F.I.M. Federazione Italiana Musicoterapeuti

Premature children

Age of development

Precocious interventions for children with seriously premature birth.


A prolonged and apparently inconsolable crying, a constant smile, indifference, curiosity, refusal or other behaviours are the means the child has to show his position towards life. Through Body Resonance (by a direct contact with the harmonic case of a baby-grand piano) and being touched, caressed and handled by the co-therapist, the child relives emotions he lived inside his mother’s body. Every child, when he relives emotions of joy and welcoming, reacts in a personal way before opening towards new experiences. For this reason, a therapeutic context of welcoming is appropriate, which can, without turning to words, take care of the emotional world of the baby rather than considering only the damages of his particular condition. The child is the protagonist of his growing; he can open towards a wider and even renewed vision of the world which allows him to take new decisions for himself, for learning and for the relationship with the others.
In Genoa on 1st and 2nd December 2004, in the hall E.Montale of the Theatre Carlo Felice a meeting was held on the exchange of experiences with foreign centres and institutions, on the theme “The first orchestra”. The title was taken by the book "Musicoterapia, arte della comunicazione (Music therapy, art of communication)".After presenting, with Dr. Scardovelli, a series of experiences, Pr. Serra of the hospital Gaslini in Genoa underlined the validity and the deepness of music therapy. He communicated that only today, medicine works according to the principle that smaller the body, higher the pain, more serious the consequences both in time and in the relational aspect. He specified that these consequences have not monitored yet.
This statement is in contrast with what thought and taught by the official science until today, that is premature children did not feel any pain and they did not remember about it.
I described some of the consequences of pain, of its prolonging for months, of the sense of abandonment, of lack of language etc. in the book “ Music therapy, art of communication”, published in 1996. Simona Colpani, co-therapist at the A.P.M.M., founder of the “Circular Relation” (co-presence of two professionals, a music therapist and a co-therapist with parents) to intervene with multihandicapped children, traced out a diagram indicating the higher incidence of pain in a small body, for her thesis in psycho-motion before (1994) and in pedagogy two years later.
Understanding this from children, even anticipating the time, demonstrates the deepness of the message that arrives to children through body resonance during the musical game of the clinical improvisation at the piano.
These two ways of looking this “map” of suffering in a very precocious age, lead to different ways of approaching the problems that children will show when growing. Prof. Serra concluding presenting a slide where the need of passing from Cure to Care is indicated.
Interventions in music therapy focus on leading the child and the mum towards the acceptation of the occurred events, to go on discovering the value of life. Children “narrate” their lives through gestures, movements, screams, and also crying. Sharing through clinical musical improvisation at the piano and body resonance in the “Circular Relationship” allow children to undertake their way to live in their way, often in presence of brain lesions. When self-esteem takes the place of emotions and of past experiences, the child will learn how to live to be happy to live and make his parents happy.

Scientific Aspects

A seriously premature birth involves, for the surviving, being submitted to intensive and invasive therapies. This impact with life creates an “imprinting” which will be the basis of the vision of the world that the baby has already structured. Also in those cases where there is not a brain lesion or any other kind of damage (limited eyesight, deafness), with the passing of time, particular attitudes and behaviours can be seen which can compromise the success of the study, the relationship with the others and the quality of life. The sound and tonic dialogue which characterize the interaction between the music therapist and the co-therapist (Circular Relationship) create the context where the child can give vent to his emotions, his experiences to experience a wider vision of the world.
The musical game, also in the most delicate and difficult moments, is a source of joy which repeats moment after moment: in this way, the children opens towards the exploration and knowledge according to his way of being and of feeling.

Videos proposed

Video 1
Seriously premature birth.
Mummy’s voice.

Video 2
Seriously premature birth.
Beginning of music therapy – 9 years old.
What is inside the game?
- Resonance
- Coordination
- Visual attention (the child uses only an eye with lateral view)
- Joy of participating
- Game – Many little balls - One little ball– No little balls
- Sharing with mummy
- Being protagonists

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Translations Chiara Meloni