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
- 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
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.”
By Robin Hindery ’03
Robin Hindery ’03 is a journalist based in New York