice, Research and Education, Krems, Austria.

Oldfield, A. and Loombe, D. 2014 (workshop) Calling all Orchestral Music Therapists….An Exploration of How Music Therapists use their own Instrument in Clinical Practice. Counterpoints: Music Therapy Practice in the 21st Century: First British Association for Music Therapy Conference, Birmingham, UK.

Oldfield, A. 2013 L’Intérêt de l’accompagnement des parents et des enfants autistes en musicothérapie (presented in French) Congrès International de Haut Niveau: Autismes et Musicothérapie; Réflections humanistes et scientifiques, Corse, France.

Oldfield, A. and O’Hanrahan, A. 2012 Movement, Pre-verbal Play and Music to Connect with a 9 Year Old Girl with Autism and Severe Aggression, Music Therapy and Dramatherapy with Children in Educational and Other Settings, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

Oldfield, A., 2012. Musicothérapie: un espace de rencontre avec le sujet en souffrance (presented in French). Troisiemes Assises du Médico-social, Intitutions et Créativité, November 2012, Nîmes, France.

Olfield, A., 2012 (keynote). Musiktherapie für das Kind und seine Familie Warum? (presented in German). Erste Würzburger Tagund zur Musiktherapie bei Behinderung und Demenz, September 2012, Würzburg, Germany.

Oldfield, A., 2012. Music Therapy with Pre-School Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and their Families: Investigating Clinical Practice. International Centre for Research in Arts Therapies (ICRA) Conference, July 2012, Conway Hall, London.

Olfield, A., 2012 (keynote). Musicothérapie Espace d'Expression Émotionnelle (presented in French), February 2012, Public Presentation at the University of Montpellier (Paul Valery).

Oldfield, A., 2011 (keynote). Play and Humour in Music Therapy with Children and their Families. Music Therapy: the Power of Play, Key Changes Music Therapy, annual conference, March 2011. 

Oldfield, A., 2010. Breaking communication barriers. TEDx Mediterranean, October 2010, Cannes, France.