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Kenneth Aigen


Music Therapy


    • B.A. Psychology, Philosophy, University of Wisconsin
      M.A. Music Therapy, New York University
      D.A. Music Therapy, New York University
      Board-Certified in Music Therapy
      Licensed Creative Arts Therapist (New York)
      Certification in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy

      Kenneth Aigen, DA, MT-BC, LCAT, earned his master’s degree in music therapy from New York University (NYU) in 1984 and his doctoral degree in 1991 also from NYU.  His music therapy studies took place after he earned a double degree in psychology and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. He is currently an Associate Professor in the music therapy program at Temple University.

      In 1983, Aigen began working for the New York City Board of Education, creating a pilot music therapy program for autistic and emotionally disabled children. After establish­ing and implementing this program for two years, he came to the Creative Arts Rehabilita­tion Center, Inc. (CARC) in New York City as the Clinical Coordinator where he worked with music therapy pioneer, Florence Tyson.  During this time, he developed various community outreach projects in addition to his efforts as a therapist, and his work in psychiatry and with hospitalized children was featured on the CBS show “Sunday Morning” hosted by Charles Kuralt.

      Earning a one-year research grant in 1989, . Aigen went to Aalborg University in Denmark in 1989 where he completed his doctoral dissertation concerning the development of appropriate research methodology for creative and improvisational music therapy practice. With these studies completed, he returned to CARC in 1990 as Co-Director.

      Aigen deepened his association with the university came to the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy in 1991 as Director of Research. In that capacity he published research articles and monographs focusing on the specific capacities evoked in disabled children through music, the various developmental processes demonstrated by clients in creative music therapy, and the novel qualitative research methods being developed to illuminate these processes. Upon coming to Temple University in 2006, his publication focus has broadened to include recent research articles on the use of music in clinical supervision, methodological analyses of qualitative research studies in music therapy, community music therapy, popular music and music therapy, musicological analyses of music therapy songs and improvisations, and community music therapy.

      Aigen is a former President of the American Association for Music Therapy (AAMT) and he has served on the Executive Board of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA). He served as the Scientific Chairman of the Ninth World Congress of Music Therapy and Chairman of the organizing committee of the Second International Symposium for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy, The Arts in Psychotherapy Qualitative Inquires in Music Therapy and is a former Associate Editor of the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy. He is the Chairman of the International Trust for Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and is the President of the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation. Awards and honors that he has received include the AMTA Research and Publications Award, the AMTA-MAR Presidential award, and the Edith Hillman Boxill award granted by New York University for distinguished achievement in music therapy.

      Last, he remains an active musician playing keyboards in jambands in the New York metropolitan area.

    • Kenneth Aigen Selected Publications


      Aigen, K.(2005). Music-centered music therapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.

      Aigen, K. (2003). A guide to writing and presenting in music therapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.

      Aigen, K. (2002/2005). Playin= in the band: A qualitative study of popular music styles as clinical improvisation (with DVD). Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.

      Aigen, K. (1998). Paths of development in Nordoff-Robbins music therapy. Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.

      Aigen, K. (1997). Here we are in music: One year with an adolescent, creative music therapy group. St. Louis, MO: MMB Music.

      Aigen, K. (1996/2005). Being in music: Foundations of Nordoff-Robbins music therapy. Gilsum,   NH: Barcelona.

      Aigen, K., M. Langenberg & J. Frommer (Eds.). (1996). Qualitative research in music therapy: Beginning dialogues. Gilsum, NH:  Barcelona.

      Books in Translation

         * Paths of Development in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (Japanese, 2001; Korean, 2009)

         * Music-Centered Music Therapy (Korean, 2011; Japanese translation in preparation)

      Refereed Journal Articles

      Aigen, K. & L. Young. (2010). Supervising the supervisor: The use of live music and identification of parallel processes. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 37(2), 125-134.

      Aigen, K. (2009). Verticality and containment in improvisation and song: An application of schema theory to Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy. Journal of Music Therapy, 46(3), 238-267.

      Aigen, K. (2008). The religious dimensions of popular music and their implications for music therapy. British Journal for Music Therapy, 22(1), 24-34.

      Aigen, K. (2008). An analysis of qualitative music therapy research reports 1987-2006: Doctoral studies. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 35(5), 307-319.

      Aigen, K. (2008). An analysis of qualitative music therapy research reports 1987-2006: Articles and book chapters. The Arts in Psychotherapy, 35(4), 251-261.

      Aigen, K. (2008). In defense of beauty: A role for the aesthetic in music therapy theory (part II).  Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 17(1), 3-18.

      Aigen, K. (2007). In defense of beauty: A role for the aesthetic in music therapy theory (part I): The development of aesthetic theory in music therapy. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 16(2), 112-128.

      Aigen, K. (2001). Popular musical styles in Nordoff-Robbins clinical improvisation. Music Therapy Perspectives, 19(1), 28-41.

      Aigen, K. (1998). Creativity in qualitative music therapy research. Journal of Music Therapy, 35(3), 150-175.

      Aigen, K. (1995). Cognitive and affective processes in music therapy with individuals with developmental delays: A preliminary model for contemporary Nordoff-Robbins practice. Music Therapy, 13(1), 13-46.

      Aigen, K. (1993). The music therapist as qualitative researcher. Music Therapy, 12(1), 16-39.

      Aigen, K. (1991). The voice of the forest: A conception of music for music therapy. Music Therapy, 10(1), 77-98.

      Aigen, K. (1990). Echoes of silence. Music Therapy, 9(1), 44-61.

      Book Chapters

      Aigen, K. (in press). Community music therapy. In G. McPherson & G. Welch (Eds.), Oxford handbook of music education. Oxford University Press.

      Aigen, K. (2005).Naturalistic inquiry. In Barbara L. Wheeler (Ed.), Music therapy research, 2nd edition (pp. 352-364). Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.

      Aigen, K. (2005). Philosophical inquiry. In Barbara L. Wheeler (Ed.), Music therapy research, 2nd edition (pp. 526-539). Gilsum, NH: Barcelona.

      Aigen, K. (2005). Writing the qualitative research report. In Barbara L. Wheeler (Ed.), Music therapy research, 2nd edition (pp. 210-225). Gilsum, New Hampshire: Barcelona Publishers.

      Aigen, K. (2004). Conversations on creating community: Performance as music therapy in New York City. In Mercédès Pavlicevic and Gary Ansdell (Eds.), Community music therapy: International perspectives (pp. 186-213). London: Jessica Kingsley.

      Aigen, K. (1995). The aesthetic foundation of clinical theory: A basis of Nordoff-Robbins music therapy. In Carolyn B. Kenny (Ed.), Listening, playing, creating: Essays on the power of sound (pp. 233-257). Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.

      Aigen, K. (1991). Creative fantasy, music and lyric improvisation with a gifted acting-out boy.

      In Kenneth E. Bruscia (Ed.), Case studies in music therapy (pp.109-126). Gilsum, New Hampshire: Barcelona Publishers.


    • Dr. Aigen will be presenting at the Annual Conference of the American Music Therapy Association in Chicago on October 12 & 13, 2012. He will be offering and individual talk on “Group Approaches in Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy” and will also be speaking on a panel exploring the legacy and professional impact of music therapy pioneer Dr. Clive Robbins.