Music Therapy in the NICU

I’m just recovering from jetlag after a world wind tour to NYC to present at the International Summit for Music Therapy in the NICU. First Sounds: Rhythm, Breath and Lullaby was a major cool international summit sponsored by the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine who sponsored the program, with a donation by the Heather on Earth foundation.

This invitational Summit included 35 doctors, nurses, music therapists, healing music specialists (moi 🙂 and psychologists working in the NICU. The intent was to develop an international alliance and plan for training international practitioners in NICU music therapy.

My presentation on wordless singing and the five elements of Voices of Eden healing music, which was experiential in nature, was punctuated by a flood of tears which unexpectedly burst open as I acknowledged the blessing of us all being in that one room together.

Thanks to Joanne Loewy who had the foresight to bring these experts together, from literally, all corners of the globe. The countries represented were (in alphabetical order):

* Argentina
* Australia
* China
* England
* Germany
* Ireland
* Israel
* Spain
* Sweden
* United States

I had the pleasure of rooming with Kat Fulton of, a music therapist residing in San Diego, CA who works with rhythm in the NICU. Her site is definately worth checking out. Kat summarized our very full and intense conference with the following topics that were covered:

* Program design and implementation in Europe (Germany)
* Noise, Music, and the Environment in the NICU (USA)
* Music Therapy as a Semiotic System of Communication (Spain)
* Interplay with the Medically Fragile Infant (Australia)
* Development of a Trauma-Informed NICU Music Therapy Treatment Model (USA)
* Wordless Melodies: Voices of Eden (Israel)
* The Pacifier Activated Lullaby: From Theory to Practice (USA)
* NICU Palliative Care: Anticipatory Grief & Bereavement (USA)
* Guided Imagery and Music with a Bereaved Parent: Case Study (USA)
* Live Infant-Directed Singing and Instrumental Music for Expression and Interaction (USA)
* Heather on Earth Multi-Site Research Study (USA)
* Music and Maternal Sounds in the NICU (USA)
* Neurological Development to Inform Music Selections in the NICU (USA)
* Analysis of Music Therapy Contributions (Spain)
* Relational Psychophysiology: Lessons from Mother-Infant Interaction (USA)
* Pain, Songs of Kin and Sedation (USA)

It was a stroke of Divine providence that my brother and niece Julia happened to be in New York the same day I arrived, so we got to meet for dinner at TGIF (where a cocktail party was given for us the first evening of the summit). What a blessing.

My favorite moments of the summit were during the cocktail party when we spontaneously broke into a rhythmic improvisation – it was a heavenly blend of glasses, spoons, cups and the plastic barrel played stupendously by one of the “very musically inclined” waiters who came to join us. I was in ecstasy.

Special thanks to Joanne Loewy, Sherry Williams and the staff at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York for making this International Summit possible! Support for the summit came from the Heather on Earth Music Foundation, Remo, and the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.

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