All posts by Shall we let the music out?

Free Music Therapy Workshop May 2015

Hei Kaikki!

On Monday, the 4th of May, will be a Music Therapy Workshop. From 12:00 until 16:00 you can try out different techniques of music therapy – for free!

Join us in an explorative introduction to the field of music therapy including informative seminars as well as active music making!

12:15-12:45 Introduction to Music Therapy
13:00-13:45 Group Drumming
14:00-14:45 Introduction to Guided Imagery and Music
15:00-15:45 Group Improvisation

If you are interested, come to the University of Jyväskylä Musica building’s hall at 12:00 (Seminaarinmäki). Registration is available at:

Be  welcome!


Psychology meets Music Therapy

This month, the music therapy students had the chance to meet the psychology students in what is nicknamed Mordor due to it’s distance from the main campus! The day was interesting, inspiring, and fun. It really made me think: why is there a divide and stigma associated with music therapy when all I see are similarities?

More and more often we are pressured into believing we are different, have a different skill set, can achieve different things. Why is there such an emphasis on not being the same as our family, friends, colleagues, classmates, when unity is what helps us to strive towards greatness?

Perhaps – in this context – it depends on one’s reasoning behind therapy. Is the point of “working on” yourself so that you can realise your differences from others, or the opposite? Why is it important to be different from others? These questions were running through my mind during the workshops. I couldn’t help but wonder, if the end result of a therapeutic process is the same, why are there different types of therapy? When we go to therapy, who are we really doing the “work” for?


We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.

                     – Bill Clinton 

So, was our seminar day for pointing out the differences or the similarities? I for one choose to believe that having a common goal makes us the same.

“Shall we let the music out?”

Preparations are again under way for the third Music Therapy Seminar at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. “Shall we let the music out?” is aimed at anyone interested to learn more about music therapy and the research at the university by both MA and PhD students through workshops.

There will be a choice of workshops to attend, but no matter what you choose to see, you will not be disappointed! This is a wonderful opportunity to see how budding music therapists work and lead sessions. You’ll get the opportunity to play music (don’t worry, you won’t be alone!) and you’ll undoubtedly get drawn in by the atmosphere and leave smiling.

Book your chance to take part in this LAST opportunity from these MA students through this email address:

See you there!

Judy Garland had it right all along

The holidays are officially over.

This phrase has probably been whirling around the heads of those going back to work or preparing for the coming semester. It seems so definitive it’s almost deafening. It’s not all dread and drudge, however! The Christmas season has been a time for recuperation, reflection, relaxation, regeneration: a time of looking back at the hectic year that was 2013 and thinking about the future, making our way in the world, and being content with and proud of the choices that have led us to where we stand now.

New year’s resolutions are, for me at least, usually a whimsical notion which lead to nothing except guilt for not having achieved them. This year, however, I have decided that I will simply try to be as present in my own life as I possibly can. Present mentally, of course. It can be so easy to drift off into a routine of doing the same mundane things day-in, day-out without actually feeling anything. Being present in my life is something that I can only benefit from, and in turn allows me to be a better daughter, sister, partner, friend, student, and whatever other roles I hold in life. One can only aspire to be a better version of themselves. Judy Garland had it right all along:

Always be a first-rate version of yourself instead of a second-rate version of someone else.

Nowadays one can become very disillusioned with what the media reports is expected of us. Perpetuating the notion that students should begin their tertiary education with a Bachelor, move on to a Master and finish with a PhD in a topic that is “useful” to the economy. Who has the right to say that any person should follow a curriculum which predetermines their future whether they want it or not? Where is the academic or social freedom that students crave? Why do we not have the ability to choose how we lead our lives without the pressure of having to find a well-paying job directly after we emerge from a programme? Why is it that one cannot simply follow their heart and study simply to better oneself, broaden one’s horizons and become that first-rate version of themselves?

Choosing to study at the University of Jyväskylä has been a life changing experience for me. Coming from a small Irish town, studying for my Bachelor in another small town and moving to a city which feels like a home away from home has most definitely made me feel like I have achieved something great in 2013. The year has definitely been hectic, but I can say with all honesty that I have never experienced as much personal growth, met as many wonderful and knowledgeable people, and felt as much at home as I have in Jyväskylä. Although I am still finding the language somewhat of a struggle, I have found the whole experience to be extremely enriching. It not only showed me that I can change but showed me the kind of person I want to and, most importantly, can be.

