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Music Therapy


    • Dr. Helen Shoemark completed her training at The University of Melbourne and University of Kansas. She has more than 30 years’ experience as a clinical music therapist. Moving from special education and early intervention into pediatrics, she established the first program in neonatology in Australia at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne in 1996.

      As a team leader for Sensory Experience in Early Development at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, her research focuses on auditory experience and specifically maternal voice to support infant development in hospital. She is a founding member of the Applied Music and Neuroscience in Paediatrics Group drawing together researchers and clinicians in acute paediatrics.  She is the founder of the Music and the Neuro-Developmentally At-Risk Infant group (MANDARI) which is an international group of neuroscientists, music therapists, medical professionals, public health experts and parents collaborating to build effective music programs for neurologically at-risk infants. Shoemark continues as a Senior Fellow in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Melbourne where she supervises PhD research.

      Shoemark is an Associate Editor for theJournal of Music Therapy. Until recently, she was the Editor of theAustralian Journal of Music Therapyand Chair of Communications for the International Association for Music and Medicine, overseeing the journalMusic and Medicine.She has served as national President and Chair of Registration for the Australian Music Therapy Association."

    • Shoemark, H. (e-pub 2017). Time Together: A feasible program to promote parent-infant interaction in the NICU. Music Therapy Perspectives.

      Shoemark, H. (July 2016). How does music foster intimacy? In Skewes McFerran, K. (Ed.). How Music Can Change Your Life ... and the World: A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

      Invited – peer reviewed journals

      Shoemark, H. (2014). The fundamental interaction of singing.  Special Issue: Music therapy in Neonatal Care - Commentary. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy; 23(1):2-4. DOI:10.1080/08098131.2014.876178

      Shoemark, H. (2013) The pragmatic reality of clinical research. Editorial. Journal of Music Therapy; 50(3): 150-154

      Reviewed - Peer reviewed journals

      Shoemark, H., Harcourt, E., Arnup, S., & Hunt. R. Characterizing the ambient sound environment for infants in intensive care wards. Journal of Paediatric and Child Health; 52(4):436-440. doi:10.1111/jpc.13084.

      Tan, E. & Shoemark, H.(2017). Case study: The feasibility of using song as a cue in expressive language intervention. Music Therapy Perspectives, 35(1), 63–70. doi:10.1093/mtp/miv039

      Shoemark, H., Hanson-Abromeit, D., & Stewart, L. (2015). Constructing optimal experience for the hospitalized newborn through neuro-based music therapy. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

      Engelbrecht, R. & Shoemark, H. (2015). The acceptability and efficacy of using iPads in music therapy to support wellbeing with older adults: A pilot study. Australian Journal of Music Therapy, 26, 52-73.

      Shoemark, H. (2015). Culturally transformed music therapy in the perinatal and paediatric Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: An international report. Music and Medicine;7 (2):34-36.

      Dearn T. & Shoemark H. (2014). The effect of maternal presence on premature infant response to recorded music. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecological, and Neonatal Nursing; 43: 341-350. 

      Yeung, C., Baker, F. & Shoemark, H. (2014). Song Preferences of Chinese Older Adults living in Australia. Australian Journal of Music Therapy, 25, 103-121

      Shoemark, H. & Arnup, S. (June, 2014).  A survey of how mothers think about and use voice with their hospitalized newborn infant. Journal of Neonatal Nursing; 20:115-121. DOI:

      McFerran, K. & Shoemark, H. (2013). How musical engagement promotes wellbeing in education contexts: The case of a young main with profound and multiple disabilities. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being; 8: 20570 -

      Bower, J, Catroppa, C., Grocke, D., & Shoemark, H. (2014). Music therapy for early cognitive rehabilitation post childhood TBI: An intrinsic mixed methods case study. Developmental Neurorehabilitation; 17:339-346.  DOI: 10.3109/17518423.2013.778910.

      Malloch, S., Shoemark, H., Črnčec, R. Newnham, C., Paul, C., Prior, M., Coward, S. & Burnham, D. (2012). Music Therapy with hospitalised infants – the art and science of intersubjectivity, Infant Mental Health Journal; 33(4):386-399. DOI:10.1002/imhj.21346 

      Bower, J. & Shoemark, H. (2012). Music therapy for the pediatric patient experiencing agitation during posttraumatic amnesia: Constructing a foundation from theory. Music & Medicine; 4:146-152.

