Music Therapy Professor Recognized

UA music therapy student Ellyn Hamm, holding guitar, sings to an infant while Cevasco charts.

UA music therapy student Ellyn Hamm, holding guitar, sings to an infant while Dr. Andrea Cevasco-Trotter charts. Cevasco-Trotter’s research in music therapy, much of it focused on premature infants, has earned her recognition from the American Music Therapy Association.

From the March 2015 Desktop News | Dr. Andrea Cevasco-Trotter, director of music therapy and associate professor in the School of Music, has been selected to receive one of the highest awards presented by the American Music Therapy Association. Cervasco-Trotter was recognized for making significant contributions to research in music therapy and for inspiring others through her publications, presentations and teaching. She received the AMTA Research and Publication Award at the AMTA National Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

“It is an honor to receive this research award, but it seems odd to receive an award for something that I enjoy doing,” Cevasco-Trotter said. “I feel that it is my responsibility to engage in research to determine evidence-based practice for the clients I serve. Oftentimes people think we just sing to people in the hospital or provide music classes in schools, not realizing that music therapists provide assessment, treatment planning, implementation and evaluation of services as a part of the treatment team. Music therapists provide evidence-based treatment and help people with non-music goals, such as motor, cognitive, communication, social, emotional and spiritual needs. Patient-preferred music brings about the greatest results.”

Cevasco-Trotter’s research focuses on the effects of music therapy on developmental outcomes of premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit, as well as the effects of music therapy on stress hormones, cognition and social responses of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementia. She loves working with premature infants in the NICU, where she often sees the effects of music therapy immediately and over time.

“Infants in the NICU are exposed to loud noises, bright lights, and medical procedures that inhibit necessary sleep for neurological growth and development,” she said. “In partnership with the medical staff at DCH Regional Medical Center, we have been able to systematically examine the effects of music on premature infants as young as 25 weeks post-corrected age and weighing about one pound at birth. It is amazing to watch these infants’ heart rate decrease to appropriate ranges, indicating less stress, while we sing very simple songs in a lullaby style. We also see their oxygen saturation levels increase, which allows medical staff to decrease the amount of oxygen provided and is important for lung development.

“Based on my last research study, infants who weighed less than three pounds at birth and received music therapy went home 13 days earlier than those in the non-music group.”

Cevasco-Trotter is a fellow of the National Institute for Infant and Child Medical Music Therapy. Her research has been published in the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives, and she has written several book chapters over the past year. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Music Therapy and Music Therapy Perspectives. She is also on the board of directors for the Certification Board for Music Therapists, the research committee for the American Music Therapy Association, and the research committee for the Southeastern Region of the American Music Therapy Association.