Volume 1337, Issue 1 p. 178-185
Original Article

NICU music therapy: song of kin as critical lullaby in research and practice

Joanne Loewy

Corresponding Author

Joanne Loewy

The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, New York, New York

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York

Address for correspondence: Joanne Loewy, The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, 6 Silver 21 1st Avenue and 16th Street, New York, NY 10003. [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
First published: 13 March 2015
Citations: 84


Music therapy can improve neonatal function and reduce anxiety in parents during neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stays. Live music entrained to an infant's observed vital signs, provided by a certified music therapist with First Sounds RBL (rhythm, breath, and lullaby) training, enhanced bonding for infant–parent dyads and triads. The author's song of kin intervention, which employs parent-selected songs, is compared to the presentation of a well-known folk theme (“Twinkle”) in 272 neonates. Culturally based, parent-selected, personalized musical tunes provided in song, as a noninvasive intervention, foster optimal, continuous quality of care. Music psychotherapy sessions for parents before working with their infants can instill a potent means of nonconfrontational support, allowing for expression of fear or anxiety related to the premature birth. Although most attention is typically directed to their infant, using music can support the parents’ grief and assist in the expression of hope that can instill a sense of security and containment. From the NICU to home, a familiar thread-line theme can be resourced directly from the family and/or parent and applied effortlessly throughout the growing baby's transitional moments.