      Olischar, M., Shoemark, H., Holton, T., Weninger, M., & Hunt, R. (2011). The influence of music on aEEG activity in neurologically healthy newborns >32 weeks’ gestational age. Acta Paediatrica, 100, 670-675.

      Shoemark, H. & Grocke, D. (2010). The markers of interplay between the music therapist and the medically fragile newborn infant. Journal of Music Therapy, 47, 306-334.

      Book chapters

      Shoemark, H. & Dearn, T. (2015). Music therapy in the medical care of infants. Oxford Handbook of Music Therapy. London: Oxford University Press. DOI:10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199639755.013.23

      Shoemark, H. & Hanson-Abromeit, D. (2015). Music therapy in the NICU. In B. Wheeler (Ed.) Music Therapy Handbook, pp 415-424. New York: Guilford.

      Shoemark, H. (2013). Contingent singing as a therapeutic intervention for the hospitalised full-term neonate. In F. Thomson-Salo and C. Paul, The Baby as Subject: Clinical Studies in Infant-Parent Therapy. London: Karnac

      Shoemark, H. (2013). Working with full-term hospitalized infants. J. Bradt (Ed.) Guidelines for Music Therapy Practice: Pediatric Care. (pp.116-151). Philadelphia: Barcelona Publishers.  

      Shoemark, H. (2012). Frameworks for using music as a therapeutic agent for hospitalised newborn infants. In N. Rickard & K. McFerran (Eds.). Lifelong engagement in music: Benefits for mental health and well-being. pp1-20. New York: Nova Science Press.

      Shoemark, H. (2012). Family-centred music therapy for infants with complex medical and surgical needs.  In M. Nocker (Ed.). Hőren – Brűcke ins leben.  Musiktherapie mit frűh – und neugeborenen kindern: Forschung und klinische praxis. 2nd Edition, (pp.175-192). Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

      Shoemark, H. (2011). Contingent singing: The musicality of companionship with the hospitalized newborn infant. In Baker, F. & S. Uhlig (Eds.). Therapeutic Voicework in Music Therapy. pp. 229-249. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

      Shoemark, H. (2011). Translating “infant-directed singing” into a strategy for the hospitalised family. In J. Edwards (Ed.) Music therapy and parent-infant bonding. pp. 162 – 178. London: Oxford University Press.

      Technical papers

      Shoemark, H. (2015). Consensus in Practice and Service.  Project report: Music Therapy Quality Project.  The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.     

      Shoemark, H. & McCarthy, M. (2015). Shaping expectations every day: Infant care in the CCC.  Report to the Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service. The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.    

      Shoemark, H. (2012). Competencies for the Clinical Music Therapist in the NICU. Australian Music Therapy Association Paediatric Health Reference Group.

      Shoemark, H (2011). Parent Information about Newborn Babies: Interacting.  Kids Health Info, The Royal Children’s Hospital.

    • Invited keynotes and plenaries

      Plenary Panel Facilitator. ‘What are the musical pathways to a healthy society?’ Australian Music Therapy Association Conference, Melbourne, Sept 2013.

      Keynote speaker: ‘Applying the evidence base to clinical practice: Auditory experience in the neurodevelopment and psychological well-being of hospitalised infants’. Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane 20th Anniversary Paediatric Music Therapy Symposium, July 25th, 2013.

      Plenary speaker: ‘Auditory experience in the neurodevelopment and psychological well-being of hospitalised infants’, Invited speaker, International Conference on Music Therapy, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth University, Pondicherry India, February 2013.

      Keynote speaker: ‘Auditory experience as a key aspect of healthcare for hospitalised newborns’. Keynote Speaker. International Conference of the International Association of Music & Medicine, Bangkok, July 2012.