The programme has enabled me to meet the most inspiring and hard-working people, for which I will be eternally grateful. I know that from this I will be able to emerge from this two-year programme a better and well-rounded person with amazing friends and extraordinary memories. I have not only experienced personal growth, but also professional. It has let me see that my future not only holds one path but has many. That is the exquisite beauty of education, one can never have learned enough, have seen enough or experienced enough. The easy freedom of knowing that one’s direction in life is not predetermined is relieving and invigorating, yet of course can be daunting!

I know, I will never regret the decision I made to come here, to be a part of a group of people that will doubtless go on to do great things and continue to be an inspiration for others, and to see the beauty and live in the vast expanse that is Finland.

An adventure like this is something to be relished, a dream come true. Make it your reality, too.

Apply here before February 14th:

Making the Move

It’s coming closer to the time when students have to start thinking about what’s next. Those words can be terrifying, petrifying, but liberating.  What’s next? But, what if there’s more to it than that? What if it’s not just what’s next, but where to next 

Moving overseas can seem daunting, but thousands have done it before you, so it can’t be so bad, right? The thing is, one needs to plan well and figure out all the possibilities on offer. Talk to people. Read about others’ testimonials. Read old newspaper articles which talk about the place you’re researching. Open your ears and your heart to new possibilities and new people. Read a blog about a course you’re interested in…

So, practically speaking, what are some things you need to know when applying to the course?

Here is a short list of FAQs that you can peruse and leave a comment if you have more questions! Pass on this information to those you think might be interested in music therapy or work in the field and let us know what you think about the possibility of studying music therapy, studying with like-minded and open people and living and studying in the Land of a Thousand Lakes!

Thinking of applying for the next Music Therapy Master’s Programme at Jyväskylä? Here are some FAQ that might help you make your decision! 

1) What are the requirements for entry? 

Language requirements: English is the working language, so if you do not have English as a native language, you must have an equivalent to a TOEFL score of 580 – paper based – or 237 – computer based – or 92 – internet based. Also the IELTS score is acceptable – the score should be 6.5 or above. 
It helps to have a background in Music, Psychology or Therapy but one does not need to have a full working knowledge of therapeutic approaches or methods to be able to apply or complete the course. 

2) What is the atmosphere like within the programme/city of Jyväskylä?

The course is quite small for a MA – everyone is friendly and helpful and the overall atmosphere of the university is very pleasant. The city may have 80,000 inhabitants, but it has a very close-knit, compact feel and all amenities are within a short distance of each other. 

3) What is the clinical training like in the course?

The clinical training is comprised of two sections- Internship I and II. The first is 12 sessions and the second 20. The second is organised in the student’s own time whereas the first is done within class time and scheduled by the class teachers. 

4) What is the public transport like?

As of now, each single journey on the bus costs €3.30. It is possible to get a card that lasts for longer e.g. a 6 month card which costs €50 or a card that entitles the holder to 40 trips. This can be quite expensive. Most students cycle. The city is small enough to be able to get everywhere within quite a short time and there are always second-hand bicycles available for new students. For more information on second-hand items in Jyväskylä, visit the FB page Foreigners in Jyväskylä or Second-hand items in Jyväskylä. You may find someone from your own country who can tell you how they find it living in Finland  

5) Language courses.

For the MA course, all foreign students must take two Finnish language courses – Suomi 1 and Suomi 2. It is possible to continue these studies as a side course. 

6) Information on accommodation can be found here: 

7) How easy is it to make friends in Jyväskylä?

There is a strong international culture here because there are so many exchange students. If you would like to get to know a few before coming here, try the ESN FB page, where all the erasmus students currently living in Jyväskylä will be! There are a lot of activities one can do to get to know people such as choirs, orchestras, art clubs, other types of music groups, sports courses offered at the sports centre/university sports organisation as well as potential flatmates. All international students are “in the same boat” when they arrive here, and there are lots of events/parties/trips to Lapland/Russia/Stockholm, so plently of opportunites to meet new people!!


All Hocus Pocus or Miracle Treatment?

These days it’s difficult to say whether the methods we employ to increase our well-being are scams by drug companies or life-saving practices. Honestly, I’d rather believe that the power to heal myself lies largely in my own hands and without the use of dangerous and addictive drugs. So, if drugs are not the answer, then what is?

People have been searching for alternative methods of dealing with stress, pain, bereavement, learning difficulties, during palliative care (end of life) and simply as a way of getting to know oneself. Therapy is, of course, one common method of addressing these factors but how does one know what type of therapy is suitable? Allow me to be precocious and lead you gently down the path towards the world of music therapy.

There are many reasons why one would choose to participate in music therapy. The effects of this art form vary incredibly; music helps to lower stress hormones, boost endorphins, stimulate neural connections, aid with social bonding, helps nurture a deeper understanding of oneself and one’s surroundings… The list is endless. (Of course, this is not to say that music therapy trumps all other types of therapy and healing – it is simply one approach).

