Web Exclusives: Alumni Spotlight

April 18, 2007:

Robert Accordino ’03

Robert Accordino ’03, center, co-founder of Music for Autism, which was honored in January by Cherie Booth, left, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. On the right is Christine Cairns, the organization’s co-founder. (Jim Four)

PROFILE - Robert Accordino ’03
Bringing music to autistic children

A lifelong singer, Robert Accordino ’03 knows the power of music to captivate and inspire. He is now tapping into that power to reach out to a diverse and poorly understood group: children with autism.

Accordino is co-founder of Music for Autism (www.MusicForAutism.org), a nonprofit that runs special music programs for autistic children and their families throughout the United Kingdom. The organization sponsors interactive concerts where children can react to music through dance and other spontaneous movement. Music for Autism also funds educational grants for music programs and supplies at special schools for children diagnosed with the disorder.

“Music is something that children with special needs can sometimes excel at and enjoy,” Accordino says.

Accordino became involved with the organization in 2003, a year after it was established, and was given the title “co-founder.” At the time he was carrying out autism research at Oxford. Since then he has seen the charity’s profile rise significantly: In January the group was honored by Cherie Booth, wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street.

Accordino says he views Music for Autism as the perfect marriage of his interests in the arts and healing — interests that were nurtured at Princeton. As a member of the Princeton Tigertones, he organized an AIDS fundraising concert at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center in 2001. In addition, for his senior thesis in the psychology department, he set up a music therapy program for children at the Eden Institute, a Princeton-based school for individuals with autism.

Since moving to New York in 2006 to attend Mount Sinai Medical School, Accordino has spearheaded the effort to create a Music for Autism sister charity in the United States. That expansion plan is steadily moving forward, and he hopes the group’s first fundraiser will take place by the end of the year.

“Too often there is an emphasis on what these individuals cannot do,” he says. “With Music for Autism, the goal is to celebrate their strengths.” P

By Robin Hindery ’03

Robin Hindery ’03 is a journalist based in New York City.