      Keynote speaker: Contingent singing - bringing to consciousness a strategy for infant and attuned partner.’ Converging Disciplines in NICU Care: Psychophysiology, Neurology, NIDCAP, and Music Therapy seminar for The Louis Armstrong Center for Music & Medicine, New York, June 2011

      Keynote speaker: Contingent singing with the medically fragile newborn infant. International Summit for NICU-Music Therapy, New York, USA Aug, 2010. 

      Major international presentations - invited

      Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London, UK, Public seminar: First Sounds & Beyond. Low intensity music therapy services to maximize parental self-efficacy in the NICU. March 2017.

      Applied Music Neuroscience in Paediatrics Group Making new friends: Neuroscience and music therapy. Australian Music Therapy Association National Professional Development Seminar, September, Melbourne. 2013.

      Auditory experience in the neurodevelopment and psychological well-being of hospitalised infants.  Maternal Child & Family Nurse National Conference, Canberra, May 10th 2013. 

      Auditory experience in the neurodevelopment and psychological well-being of hospitalized infants.  MD3Student Conference, Melbourne Medical School, Melbourne, May 9th, 2103.

      Current research and clinical models around neurodevelopmental issues for late preterm and full-term infants. Invited presentation to the Combined Intensive Care Research Group Meeting, Texas Children’s Hospital, October, 2012.

      Music in the NICU and PICU. Invited presentation to the Child Life & Social Work Departments, Texas Children’s Hospital, October, 2012.

      ‘Constructing a clinical service for the medically fragile infant in the context of family.’ Presentation to the tri-state multi-centre research meeting Beth Israel Hospital, New York, June 2011

      Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, London, UK, Public seminar: Where does the music begin? June 2010.

      Peer reviewed presentations

      Hanson-Abromeit, D., Shoemark, H. & Mattney B. MANDARI: The emergence of an international, interdisciplinary research and practice group. American Music Therapy Association Conference, Louisville Kentucky, USA, Nov, 2014.

      Panel Chair: Culturally Transformed Music Therapy in the Perinatal and Paediatric NICU. World Congress of Music Therapy, Krems, Austria July, 2014.

      Hanson-Abromeit, D (USA) & Shoemark, H. (Aust) A theory-based conceptual framework for music-based interventions with premature infants. World Congress of Music Therapy, Krems, Austria July, 2014.

      Shoemark, H. Newborn Music Therapy: Culture of the family. World Congress of Music Therapy, Krems, Austria July, 2014.

      Shoemark, H. A model of intersecting theories for music therapy at the beginning of life. 3rd International Conference of the International Association for Music & Medicine, Toronto, June, 2014.

      Shoemark, H., Gentle, E & Bower, J.  The clinical interface of neuroscience and music therapy: A peer education program. Victorian Allied Health Conference, Melbourne, Mar 2014.

      Shoemark, H., Gentle, E. & Bower, J. The emerging and re-emerging musical brain: The clinical interface of neuroscience and music therapy. Music Mind & Health conference, Australian Music Psychology Conference, Melbourne, Nov 2013.

      Shoemark, H. The significance of the human voice for hospitalised newborn infants. Music Mind and Body International Seminar, Perth, June, 2013. 

      Shoemark, H. Invited panel: Ethics in NICU treatment and research: Protecting this most fragile population. American Music Therapy Conference, St Charles, Ill, USA Oct 2012.

      Shoemark, H. Understanding how mothers think about and use their voice with their hospitalised newborn infant. 38th National Music Therapy Conference, Sydney, Sept 2012.

      Shoemark, H. Explicating interplay with the medically fragile newborn infant. Workshop.  9th International Music Medicine Symposium, Minneapolis, USA, June 2011.

      Hunt, M., Shoemark, H., Docherty, L., Punch, S., Dun, B., & Bower, J.  Reconciling creativity and accountability: Job satisfaction in acute paediatrics. 37th National Conference of the Australian Music Therapy Association, Brisbane, Sept 2011.

      Dearn, T. & Shoemark, H. An investigation of premature infant response to recorded music with maternal involvement versus no maternal involvement. 36th National Conference of the Australian Music Therapy Association, Melbourne, Sept 2010. 

      Shoemark, H. Explicating interplay with the medically fragile newborn infant. Paper presented to the 12th World Congress of the World Association of Infant Mental Health, Leipzig, Germany, July, 2010.