Perhaps it’s difficult to imagine that music – something which is so common and present in our everyday lives – can have such an impact on our lives? How is it that there is pain, suffering, upset in the world when people listen to music constantly? If music is so effective, how come it isn’t used world wide as a way of treating depression? How is there any illness at all if music exists?

The answer is simple. Relationships. Connections. The difference between everyday music listening/playing and music created in  therapy is the relationship between client and therapist. It is true; anyone can sit in a chair and listen to music or play an instrument, yet it is the bond between therapist and client which acts as a catalyst for comprehension and understanding. The therapist is the pillar of support for the client yet the music enables emotional and social development. The bond between therapist and client is essential, yet music acts as the glue between them and helps initially to build a trusting relationship between the two.

The power of music and its influence on us is not a modern concept. As far back as Plato, music was assigned huge importance and was viewed as something supreme, almost omnipotent. Indeed, Plato refers to music as having the capability of healing:

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, light to the imagination, a charm to sadness and life to everything.

If music was viewed in such a light in the 5th century BC with little knowledge of the physiological effects, knowledge of how it can transform our lives today holds – if possible – even stronger.

Moral of the story: utilise every chance to get to know yourself; utilise every chance to get to know others; utilise every chance you get to enjoy the magic of music. Even if music therapy is not a miracle treatment, neither is it hocus pocus. Don’t miss out on the chance to use a mighty art to transform how you see yourself and the world.

The Wilderness Downtown

Another day. Another feeling. Another song.

I woke up today with the feeling that today is going to be one of those days. That kind of day where the words flow, where coffee is not just a drug but a soothing friend and music is the wind pushing me up that hill.

I like being organised, so this morning, after my coffee on the balcony and with the sun on my shoulders, I organised my desk. I made sure the deck table was facing outwards allowing me to look at the grass and sky, but not so I would be distracted and waste my  day pondering life and all its mysteries. No. Just enough of a light breeze to keep me focused on my work but still able to feel the nature on my skin. Perfect weather for a perfect day.

The next step was to stick in my ear phones and press shuffle. I’m not that person who has thousands of songs on her iPod. No. I work in phases, so I have a certain number of songs on my iPod which I intently listen to, which I listen  to whilst jogging, which I listen to when cycling to university, which – at that point in my life – describe who I am, who I aspire to be or the feeling I like to generate when doing certain things. I then change all the songs in keeping with the next phase. Sounds vague? Well, it is. Despite trying to be organised and colour-coding my life, I am extremely vague. This, however, is exactly why music is one of the most powerful forces in my life.

Today, I have managed to outline a plan to my thesis, an organised list. This makes me feel empowered and exhilarated. Yet, what is the part of today’s story which makes it any different from yesterday’s lack of motivation? Music, of course. I never fail to be surprised at how one’s own choice of song can achieve different feats when listened to in different situations. Alexis Murdoch can remind me to breathe when I am running, can help me to focus when I’m studying or encourage sleep when my brain just won’t shut off.

I discovered something completely different today, though. is a so-called interactive website created by Chris Milk. It showed me that music is not only powerful at forming pictures in one’s own head, making associations with times in our lives, or with people, or events, but also places; places we call home. Perhaps the words ‘home’ and ‘music’ are the two most comforting words in my world, because they emulate the concept of stability. My family will always be there for me, even if I’m not in the same country; music will always be comforting for me, because it’s something that is unique to me and even if thousands of people listen to a Alexis Murdoch, I will be the only one that feels a strong connection with it because of the person that introduced it to me and the time in my life when it became important for me. There you go; the power of music association.

But, that’s exactly what I found with this website. The Wilderness Downtown asks the visitor to enter the address of the home where you grew up. As at 20 something that lives abroad, this song and the images that were generated almost brought me to tears. Something clicked inside me: I can’t get home in a matter of hours, it’s a full day’s travelling. No matter how much technology has progressed, talking to someone on Skype will never be the same as talking in person. A smile will never be the same as a hug. It dawned on me that music is always there for me. I can pick and choose what I want to listen to, when, with whom and exactly mould the kind of day I want to have just by opening YouTube, iTunes or Grooveshark. It won’t bring family any closer, but music has the power to make me feel elated, depressed, energetic or sleepy in a matter of minutes.

Music is a powerful force, something creative and beautiful. I urge everyone to take a look at themselves. Just think about how you think about music, how it makes you feel, how music can be something personal yet universal. Maybe our music is the mould for shaping our lives and not just the final credits.