A new pursuit we have here at Oak Park Music Therapy is to provide you with some valuable resources for healthy living through music. I figured one way to do so is by writing reviews of projects done by other music therapists and musicians whose work I think is worth adding to your personal libraries. So without further delay, I’m today sharing my impressions of the CD collection for relaxation created by fellow music therapist, Ryan Judd, MA, MT-BC.
Ryan Judd’s “Rest and Relaxation 4 CD Set – Perfect for Meditation, Relaxation, and Sleep” is just that, perfect. Beginning with the packaging, the images accompanying the CD really gives you a sense of what to expect with beautiful photos that elicit the imagination. It includes 3 CDs of uninterrupted water sounds (ocean, stream, and rain) and restful guitar over ocean sounds.
If you are looking for a continuous play of over 60 minutes of “Calming Mountain Stream” sounds, this is the right recording for you. The high ends with the tinkling splashing sounds paired with the mid-range tones and subtle bounces of the stream gave me a lot to listen to while I fell asleep. Listening to the mid and high tones made me feel like I was right there taking a snooze in the sun by the river bank. The white noise of the stream in the background filled the space nicely. It’s a lovely consistent recording that will not surprise or give you a jolt.
The “Calming Rain” recording immediately made me feel like I was resting in a welcome shelter, maybe a rocking chair on the back porch of a cabin, waiting out the showers before continuing my hike. The raindrops were persistent but not foreboding. A few thunder rumbles in the distance told me my visit was going to be extended, that I would be resting here for a while. The lower tones made my listening a whole body experience – full and enveloping. The 60 plus minutes were welcome without interruption.
“Calming Ocean Waves” also did not disappoint. The wind and the waves were continuous for 60 minutes. Some swoops and bends in the tone elicited images of sun and waves, and the fun of rushing up the beach to avoid getting your shoes soggy. More active with volume swells and crashes of the surf than the others in the collection, this recording might be just what is needed for a crying baby to attend to, or when you are sick or uncomfortable. It may also be helpful in quieting an over-active mind.
My favorite disc in the collection is Ryan Judd’s “Tranquil Guitar”. He has masterfully created pieces eight acoustic guitar selections, gentle enough to not require a lot of attention from the listener. The melodies invite you to lean back and explore deep relaxation. These are not songs per se, no verse/chorus/bridge formats, just lovely melodic phrases repeating over and over in sections. The eight selections are similar in flavor so create a nice flow of one tune into the other, and each piece is about 7 1/2 minutes long with continuous ocean surf sounds in the background, tying one piece to the next.
Track one, “Close Your Eyes” plays for 7 minutes 34 seconds and there is no interruption in the surf sounds as track two, “Seaside Dreaming” begins with another soothing acoustic guitar melody for almost 8 minutes. The deeper tones and more engaging chord structure gives a greater sense of several verses lovingly constructed with open spaces for resting. As track two blends seamlessly into track three, Judd shows his versatility by adding a plaintive melody in “Beneath the Stars.” Somehow this one is more melancholy than the others though no less relaxing. This then blends into “Without You”, and “Take Me Away”, which may be the most cheerful of the collection with its strong grounding in a major key and use of the familiar chord progressions. “Crescent Moon” continues with open chords arpeggiated and returning to the familiar one chord to create a sense of safety and holding. “Soaring” continues the themes we have heard in the album with a different melody, and finally “My Wish” closes the album with another gentle tune fitting with the flow of the previous 7 tracks. The ocean waves throughout are a lovely accompaniment to Ryan’s composition and acoustic guitar meditations.
With either headphones or on stereo speakers, this selection of CDs is a great addition to your collection for moments when you feel the need to invite nature indoors and explore deep peace. I would recommend you use this anytime when you want to reduce your stress level and enhance your body’s relaxation response. Do not listen to this while driving of course. I congratulate Ryan Judd on sharing this worthwhile project. Check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Rest-Relaxation-CD-Set-Meditation/dp/B01MTXOO7Y.
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