Tuesday 9th July saw Richard Kensington and Sarah Matthews of Opus, out on the sunny roof in the play area of a Children’s Hospital. There were many patients enjoying the sunshine with parents and visitors and staff. We met one little girl dancing around with a tennis racket in a pretty white dress. We played for her, and others present, and allowed time for everyone to get accustomed to the music and instruments in that space.
Wind the Bobbin Up seemed appropriate, with voice and actions and instruments. We sang together for a while, and other patients joined in and began exploring the musical instruments in our box. The Mother of the little girl said that it had been a great way to kill time and relax a bit whilst waiting for her operation. I checked which ward they were going back to, thinking to myself that it might be possible to follow through this little girl’s day, and help her later. They were based in a ward that we had not visited yet.
After spending quite a while longer out on the roof, singing and playing to patients in the ball pool, up the stairs and down the slide, on the bikes, and other activities, we settled in the shaded area with one young man who was very interested in exploring the xylophone with patterns and a variety of tonal combinations.
When he had finished, we wandered back into the ward, and found the little girl from the roof ready in her operation gown, crying in her Mummy’s arms whilst waiting to go down to surgery. We began with Twinkle Twinkle and gained her attention again. She stopped crying and listened more calmly. Dad told us she really liked Row Row Row Your Boat, and made a few suggestions for variations to the words, which we were happy to incorporate. Then it was time to get into bed and go down the corridor to surgery. I checked with Mum that she was happy for us to stay with them and follow them down the corridor to the lift area. Mum was very keen for us to support as she commented she was amazed at the effect of the music on her daughter, and herself also.
The staff arrived and it was time to process down to the lifts. Rich and I played The Grand Old Duke Of York and sang as we followed the family out of the bay and through the ward and across to the lift area. The little girl was listening and stayed calm. We left them as the lift door closed, and Mum was saying she could not believe how the music had helped in making the while process go more smoothly and with less stress.
Rich and I went about our business for lunchtime and the early part of the afternoon. Finally we worked our way back to the bay where we found the little girl had returned from her operation and was calmly coming round from the anaesthetic and having a drink. We were able to choose gentle pieces to ease her back to reality in a relaxed way.
When I gave Mum and Dad our business card and asked if they would like to comment on how the music had affected their day, they said they definitely would and it had made a huge difference!