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.

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.


Music Therapy

Music Therapy for District 97 Families

20121117-152112.jpgMusic Therapy for District 97 Families

If you have a family member or friend in special education with Oak Park School District 97, my music therapy presentation this Tuesday night is a must- attend.  Not only will I share with parents how music therapy can target educational goals, I will offer parents a much deserved moment of respite and relaxation through music.  Here is how you sign up to attend.  Come, listen, and enjoy.

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

Making Music, Music Therapy

Breathe In, Breathe Out

I have the honor of guiding some wonderful women singers in a performance the end of this month. I am sharing with them a favorite music meditation of mine in the morning. It is written by Sarah Dan Jones. You may be familiar with it. Surprisingly I could not find a YouTube recording. Maybe that will be my next post. Regardless, the words are inspiring spoken in quiet meditation or sung. They are,

Breath in, breathe out.
When I breathe in I breathe in peace.
When I breathe out I breathe out love.

Here’s a beautiful video by Greenpeace that I found goes along with this well.

Enjoy, and Happy New Year.


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.

Music Therapy

FAQs about my music therapy sessions

Recently one of my contract sites (where I work exclusively with children) asked me to provide them with some information in consideration of a story in their magazine.  I always love the opportunity to talk about the work I do, and I thought I would share some of my responses here with you as well.


1.      What is the role/purpose of the music therapy program –how do you adapt that role to the different age groups of patients? And to their different conditions?

Music is an incredibly flexible tool that in the hands (or voice) of a music therapist can be melded into exactly what a patient needs in that moment.  The needs of the patient may be for soothing and pain abatement – I can play a quiet simple chord progression and sing a simple melody that can lull a child in distress into a state of calm, even sleep.  I have used repetitive drumming patterns to create a state of predictability upon which a teenager can express feelings of loneliness, fear, gratitude, or resiliency.  I have worked with patients to play through their favorite songs, or create an original musical composition.  When possible and appropriate, I like to record these into an audio file that the patient can then keep.  Sometimes my goal for a child is to simply explore musical play – to be silly within the music and have a good time.  This is a way to elevate their mood and improve their perception of their current situation.  It also reminds the kids, especially those who are not musicians, that there are ways of having fun in life that they may not have discovered yet.  This is essential for kids with new injuries or new limitations.

Patients of all ages and ability levels can benefit from music therapy interventions.  Adaptations based on a patient’s interests and their physical, cognitive, or musical abilities are made in the moment.  I assess the level of functioning and the need for change through consultation with the staff and family members, as well as with the patient when that patient has a particular desire in mind.  Being with a patient in the music together creates magical moments of connection and understanding, through which patients can meet and sometimes exceed their goals.

My goals fall into the realm of psychosocial or developmental growth, pain reduction, or improvement of their physical or speech functioning.  I use the motivating factors in music which are psychologically and neurologically hard wired, to achieve change in functioning.  There in lies the difference between music therapy, and entertainment or eduction.

 2.      Give me an idea of the range – kinds of instruments, types of music?

The types of music depend on the style that the patient prefers.  Research (and common sense) shows that when a patient is introduced to their favorite type or style of music, they will be more engaged in the process.  This requires a high level of versatility on the part any music therapist.  The instruments we use are a combination of acoustic guitar, piano, electric keyboard, djembe, bells, and other hand-held percussion instruments.  We can also use recorded music and all the tools accessible via the music applications on the web.  Some favorites are musical instrument games and recording apps.

3.      Is there a particular patient who especially benefited from music therapy that you remember? Tell me a little about that encounter?

I remember one young woman in particular who was a poet.  She was a quadriplegic aided by her sip/puff chair.  We listened to music together over the course of a few weeks, talked about the lyrics, talked about her life and her goals.  She played her favorite songs for me and I was able to emulate a similar sound on the guitar.  She wrote a series of poems, and I helped her to form those lines into melodic phrases, a lot like her musical genre of choice.  By the end of a few sessions together we recorded her song with her singing along.  She thanked me many times for offering her the opportunity to express herself with such authenticity.

Recently I met with a little girl who guided me at the piano through the scenes of her favorite movie.  This movie was full of danger and toil, to which we played our “dangerous sounds” as well as our “happy music” when the princess triumphed over her oppressors.  I asked her if she ever felt like that princess – she told me how she had fallen that day, but like the princess, she had to pick herself up and keep going.  We explored and celebrated that success at the piano so she was ready for another day of challenging therapy.

4.      What are the credentials for a music therapist?

As a board certified music therapist (MT-BC) I have both a bachelors and masters degree in music, majoring in music therapy.  To become board certified, a 6 month full time clinical music therapy internship and comprehensive exam must be completed after completion of an approved/accredited bachelors degree.  Continuing education must be fulfilled on a five-year cycle to maintain this certification.  More information can be obtained at or, the Certification Board for Music Therapists, and the American Music Therapy Association, respectively. A useful annotated bibliography can also be referenced at

Have a wonderful rest of November, continuing to be thankful and grateful for all that you have.  Keep singing.

– Victoria