Music Therapists

Kids are inherently musical — it’s visible in the way they talk, move and process information. Our board-certified music therapists design highly individualized interventions using patient and family-preferred music to promote comfort and work on developmental, physical and expressive goals.

Music therapists are uniquely trained to harness the therapeutic qualities of music to use with even the most fragile children, including surgical patients and babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Music therapy involves accessible and adapted experiences to engage patients and make them feel successful, regardless of musical background. In the hospital setting, music therapy can offer an outlet for feelings about illness and hospitalization and reduce a child’s perception of pain and anxiety. Guiding children through the creative process can give them a voice or container for emotions, as well as positively impact their mood and well-being.

Our music therapists use techniques like song writing, composition, improvisation, music-based play and listening to music. Though at times a finished song or music project is generated, the focus of music therapy is on the therapeutic process of making and listening to sounds that echo a child’s feelings.

Children shouldn’t be defined by their illness; music therapy helps to normalize illness and injury, allowing patients and families to process the effects of hospitalization in a non-threatening environment.

Music therapy is a research-based profession, which shows its positive effects across ages and diagnoses. For more information on medical music therapy research, review some of the studies and media coverage we’ve listed under Resources.

Meet Our Music Therapists

Take a look at our music therapists’ bios to learn a little bit more about the therapist who may work with your child.

Elizabeth Klinger, MA, MT-BC, helped begin the hospital’s music therapy program in 2006. Since then, she has developed music therapy programming with patients in the PICU, NICU, cardiac care, pulmonary habilitation and palliative care. She serves as the music therapy internship coordinator and helps supervise students who provide music therapy in many other areas of the hospital.

Elizabeth received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in music therapy from Western Illinois University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana. She is a lifelong Chicagoan who has worked previously in a local hospice and school for children with autism. Elizabeth has received additional music therapy training in end-of-life care and NICU-based practices.

Laura Pawuk, MM, MT-BC, is a board-certified music therapist. Laura provides music therapy for patients and their caregivers on the hematology/oncology, neurology, transplant and pulmonary care units. Laura is also a member of the cochlear implant team who provides individual and group music therapy sessions for cochlear implant recipients. 

Laura’s undergraduate degree is in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Miami University (Ohio). She received her master’s degree in Music Therapy from Western Michigan University.

Rachel Epley, MM, MT-BC, joined the hospital’s music therapy team in 2015, providing music therapy to hematology/oncology, neurology, transplant, and pulmonary care patients. In previous years, she worked with adult and pediatric hospice and palliative care patients in Chicago and surrounding areas.

Rachel received a Master’s Degree in Music Therapy from Illinois State University, a Master’s Degree in Trumpet Performance from Northwestern University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from the Ohio State University. Prior to becoming a music therapist, Rachel directed arts education programs at elementary schools, symphony orchestras and community music schools, and taught trumpet at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. 

Work With a Music Therapist

Music therapy is provided on a referral basis, and is available to inpatients on all medical units. Priority is given to patients with multiple and/or lengthy hospitalizations in need of extra support.

Ask any member of your care team for more information on music therapy; they can help refer your child to our services.


Visit these helpful websites to learn more about music therapy or find a music therapist to continue working with your child outside of the hospital.

Lurie Children's Music Therapy in the News

Watch the AP story below, Music Therapy Bonds Parents and Preemies:

Are you a music therapy student at an AMTA-approved college or university? Learn more about our music therapy internship.

Music Therapy at Lurie Children's: Henry's Story​

The power of music therapy in a medical environment is well documented. Here's the story of Henry and his family, who are benefiting from music therapy at Lurie Children's, supported by, among others, K.I.D.S.S. for Kids.