Memories to Melodies: Legacy Building Interventions in Pediatric Palliative Care

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Image of music therapist Amanda Maestro Scherer

How can pediatric patients receiving palliative care and their families live a life filled with meaning, connection, and beauty, while simultaneously grieving the anticipatory loss of a life not fully lived? This presentation will explore the role of music therapy within the interdisciplinary team in pediatric palliative care and end-of-life care. Frameworks from the literature will be discussed and recommendations for memory-making and legacy-building opportunities will be reviewed. These concepts will be further highlighted through a variety of case examples and consented media recordings demonstrating how specific music therapy interventions were utilized throughout the disease progression. As death is something that connects us all, ways in which we as music therapists can support during these times can be an opportunity for shared empathy across cultures and nationalities. Considerations regarding process versus product, the importance of cultural humility, navigating personal countertransference, boundaries and self-care will be examined.

Learner Objectives

  1. Participants will identify three music therapy interventions that support legacy building in the pediatric palliative care setting. (III. A. 2. J, o, x)
  2. Participants will identify three ways in which music therapy legacy work addresses the clinical needs of pediatric patients and their families during palliative care treatment. (II. D. 4)
  3. Participants will identify three personal self-care practices to utilize in order to maintain boundaries in emotionally charged environments. (V. B. 10, 12) (III. A. F)
  4. Participants will consider two clinical pediatric palliative care case scenarios and identify at least two ways in which cultural humility was essential to the treatment process. (V. B. 2)
  5. Participants will define two differences between pediatric palliative care and end-of-life care. (III. B. 3)


Amanda Maestro-Scherer has been practicing music therapy for fifteen years, with extensive experience in end-of-life care with children and adults. She is the owner of Maestro Music Therapy in NYS.

Lydia Westle has been practicing music therapy for 12 years and specializes in working with pediatric palliative care patients and their families. Lydia currently works at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.