Media Reviews

CD Review for Relaxation

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 Relax series

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:

Oak Park Music Therapy is a Chicagoland music therapy service dedicated to bringing quality group and individual music therapy services to your loved ones, you clients, and your colleagues.  Follow us here or contact us directly to schedule an appointment or workshop.

Making Music, Media Reviews

NAMI Nation

NAMIMy colleagues at the National Alliance on Mental Illness here in Oak Park contacted me a few months ago to assist in a project they are affectionately calling NAMI Nation.  It’s an arts based approach to support and advocacy where the NAMI members have a chance to work together in performance situations to share their love of music, and use the arts for sustained wellness.  Charles Torpe and his colleagues offer open mics, a songwriting group, karaoke, free-style, and poetry slams, and art studio events.  Take a look at this video and you will learn a lot more.  I enter around 4:35 minutes so enjoy the full presentation and offer your support to this super cool program.

In the continuum of care, you can consider this program not a music therapy program, but a wellness program, or therapeutic arts program.  The goals are to embrace the performance opportunities offered to their members as a way to maintain mental health and help members create/express in a supportive environment.  As a music therapist working in community mental health, I am grateful to be able to point to this program as an example of how music is used in a wellness model serving our community members and neighbors.

Go NAMInation!

Media Reviews

Music Therapy Strikes Chord –

I was asked to speak about music therapy by a student journalist from Columbia College, Izzy Gut, who was enthusiastic about music and intrigued by music therapy.  I spoke with her in route to the American Music Therapy Association’s Great Lakes Regional Conference in Columbus, Ohio.  In the car with me was friend and colleague Ellen Rayfield, so Izzy was lucky to get us 2 for 1 for her interview.  Our regional President, Tracey Richardson, was happy to add a bit more to the conversation post conference.  It was a joy to come back from an inspiring week of information sharing, to have this article, “Music Therapy Strikes Chord” on to share with all of you.

Cheers – keep singing.


Media Reviews

Illinois Association for Music Therapy – Member Spotlight

Illinois Association for Music Therapy – Member Spotlight

Thanks to the folks at the Illinois Association for Music Therapy for inviting me to be the  spotlighted member for the month.  Click here to hear my story of what brought me to being a music therapist, and why I stay.  Check it out at


Media Reviews, Music Therapy

A Joyful Noise

I came across this delightful and insightful post from a blogger who is enthusiastic about living a healthy life.  This is the story of how this person used music to tolerate some dental discomfort, and was inspired to do a little research on music therapy since using music worked so well for them.  Kudos for doing what feels right and for being curious enough to learn more.  As a board certified music therapist, I am excited to share this well written and cheerful post with my readers.  Thank you for sharing this Yeloros!  Enjoy the singing and dancing!

A Joyful Noise.

Media Reviews, Music Therapy

The Music Therapy Show on Blog Talk Radio

Missed the live show Friday?  Click here to take a listen to my discussion with host Janice Lindstrom and learn a little more about why I love being a music therapist.

Music therapy and private practice 01/11 by Janice Lindstrom | Blog Talk Radio.

Thanks for listening — I’d love to hear any comments you might offer!

Keep singing.

– Victoria

Media Reviews, Music Therapy

Violence and Stigma in Mental Health

Please follow this link to read this article about autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and the mistake we make when we over generalize. This New York Times writer has done a great job in clarifying the difference between mental health disabilities, and violence in Our Sons Are Not Future Killers.

Our hearts must find ways to mend, again, and again, in this very unfinished incomplete world.

I believe a way is through exploring the arts – music, theater, visual art, poetry, dance and even yoga. Find what you love and do it often. It brings peace to you, your family, and then to your town, your region, your world. The concept of thinking globally, acting locally can be for more than conservation – I think we can also act in PEACE, and see a much wider impact on the world around us.

May peace find rest in our hearts, and through our creativity.