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May 21st, 2009
Music and Medicine
Music Therapy for Infants
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Dr. Joanne Loewy: The fetus hears the mother’s heartbeat 26 million times before the baby is born. So with this Gato box we could actually recreate the heart sounds.

The Gato box is actually a drum, but we use it without the mallet as a box. And we try to entrain to the baby’s heart rate so we could create a rhythm for the suck, much like if you went to the gym and you went on the treadmill and you play music, you would entrain to that beat. It would help you work out, the rhythm would support your movement.

We use it without a mallet because it would be too jarring. You’ll notice it’s a kind of quiet sound and it’s enclosed, much like the baby would experience in the womb.

We expect the heart rate to go up a little bit in the transition, so we saw that at the beginning. It was high 189, 190. But then very soon the baby was stable transitioning from quiet alert to almost a sleep state.

  • Michael

    In response to the series in general as well as specifically related to the segment on babies and music)

    I like the shows – can you put them on the new PBS video server so that I might watch entire episodes I have missed ? I don’t watch much broadcast TV anymore.
    (<> in Phila at least)

    it might be explained in another part of the program, but why are the sounds not just recorded so the baby would have access to them more (and presumably have a greater commensurate benefit from the increased exposure)

    also it might be explained in another part of the program, but does the performer have some sort of palsy or is that hand movement she is doing part of an idiosyncratci performative aspect ?



  • Michael

    for missing reference to above

  • JEN

    In a quick response to the question re: recording the rhythm, it is much more effective and appropriate to use live music in order to respond and adapt to your client’s needs ‘in the moment’.

  • Micheline

    As a neonatologist and a music therapist, I can share with you that the live music is a criticial aspect of the music therapy being implemented and as I understand, is being researched at this hospital and other hospitals throughout the Northeast. The movement of the music therapist’s play/pulse in this case is entrained to the infant’s vital signs. It is carefully timed, and played to match the meter of the suck rhythm-in this case. And in another clip is matched to the respiratory rhythm. The rhythm used depends on diagnosis and/or goal. One cannot achieve this with recorded music, where the pulse is fixed and the dynamic level is not carefully monitored. Recorded sounds and music are not ‘alive’-Though recordings may be lovely; recorded music is not attuned to match the infant’s meter-or vital rhythms which change from moment to moment and warrant the attention and attunement of a trained music therapist-who can also show and instill parents/caregivers capacity for emphasizing such attunement.

  • Fran

    thank you soo much for making this documentry. One day i hope to become a music therapist and this helped me understand more about it.

  • Krista

    Live music, provided by a music therapist, is necessary for music therapy to be effective because it is necessary to react “in the moment”, changing to meet the needs of the client immediately. The energy created by the human being is also an aspect of the therapy that can not be ignored. Consider the difference of listening to a band on recording, as opposed to in concert. Even if you can not see, you can feel the difference. Also consider reading a book to a child. A child will get more out of reading with an adult, than to listening to the book on recording.

    For these reasons, live music has been primarily used in music therapy. It has been proven, however, that recorded music can be used for very specific goals in the NICU. The work of Jane Standley with FSU has shown that a pacifier activated lullaby (which is a recording of lullabies) can be used to encourage babies to suck with increasing strength and also at more consistent intervals to keep from tiring themselves out. This intervention is still overseen by a trained music therapist, however, it is sometimes appropriate for interventions to utilize recorded music.

  • Carlos A. Boyce Jr.

    This was very cool, because as a drummer percussionist and recording engineering teacher, this is an area of helping to change the perspective of the average music traditionalist to understand what music soothing the person means.
    The need for music therapist are needing very much in this world we live in to help to engage the response of the people in this world, even if the average person think that music is for the taking, but the precious motivation of the candy for the soul is far more real , because in this video it shows that the babies respond to the mother’s heartbeat in a way that control their understanding of symbiosis when it come to MOM.

    I am involve in researching this area , as a musician for 37 years of my life , I use music therapy to help kids read and to help people respond to the colors of music.

    Please help change the perspective of the masses in understanding how music therapy and the creative arts in general engage and motivate the Brain.
    As an engineer , it is important to feel frequencies that can help the organs in the bodies , hearing is secondary!

  • Forex

    Fantastic. This blog rocks!

  • rakitta m. fischer

    this has inspired me … i loved watching the script. i am only 13 years old and i think that this has now brought me to an understanding of music and babys… i think that you have finally helped me to find my carreer for my life.


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