From birth, music can have a profound effect on the growth and development of children. Music can soothe and pacify, promote learning and offer a sense of security in a time of uncertainty. At Florida Hospital for Children, the team of highly trained music therapists uses live music interventions to help children reach their physiological, emotional, cognitive and social goals.
Music therapy is the prescribed use of music by a board-certified music therapist to help patients reach non-musical goals. Goals that we work on with our pediatric population include:
Decreasing depression and anxiety
Increasing coping skills
Increasing control over environment
Eliminating or decreasing sedation for pediatric procedures
Pain Reduction and management for Invasive Procedures
Improving physical rehabilitation and development
Improving speech and language rehabilitation
Improving neurological development
Music therapists use a variety of techniques that have been proven to be significantly effective with helping pediatric patients reach the above goals. Some of the techniques used include, but are certainly not limited to, songwriting, lyric analysis and substitution, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, live music making, and improvisation and music education.
One-on-one Session with the Music Therapist
In our one-on-one sessions, the patient gets to interact with the music therapist in the privacy of his/her own hospital room. In these sessions, the patient is in control and can choose from a variety of activities as well as instruments, puppets, scarves and toys that provide for an interactive music-making experience. Patients may also decide to participate in more expressive activities, such as songwriting and music improvisation.
Music Therapy Groups
Each week, music therapy groups are provided to give pediatric patients a chance to interact with other patients through different musical activities. The activities that are provided by the music therapist are designed to bring the patients together in a fun, music making environment. Patients will have the chance to lead activities and play with a variety of instruments and toys. The music therapy groups focus on normalizing the hospital environment as well as giving the patients a chance to talk about different issues relating to the hospital environment through expressive music activities.
Music Therapy Assisted Procedural Support
When children are admitted to the hospital, they may have to undergo various tests and procedures. Some of these procedures, such as echocardiograms, CT scans and MRI scans, require sedation for small children and infants. Music therapy has been proven as a successful intervention for eliminating the need for sedation using live, familiar music as a distraction or as a catalyst for sleep. The music therapist uses a variety of instruments and materials paired with familiar songs that help the patient to relax and educate him/her on the procedure needed. Usually, the music therapist stays with the pediatric patient for the entire procedure so the music can provide comfort and a supportive and familiar environment for the patient.
Music Therapy in Neonatal Intensive Care
At a time when babies are usually growing and developing in their mother’s womb, premature infants are exposed to the busy medical environment of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and commonly endure painful treatments and procedures. The critical process of neurological development that takes place during the third trimester is usually delayed due to the stress these infants experience in the NICU. Through specific research-based techniques, music therapy has been proven successful in increasing premature infants’ tolerance to stimulation, resulting in faster weight gain and a decreased length of stay. There are two main treatments music therapy uses in the NICU; the first is multimodal stimulation which helps increase each baby’s tolerance to different types of stimulation in the NICU. Using live lullaby music sung with classical guitar accompaniment, the music therapist administers three different types of stimulation – auditory, tactile (massage) and vestibular (rocking). Through this process, each baby learns to tolerate the different sounds in the NICU as well as being touched and held. The second treatment is using a device called the pacifier-activated lullaby (PAL) and is used with preemies who are having a hard time feeding. This machine helps to teach preemies the suck, swallow and breathe reflex needed when being bottle-fed using music as a reward each time the baby sucks. As a result, these babies gain weight and leave the hospital faster.
Service Hours and Contact Information
The music therapy team is available Monday through Friday, from 9am to 5:30pm. Once a referral has been made by a Florida Hospital for Children staff member, a music therapist will come to visit every other day until the patient has been discharged. If there is a certain procedure with which you would like music therapy to assist after normal business hours, exceptions can be made if the patient is appropriate and will benefit from music therapy.
If you have any questions about our music therapy services or would like to speak with a music therapist, call Rich Moats, MT-BC, NICU MT, music therapy supervisor, Florida Hospital Orlando, at (407) 303-5600, ext. 110-3167.