On 7th Oct, as part of our usual Wednesday work around Puffin Ward in Derby Children’s Hospital, we overheard a young boy in isolation, crying and thoroughly focussed on the marks that appeared to cover his body, itching and quite distressing him. He had toys all over his bed that seemd to be new – still to be unwrapped – but not distracting him from his discomfort.
We started playing an upbeat version of the “Valse vor Polle”, in 4 time – this did not seem to connect with him. Richard suggested we play something different – something with a gap in it…….an interesting suggestion – why would the space in the music grab someone’s attention more than continuous sound?
We started to play “Who stole my chickens and my hens?” leaving a rest in the music after each line of question in the song. After about the second time, he turned to look at us playing through the doorway. Still crying, but with gaps in his noise now, so he could hear when the music continued. Slowly but surely, his crying sounds resided and he started talking to his Mum about tthe chickens in the song – what a silly song!
There came a request – something about a frog? Nick fetched our speckled frog guiro instrument and we started playing and singing “Five Little Speckled Frogs”. We had only got as far as frog number 3, and he was smiling and opening his new toys, calmly and more relaxed.
We left them smiling, playing with new toys, and with their atmosphere changed at least for the time being. It appeared as though this young man was sufffereing with chicken pox, and we had sung songs about speckled things and chickens – only we saw the funny side to this – he did not notice at all, but seemed to benefit from the change in his day.