Amy Smith, a Certified Child Life Specialist and Board Certified Music Therapist, works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. In this AMTA-Pro Podcast, Amy describes situations she encounters in her daily work and ways in which music therapy interventions impact the infants and their families during these critical days. For example, she discusses ways in which music can help parents connect with their little ones, normalize interactions, develop family rituals and familiar routines in the hectic hospital atmosphere, help their baby reach developmental milestones even when chronically ill, and celebrate in the midst of stress. Amy’s experience and insights are valuable to all music therapists, and a call for continued research and advances in clinical practice for music therapy with medically fragile infants.


Music Therapy and Medically Fragile Infants

Amy Smith, MA, MT-BC, CCLS

AMTA-Pro Podcast

January, 2013

 — + —

Amy writes, “I have been a Board Certified Music Therapist and Certified Child Life Specialist for 6 years working in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.  After completing my Masters Equivalency degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I moved to Galveston, Texas for my music therapy internship at Shriner’s Burns Hospital.  Dr. Hanson-Abromeit from UMKC introduced me to the NICU during my graduate coursework, and I have been pursuing this population ever since.  My experiences in 3 different Neonatal Intensive Care Units both in the US and Australia have broadened both my understanding of and clinical skills with this population. I currently work at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, TX

Helping families learn to interact with their medically fragile infants continues to draw me to working with infants and families. It motivates my desire to continue developing new and creative interventions that meet individual family and infant needs. I have participated in a multi-site research study on multi-modal stimulation, and I have presented with my music therapy colleague, Christine Neugebauer, at multiple conferences about our clinical work and music therapy interventions with medically fragile infants and toddlers. Every day I have the privilege of collaborating with a variety of professionals, and my role as a Certified Child Life Specialist allows me to have a very broad participation in the care of the infants throughout their hospitalization. I have seen music therapy become a very important normalizing experience for infants and families during their hospitalization, and I look forward to continued advances in our field with this population.”

Podcast Resources

“All in the Mind – Music. Is it really therapeutic?” featuring Helen Shoemark, one of Amy’s mentors

Interview with Helen Shoemark – Interview with Helen Shoemark

Article about medically fragile infants and singing

Link to book Amy recommends with family centered care chapter

Research study Amy participated in