by Jennifer Buchanan

Available at amazon.com in paperback $19.95
Kindle edition $9.80

Reviewed by Kayley Patterson, The Room 217 Foundation

Look at life as something to be enjoyed, and never be afraid to find the music that can help you express that. This is the theme of Jennifer Buchanan’s book Tune In published by Hugo House and available at amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Her vision is simple: to encourage people to take full advantage of what music has to offer.

The book’s main focus describes a 4 step process of using music to intentionally curb stress, boost morale and restore health.  The writing style is narrative; a treasure trove of real life stories she has experienced throughout her life as a music therapist. Though some of these tales are heartbreaking, each one provides inspiration – and more often than not, a positive outcome occurs due to a musical/auditory experience.

Tune In has the potential to be used as a Self-Help book. The instructional content is detailed and diagrams help to present material visually. Themes include: how to trigger one’s own happiness, tips on how to hire a music therapist, and advice on how to find music that is suitable for an individual, as everybody has their own distinctive experiences and preferences. Tune In holds charts and step-by-step practical methods to develop one’s own “life soundtrack”.  Music as an unrivalled therapeutic entity which taps into life experiences and emotions is another major theme expressed through positive and negative triggers as music or sounds.

Two memorable parts for me were the author’s own personal anecdotes in the opening section and the end notes, sincere snapshots relaying the impressionable relationship she had with her grandparents.  Jennifer poignantly draws the reader into this relationship, especially her grandmother whom she admired fervently and who influenced her decision to become a music therapist.

Clients’ stories unfold, representing a variety of age groups and circumstances. For instance, Jennifer shares her experience of working with a group of incarcerated boys, helping them to learn about themselves through music’s positive and negative effects. She describes working with a music therapy group at a local hospital, creating a sing-along session amongst a group of people she had least expected to sing together.  She speaks of a man with autism whose life has been filled with the same monotonous routine for years until she introduces music into his life.

The book ends confidently, by means of a chapter entitled Live Life on a High Note: Finding Purpose through Music. The last chapter exudes positive energy and can be summed up in Jennifer’s own words: When music speaks, we feel more relaxed about work, home, and life. When music speaks we feel healthier. When music speaks, we are more connected to those around us. The key is the intention and the love in which we use it. 

Tune In is highly recommended for anybody interested in becoming acquainted with the possibilities and potential applications of music and its therapeutic benefits and is seeking to improve quality of life both for themselves and others.

About Kayley Patterson, BMus, is a freelance musician and works as in Resource Services at the Room 217 Foundation.