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

Benefits of the Virtual Developmental Music Therapy Class

As successful and beneficial as the in-person music therapy class has been, there are unique benefits of the virtual class. One benefit is that more infants are able to attend the online developmental music therapy class because they can participate from their rooms. For example, more infants with tracheostomies have attended the class because nurses do not have to coordinate respiratory support and transportation for the infants. In addition, infants who are on isolation precautions are able to participate; this would not be possible for an in-person class. The online class also minimizes the amount of staff time required to help with the class because all the family or nurse needs to do is to log on.

Another benefit of the online class is that the music therapist is not wearing a mask. Since the COVID-19 infection control precautions, all infants see are faces covered with masks. Infants benefit from seeing facial expressions to learn social cues and to identify emotions (Caron et al., 1988). The online class is a safe way for infants to see and interact with a human face without a mask.

Finally, because the number of people allowed to be with an infant is so restricted because of the COVID-19 precautions, a virtual class allows additional family members to participate in or observe the class even from a distance, and as a result, to feel a greater connection to their infant's experience. Having a class in which infants and parents can see each other and parents can see each other's infants has been beneficial in building relationships outside of the hospital rooms, especially since the family lounge is now closed.

One nurse describes her observations of the virtual music therapy classes as follows:

The music therapy program has offered a unique opportunity for babies to see a face and mouth without a mask. For young infants, this time is critical for them to see faces, particularly the mouth. In a scary time where we must all wear masks (parents included), the babies seeing our music therapist's smiling and singing face has been an important developmental intervention that everyone happens to just LOVE!