Implementing music in the intensive care unit has increased in popularity because the environment can be stressful and anxiety inducing for many patients. In hospital settings, therapeutic music can be beneficial for patients’ well-being and recovery. Although live music typically involves a face-to-face encounter between the musician and patient, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a change to virtual live therapeutic music, using technology to present music in real time (eg, with a tablet computer).


To generate novel findings regarding patients’ perceptions of virtual live therapeutic music, which has been little studied compared with live or recorded music..


Fifty patients in Vanderbilt University Medical Center intensive care units listened to virtual live music played by a volunteer musician via an online video communication platform. Patients’ responses to 5 survey questions were transcribed and analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively using data analysis software.


Seven major themes describing the familiarity and significance of music for patients were identified. Forty-seven patients (94%) experienced positive emotions from the music, 46 (92%) indicated that music was a significant part of their lives, 28 (56%) accessed a cherished memory, and 45 (90%) indicated that they would not change anything.


Therapeutic virtual music was well received and provided tangible benefits to patients. Additional research would provide information on patients’ outcomes and differences between live and virtual live music.

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