Anna Estabrook, MM, MT-BC

A photo of Anna EstabrookI am grateful for the opportunity to introduce myself to you. My name is Anna Estabrook and I have been a music therapist since 2013. I started my small private practice named Rinnah Music Therapy a few years ago in the Peoria area. I have seen a variety of private individual clients that have ranged in age from young children to adults.

Where do you work and who are your clients?
I currently work part time as a Developmental Therapist in the Early Intervention program in the Peoria area with birth to three year olds who have developmental delays or disabilities. I am hoping to extend my business to include music therapy assisted childbirth when it seems right for my family. In the meantime, I’ve used some comfort measures to assist in relaxation during my own births. When I’m not working as a music therapist, I have the privilege of caring for my three young children who are three years old and younger. They are such a joy! It can be difficult to find the right balance between work and home sometimes, but for me the amount of time I currently spend as a music therapist rejuvenates and makes me more grateful for the time with my kids.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I enjoy the interaction I have with families. A big part of what I do includes parent education, and it’s very rewarding to see families engaging in play together and children reaching their goals as families work toward those goals together.

What inspired you to become a music therapist?
I grew up going to a fine arts magnet school, where I learned to play violin and trumpet. I also took piano lessons later on. My life seemed to revolve around violin and trumpet especially all the way through high school, and both were fairly equal until my senior year of high school. When I began college at Bradley University, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was advised to do something I knew and liked, rather than being undecided in my major. A year and a half into my music major, I burned out on trumpet playing. Things weren’t working and I was one semester from finishing a Bachelor of Arts. That wasn’t all though. Someone told me about music therapy, and I happened to finally find a music therapist to observe while on a trip, in Portland, Oregon of all places. There were interactions with older adults with dementia that felt fake and contrived, and I got turned off of music therapy. Oh no!

From that negative experience, I swung like a pendulum to young children, thinking that’s who I must be passionate to work with. As I was finishing my degree, student teaching in a wonderful preschool classroom, I began to rethink music therapy. Maybe there was something I missed. I enjoyed making music with these kids and wanted to help them gain new skills that way. I found myself lighting up enthusiastically whenever it came time to lead the class in music or movement. The thought of having one classroom full of children for an entire year and for longer than one year felt stifling and restrictive. I was more interested in working with individuals or small groups. Before I could decide what to do I felt I should observe music therapy again. I found a music therapist locally this time, working in Early Intervention, and instantly resonated with the ways she was using music and instrument play as a sensory learning experience to help this little girl label her surroundings and body parts. She had cortical visual impairment and needed several different types of stimuli for her brain to learn what her eyes were seeing. I saw before my very eyes transformation and learning taking place as a result of music therapy, and was inspired to learn more and become a music therapist myself.

I moved forward with finishing my music degree, and looked into what additional courses would move me forward faster when I started my master’s degree at Illinois State shortly after.

What do you do for self-care?
Ha! I enjoy taking naps, reading, writing, going on walks, and worshiping on piano or guitar with my kids. Self-care for me in this season of life has been alone time to think and journal, exercise, and spend precious time with friends that is becoming harder to carve out.

What’s once piece of advice you have for students or new therapists in the field?
The best thing you can do for yourself is observe, observe, observe music therapists in the field! Write down your observations of verbal and nonverbal communication you notice the music therapist doing. What does s/he do well? What could improve? Become a expert observer and you will gradually improve your own presence as a music therapist.

Rachel Tutko, MT-BC

Where do you work and who are your clients? A photo of Rachel Tutko

I work for Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care, but currently in the role as an Associate Team Director. I provide additional support in a leadership role to the team director, clinical director, and the staff of the IDG.  I worked in the field for Seasons for about 3 and a half years as a music therapist before transitioning into a new role. I loved my clients, working as a hospice music therapist, and especially my team. When this position became available to me, I took it as an opportunity to grow as a leader and to support a team of friends and professionals that I love. I utilize my clinical skills as a music therapist daily even in my current role. I often assist staff with challenging situations and help them to triage and troubleshoot. I am often supporting families with questions, concerns, and providing solutions over the phone and during patient/family meetings. With my experience as a field music therapist with Seasons, I serve as a mentor to the field staff so that they feel more supported in their work. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my work is still the patients and families. Even though I’m not at the bedside, I still feel very connected to the field. I do enjoy providing guidance and solutions to patients and families calling in seeking support. I also enjoy being a mentor to the field staff because it ultimately means that they can better support our patients and families. A lot of what I do helps contribute to the efficiency of the organization which ultimately means things run more smoothly for the patients and families we serve. 

What inspired you to become a music therapist?

Music therapy is everything I believe music is and does for people. It reminds us of what it means to be human in healthcare. I always knew I wanted to serve people, but also work with music on a professional level. I was fortunate to have found out that the mother of a childhood friend of mine is a music therapist and took her up on the opportunity to observe her. I spent the whole day with her during her sessions and the rest is history!

What do you do for self-care?

