COVID-19: Implications and considerations for NICU music therapy in Italy, Japan and Colombia


  • Mark Ettenberger SONO - Centro de Musicoterapia; Centro Policlínico del Olaya; Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá; Clínica de la Mujer
  • Barbara Sgobbi Hospital F. Del Ponte, Asst Settelaghi Varese
  • Rieko Eguchi Saitama Children's Medical Center
  • Yenny Marcela Beltrán Ardila SONO - Centro de Musicoterapia; Centro Policlínico del Olaya
  • Sergio Adolfo Torres Serrano Centro Policlínico del Olaya
  • Maria Elena Bolis Hospital F. Del Ponte, Asst Settelaghi Varese
  • Massimo Agosti Hospital F. Del Ponte, Asst Settelaghi Varese




This article outlines the shifts in NICU music therapy due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy, Japan, and Colombia, from the beginning of the outbreak in each of the countries until September 2020. Detailed information will be provided on how the pandemic has changed hospital policies and has had an impact on the families and the music therapy services. Furthermore, the authors discuss current biosecurity protocols, parental visiting guidelines, telehealth strategies, and the financial impact of the pandemic. While the way healthcare workers and healthcare institutions cope with the current situation may be unique according to cultural and societal particularities in each country, many overlaps between the three countries were found.

Author Biographies

Mark Ettenberger, SONO - Centro de Musicoterapia; Centro Policlínico del Olaya; Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá; Clínica de la Mujer

Mark Ettenberger, PhD, MA, MT, is an Ethno-Music therapist trained in Austria and obtained his PhD in Music Therapy from Anglia Ruskin University, UK. He is a RBL (Rhythm, Breath, Lullaby) grandparent and holds a M.A. in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from the UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace, University Jaume I, Spain. He currently lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia, where he is the director of SONO – Centro de Musicoterapia ( and a lecturer at the M.A. in Music Therapy at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He coordinates the music therapy services at the hospitals Fundación Santa Fe, Clínica de la Mujer, and Centro Policlínico del Olaya.

Barbara Sgobbi, Hospital F. Del Ponte, Asst Settelaghi Varese

Barbara Sgobbi, MA, MT, has a Master of Arts in music performance (clarinet) from University Conservatory of Music Varese, and in opera singing from G. Cantelli University Conservatory, Novara. She completed the four-year program in music therapy from the Pro-Civitate Christiana Institute in Assisi, she has completed workshops in the RBL (Rhythm Breath and Lullaby) program and a workshop in the Medical Music Therapy program with Prof. Standley. She is currently the music therapist at the NICU, Obstetrics, and Gynecology department of the Hospital Filippo Del Ponte Asst Sette Laghi Varese, Italy. She was involved in scientific research in perinatal music therapy. Barbara serves as an adjunct music therapy professor for the Music Therapy Masters program at the Pavia Medicine University, Perinatal Music Therapy program at the Varese Insubria University and for the activity/family workers’ program at the Varese Insubria Medicine University. She is the Artistic Director of the C. Saint-Saens Musical Academy - Arts for Disability Therapies and a musician in symphony and wind orchestras in Varese and Lugano (Switzerland).

Rieko Eguchi, Saitama Children's Medical Center

Rieko Eguchi, MA, MT-BC, CCLS, (grandparent of RBL model) currently works to provide music therapy in the unit of neonatology at Saitama Children’s Medical Center in Japan. She holds a M.A. in Music Therapy at Montclair State University, the U.S. She was an intern and research scholar and assisted with various research studies at The Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine in New York, September 2015 - February 2018. She also had a child life clinical internship at the center. Her clinical experiences are various including NICU, pediatrics, outpatient radiation oncology, and palliative care.  

Yenny Marcela Beltrán Ardila, SONO - Centro de Musicoterapia; Centro Policlínico del Olaya

Yenny Marcela Beltrán Ardila, Mag. MT, is a music therapist and a nurse graduated from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and is the co-coordinator of the music therapy service at the Hospital Centro Policlínico del Olaya. In her clinical work she focuses on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and on the Obstetric High Dependency Unit (OHDU) and her interests cover the maternal-perinatal spectrum including the well-being of parents, infant development, prenatal music therapy and strengthening the parent-infant relationship.

Sergio Adolfo Torres Serrano, Centro Policlínico del Olaya

Sergio Adolfo Torres Serrano, MD, is a Medical Surgeon graduated from the Universidad Industrial de Santander (UIS) and a Pediatrician from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. He holds a specialization in Neonatology and Perinatology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and is currently the Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the Hospital Centro Policlínico del Olaya and a Neonatologist at the Newborn Unit of the Hospital Marly in Bogotá, Colombia.

Maria Elena Bolis, Hospital F. Del Ponte, Asst Settelaghi Varese

Maria Elena Bolis, MS, PhD, has a Degree in Psychology from the University of Padua with a specialization in Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy, Legal Psychology, Perinatal and Prenatal Psychology and Psychopathology. She is currently the psychologist at the NICU, Obstetrics, and Gynecology department of the Hospital Filippo Del Ponte Asst Sette Laghi Varese, Italy. She has numerous publications to her credit as a scientific researcher in psychopathology.

Massimo Agosti, Hospital F. Del Ponte, Asst Settelaghi Varese

Massimo Agosti, MD, has a degree in Medicine and Surgery at the Milan University, Specialization in Pediatrics and Neonatology. He is Director of the Neonatology- NICU Department Center as well as Maternal-Child Department of territorial social and healthcare company University Insubria of Varese and ASST-Settelaghi Varese. He gained professional experience first in the pediatrics and neonatology area; promoter of breastfeeding natural and nutrition in the early stage of life in the preterm baby. He is a Professor at the Insubria University of Varese in Medicine and Pediatrics. He has numerous publications to his credit as a scientific researcher.



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