1. Roia on June 7, 2011 at 6:13 am

    I’m so glad you wrote this post, Rachelle. I think it enriches our clients’ lives to hear instruments other than the guitar and piano and drums. And I would imagine improvising and interacting with our clients using our authentic musical voice may lead to a deepening of the therapy relationship, which is a good thing.

    As I’m sure you already know, Juliette Alvin used the cello improvisationally all the time in her work as a music therapist. My main instrument is guitar (classical), and when we’ve had Community Music Groups (not so much music therapy), I’ve played classical guitar when I’ve had a cough and couldn’t sing. I got the impression that the groups appreciated it.

    • soundscapemusictherapy on June 7, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Roia! I agree that it does enrich our clients’ lives to hear a variety of instruments and styles (like classical guitar). I like you description of our “authentic musical voice,” too – I do feel that’s what I have on the oboe more than on other instruments. It blew my mind when I heard another therapist talk about using the clarinet in her work (which was Nordoff-Robbins-based) – it changed my practice for the better.

  2. Erin Bullard on July 6, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Rachelle, another great topic! I have only had the good fortune to bear witness to non-proficiency instruments and every time I see it, I wish I could offer that. For people young and old, an orchestral instrument is so fascinating to see and hear. It really shifts things in sessions and sort of opens up new doors. I co-treated with another therapist who played clarinet and even though we only did it once, it was amazing how it drew the children in and the intensity it brought to the session improvising with piano. As a piano major, I haven’t even been able to really use my skills because I have mostly been stuck on a keyboard. I always say it’s like giving wind players a plastic recorder to play. But it has served me well, anyway. And by the way, I LOVE the oboe and I’m so happy to hear that you use it! Wonderful!

    • soundscapemusictherapy on July 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

      Thanks, Erin! I do love playing the oboe in sessions. I understand the frustration of playing keyboard after classical training on a “real” piano. I wonder, though, how do you think your classical training on piano has impacted you as a music therapist, differently than someone without classical training on piano?

  3. Liz on June 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    I stumbled upon your website and am so glad to find another music therapist with their primary instrument as oboe! You have inspired me to use oboe more frequently in sessions. The one time I did use it the results were quite surprising. My client had a cochlear implant, and she would rarely sing along when a guitar/piano was accompanying her, but when I played the melody line on oboe, she would sing clearly and loudly!

    I sometimes use banjo in the session, as well. Many of my clients enjoy the sound of it. It is also tuned to an open G chord, so it is easy for them to strum along!

    Great topic 🙂

    • soundscapemusictherapy on June 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      That’s awesome, Liz! Yes, I love using the oboe in sessions – not every day, but definitely on a regular basis. Banjo is very cool, too! I’ve had clients request banjo music and haven’t been able to answer that request. Maybe someday…

      I’m glad you stumbled upon my post!

  4. Nicole Ridge on October 16, 2012 at 7:48 am

    I am a senior in high school and I play oboe. I want to play the oboe in college but I also want to do music therapy. I am thrilled to know you can incorporate the oboe in music therapy. What did you major in when you were in college?

    • soundscapemusictherapy on October 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm

      Hi Nicole,

      I majored in music therapy! I have a bachelor of music in music therapy from the University of Evansville and a Master of Arts from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. I loved UE because I got to do all the oboe playing I wanted to do – orchestra, wind ensemble, quintet, full recital, etc. I even subbed in the Evansville Philharmonic Orchestra. And I still love playing oboe in music therapy!

  5. Eric Selle on November 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm


    I majored in Euphonium performance in undergrad, and now I am a Music Therapy Equivalency student at the U of MN. I was excited to see your blog post about using the oboe in Music Therapy sessions. Do you know of anyone using brass instruments in their music therapy sessions?

    I’ve heard of a Music Therapist who used a trombone with Oral motor and respiratory exercises (OMREX) – a NMT intervention. I guess, in theory, one could use a brass instrument to help patients with respiratory complications (although typically I think they use the recorder or harmonica).

    Eric <

    • Rachelle Norman on November 4, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Hi Eric,

      I definitely think you can use euphonium in music therapy sessions. It just depends on the setting, the client’s needs and goals, etc. Offhand, if I played low brass, I’d be using it for drum circle facilitation and to play polka music during Oktoberfest. On the other hand, you might find less use for it at bedside in hospice or a hospital.

  6. ericwselle on November 4, 2014 at 2:48 pm


    I studied Euphonium performance in undergrad. Now I’m a Music Therapy Equivalency student at the U of MN. I think it’s great that you still use your oboe in your current MT practice. I’m wondering, have you heard of music therapists using low brass instruments in their music therapy sessions?

    Eric <

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