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.
Sheridan received a Bachelor of Science in Music from Northwestern University with concentrations in music cognition and psychology. She completed the music therapy equivalency program at Western Michigan University, where she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in music therapy. Prior to returning to Lurie Children’s, Sheridan worked in therapeutic day schools, providing music therapy services to students of all ages with a diverse range of special needs and social-emotional needs.
Elizabeth Klinger, MA, MT-BC, helped begin the hospital’s music therapy program in 2006. Since then, she has developed music therapy programming throughout the inpatient hospital and currently sees patients and families in the pediatric intensive care unit and neonatal intensive care unit. She also serves as the Creative Arts Therapy team lead and music therapy internship coordinator, helping to supervise national roster university students who provide music therapy services by referral hospital-wide.
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.
Jacqueline Vilca, MT-BC, joined the music therapy team in 2019, providing music therapy services to pulmonary care, intermediate/general acute care, NICU, and cardiac patients. In previous years, she worked with a variety of populations including premature infants in the NICU, adolescents in school settings, and older adults in memory care. She has worked in multiple settings including hospitals, therapeutic day schools, and residential facilities in FL, NY, and IL, facilitating music therapy sessions in English and Spanish.
Jacqueline received her Bachelor’s in music therapy from the University of Miami and additional music therapy training in NICU-based practices.
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.
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.
Music Therapy Internship
Are you a music therapy student at an AMTA-approved college or university? Learn more about our music therapy internship.