Always take the opportunity to learn music for yourself. If there is a song that resonates with me for any particular reason, I take the opportunity to just learn it for myself. I’ve grown to learn and love A LOT of music working with my clients, but in my current role, I’m not learning music for someone else quite as often. Music has always been a therapeutic outlet for me and serves as a reminder of my “WHY”. 

What’s once piece of advice you have for students or new therapists in the field?

Be patient with yourself. Allow yourself room to grow. Take feedback seriously. You’ll never be able to do everything, know every song, or know all the answers, but don’t let that take away from the beauty and excitement of your journey. Also, you are never “JUST” a music therapist. You are a leader in healthcare and your clients/patients need you.

Regan Thompson, MT-BC

A photo of Regan ThompsonWhere do you work and who are your clients? I work at Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care in Illinois where I’ve been for the last two years. I work with our hospice patients in the western suburbs of Chicago. My patients range anywhere from 21- 103 depending on who is receiving hospice services. 

What inspired you to become a music therapist? Honestly, I’ve grown up around the medical field with my mom as a nurse. I grew up playing piano and taking voice lessons. When I heard about music therapy it really felt like what I was called to do. I knew I wanted to work as a music therapist in the medical and/or psych field. 

How have you experienced music to be therapeutic yourself? I think I use music almost every day as therapy for myself. Whether it’s between patients to recenter myself or to get out of a space that I’m in, or to get me motivated to workout or run, I am using music daily in my own life. 

Who is your role model? I think I’d have to say one of my older friends who has lived more life than me. She inspires me to be a good mom, to be a better wife and to better myself while also giving myself grace. 

What are your hobbies? I love working out and running. It’s my stress reliever. I love running races whenever I can but really prefer running in the winter months. 

What is your favorite self-care activity? Probably the same as above. Running and working out.

Rebecca J. Froman Freiman, MA, MT-BC

Where do you work and who are your clients?

My private practice, Greater Chicago Music Therapy Inc., serves adults of all ages in group and individual sessions wherever home is for the
client in Chicago and neighboring suburbs. We see clients in skilled nursing and assisted living care communities, adult day programs, and
work with clients in their private residences with their carepartners. We specialize in working with adults with various types of dementia,
though we see adults for other mental health and neurological health challenges as well. One of our other specialties is serving older adult
clients of Jewish background. Educating community partners and providing trainings are also a large component of our practice; our most
recent workshop was at Alzheimer’s Association’s National Headquarters. Currently, our team is growing and expanding!

What is your favorite part of your job?

This is an easy question—getting to be with people and music all day! Beyond that, one of my favorite aspects of my job is working with an
excellent professional network. Interfacing with other team members and creative arts therapists makes me a better music therapist. I also am
so grateful to be part of such a wonderful community of music therapists in the Chicago area. Several years ago during a difficult job transition,
many IL music therapy colleagues came to my aide and gave me so much assistance. I continue to feel this support as music therapists in IL
have such strong camaraderie and commitment to each other and the field. It is amazing how we as music therapists often come together to
help each other’s work, collaborate, and cheer each other on. I think the field as a whole, our clients, and communities benefit because we
bolster each other’s work and demonstrate a collegiality rare in other fields.

What inspired you to become a music therapist?

By the time I was in high school, my route toward being an oboe performance major in college was solidified. I was quite fortunate to get to
attend Interlochen Arts Camp, which simultaneously nourished my love of music and discouraged me from following the life of a musical
performer. My senior year, I took two psychology-related classes and was enamored. My parents had heard of music therapy, so when I got
to choose a special senior project shadowing a professional at their job, my school matched me with a willing music therapist. I went on to
college as a performance major as planned, but picked up a concentration in psychology and sought experiences and classes that would help
me pursue music therapy as a graduate student.

What do you do for self-care?

Like many music therapists, I am plagued with not being the greatest at work/life balance. It seems to be a bad trend in our field. I do not
always have a lot of time of self-care, but there are two things that no matter what is going on in my life, I make time for and it helps me feel a
little more balanced- getting a manicure and stopping for coffee. No matter how frantic or chaotic things are, at least my nails look great
around my cup of coffee until they reflect the wear of excessive guitar playing! Also, I had an intern once who had a wonderful ritual prior to
starting a session that I have adopted. Before entering the session space if I can, I stand in the doorway, think about the feeling of the ground
beneath my feet, turn my head to each side, take a deep breath in and out, return my head to center, then enter. It takes just a moment, but
can be so centering, refreshing, and a reminder to be present.

What’s one piece of advice you have for students or new therapists in the field?

I remember feeling a significant amount of pressure to declare which clinical population I would work with for my entire career as a beginning
student and intern. Early childhood was where I thought I would find my specialization. Then, I had a practicum on a geriatric psychiatric care
unit and was shaken by how much I loved it and the realization that I needed to switch course. I took comfort from my graduate school advisor
talking with me about the many different populations she’d worked with along her way. This helped me find the courage to take a large turn on
my path toward my first job working with older adults. So, to students and new therapists, I say take the pressure off of yourselves to try to
figure out which clinical population is the one for your career. Just explore the work that motivates, engages, and excites you.