Meeting the Challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Virtual Developmental Music Therapy Class for Infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Brianna Negrete, MM, MT-BC, NICU MT


Pediatr Nurs. 2020;46(4):198-201, 206. 

In This Article

Adapting the Class to a Virtual Environment

Once COVID-19 restrictions were put into effect, all parent classes, including the in-person music therapy class, were immediately stopped. With the restrictions in place allowing only one caregiver at the bedside, and all caregivers required to wear masks at all times, the need for developmental support for the infants became even more crucial. As a result, the music therapy class was adapted to be delivered over a video conferencing platform.

The class is now held twice a week over Zoom (, San Jose, CA). The web link and login instructions for the class are emailed to the nurse assigned to each infant on the day of a class and also to each infant's parents. Immediately prior to the class, a reminder text is sent to the nurses, and they are asked to login to the class on the computer in the patient's room. Alternatively, the parent who is present at their baby's bedside can login using their own tablet or phone. Additionally, another parent, grandparents, and/or siblings who are unable to be onsite are provided the link and invited to login on any device and participate in the class from their home or other remote location.

The music therapist facilitates the virtual class from home and does not need to wear a mask. Therefore, infants and their parents see the therapist's facial expressions (see Figure 1). All participants are asked to use the "gallery view" screen feature so all infants and parents can both see each other and be seen on the screen (see Figure 1). Every infant has an adult present with them during the class, either a parent or a NICU staff member. This is important in case the infant shows signs of overstimulation and needs to be signed-off from the class. The class lasts about 20 minutes and is structured the same way it was when offered in-person. A brief clip of the class is shown here:

Figure 1.

Screenshot of Virtual Developmental Music Therapy Group Music therapist leading the group from home (upper right panel) with infants and caregivers logged in from their individual patient rooms in the NICU.
Note: All photos used with permission of the group participants.

One nurse describes participating in the class with a patient:

Through Zoom, M. has been able to maintain one of his favorite therapies, which is music therapy class. He has found his loud voice with singing along with Brianna. He also recognizes the faces of other participants as well as Brianna. Outside of the class, we sing the songs from class, which he enjoys.