Music Therapy in the NICU

Photo of a baby lying on a blanket, looking at the camera.
Saturday, May 19, 2018 - 9:00am to Sunday, May 20, 2018 - 5:00pm

This continuing education workshop for Music Therapy professionals will review how to design and implement evidence-based live music therapy methods to meet the health needs of infants in the NICU

About the Course

  • This 2-day course will review normal infant development, with an emphasis on neurological and hearing development, the effects of premature birth and opioid exposure in utero on infant development.
  • Participants will learn, and have the opportunity to demonstrate evidence-based live music therapy methods that can be used to address respiratory, sleep, feeding and self-regulatory difficulties.
  • Participants will also learn how to create lullabies that meet the cultural, developmental, physical and emotional needs of the infant and family.
  • This training is based on the principles of the Rhythm, Breath and Lullaby training.


About the Instructor

Dr. Kathleen M. Murphy, PhD, MT-BC is the Coordinator of Music Therapy at Loyola University. She is a clinician, supervisor, and researcher with over 30 years of clinical experience in healthcare and educational institutions. She has authored book chapters and journal articles and is the associate editor of Music Therapy Research, (3rd Edition). Her research interests are focused on music therapy in substance dependence treatment across the life span and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Course Objectives

  • Participants will describe normal development from the 3rd trimester through 18 months
  • Participants understand development of hearing and the implications for music therapy.
  • Participants will describe the effect of premature birth on the brain
  • Participants will describe the characteristics of neonatal abstinence syndrome
  • Participants will describe how to assess and develop a treatment plan for patients in the NICU
  • Participants will demonstrate the knowledge and application of live music interventions to address respiratory, sleep, feeding, and quiet-alert opportunities
  • Participants will describe indications & contraindications for music therapy
  • Participants will explain the evidence for the use of music in the NICU



This training takes place in the Music and Communications building on Loyola's campus.

May 19, 2018

  • 8:30 am Registration
  • 9:00 am Overview & Introductions 15 minutes
  • 9:15 am The Philosophy of the “Rhythm, Breath & Lullaby” informed training 10 minutes
  • 9:25 am Overview of normal infant development 35 minutes


10:00 am Break 20 minutes


  • 10:20 am Infant Neurodevelopment 30 minutes
  • 10:50 am Effect of Premature Birth on Neurodevelopment 15 minutes
  • 11:05 am Auditory Development & Preventing Hearing Damage 15 minutes
  • 11:20 am Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome & other conditions 30 minutes
  • 11:50 am Review & Questions 10 minutes


12:00 to 1:30 Lunch 90 minutes


  • 1:30 pm Evidence-Based Practice: Music & Music Therapy in the NICU 30 minutes
  • 2:00 pm Assessment & Goal Setting in the NICU 30 minutes


2:30 pm Break 20 minutes


  • 2:50 pm Overview of Music Therapy Methods 10 minutes
  • 3:00 pm Entrainment: Definition, Practice & Skill Assessment 60 minutes
  • 4:00 pm Ocean Disc: Uses, Practice, & Skill Assessment 60 minutes


May 20, 2018 

  • 9:00 am Check in & Review 15 minutes
  • 9:15 am The Gato Box: Uses, Practice & Skill Assessment 30 minutes
  • 9:45 am Contingent Singing & Tonal Vocal Holding, Practice & Assessment 60 minutes
  • 10:45 am Song of Kin: Definition, Uses, & Examples 30 minutes
  • 11:15 am Review & Questions 15 minutes


11:30 to 2:00 Lunch 120 minutes


  • 2:00 pm Lullaby Creation 45 minutes
  • 2:45 pm Sedation Protocol 45 minutes


3:30 pm Break 20 minutes


  • 3:50 pm Lullaby Presentations & Feedback 30 minutes
  • 4:20 pm Guidelines for Using Recorded Music & Discussion 30 minutes
  • 4:50 pm Review & Questions 15 minutes
  • 5:05 pm Course Evaluations 10 minutes


End at 5:15 pm


Continuing Education Credit

This continuing education course is approved by the Certification Board for Music Therapists to award 13 Continuing Music Therapy Education Credits. Loyola University Music Therapy Program (#P-176) maintains responsibility for program quality and adherence to CBMT policies and criteria.


Register online


  • Professionals: $100.00
  • MTALA Members: $85.00
  • Loyola Alumni: $75.00
  • Loyola Students and Interns: Free




For questions about the program, contact Dr. Kathleen Murphy at 504-865-2122 or