Music in Healthcare Settings Apprenticeships 2017-2018

We are delighted to announce the third year of our extremely successful Music in Healthcare Settings Apprenticeship programme.

Programmes from past years have seen the emergence of new Music in Healthcare practitioners and organisations engaged in new programmes of practice at Great Ormond Street and Alder Hey Children’s Hospitals amongst numerous others.

From September 2017 to June/July 2018, we are offering four paid apprenticeships, exploring Music in Healthcare Settings practice alongside highly experienced OPUS Musicians and Trainers and supporting the development of new programmes of practice.

Click on the following links for more information:

Full Apprenticeship Programme Details (pdf)
Apprenticeship Timetable (pdf)
Application Form (word)
Application Form (pdf)

The deadline for applications is midday on Thursday 8th June 2017 with interviews/auditions to be held in Derby on Thursday 29th June 2017.

This programme is made possible with the support of public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


Music in Healthcare Training: 8-12 May 2017




Applications are now CLOSED for this course as all places have been filled. Thank you for your interest. Please get in touch at to be sent details of future courses.

Applications are now open for our 5-day Music in Healthcare Settings Training course based in Derby and Sutton in Ashfield, UK.

This course will take place on 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 May 2017 at Kedleston Road Training and Development Centre, Derby and Kings Mill Hospital, Sutton in Ashfield. (Shared travel will be arranged between Derby and Kings Mill Hospital for those needing it)

More details are available here:

Music in Healthcare Training opportunity Musicians Brief May 2017 (pdf)
Application Form (pdf)
Application Form (word document)

We will be offering places on the training programme as we receive suitable applications. We will close the application process once all eight places have been filled.

You are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and before the deadline of Friday 10th March 2017 as places could fill up quickly.

Here’s what previous trainees have said about this training course:

If you are at all interested in how music can be used as a vehicle for better health, happiness and well-being…DO THIS COURSE. It was one of the most moving, enlightening and humbling weeks of my life and has confirmed 100% for me that I’m on the right path musically, professionally and personally.

This training was all about fabulous human encounters in music: with the patients, their relatives, the hospital staff, my fellow trainees, and of course with Nick, Sarah and Richard.

I would recommend doing this training if you feel excited about the possibility of using music to enrich and even transform lives in a setting that is a long way from the stage.

This course has the potential to redefine your ideas of musical performance and what it means to connect with others when making music, in healthcare settings and beyond. My notions of musicality were challenged and broken open to reveal once more the true beauty of creativity. Something I am thankful for. The course is an absolute must for musicians, healthcare staff and humanity as a whole.

Training with Opus has been an incredibly creative, exciting, moving, challenging and fun five days, that have inspired me musically and personally. I feel privileged to have met such creative and talented musicians, and feel compelled to tell everyone about the immense power of music in the hospital setting!

Every moment of the course is crucial to exploring the role of the musician in a healthcare setting. The team of professional and well-experienced facilitators firmly ground the profession within its social and cultural context and offer a structured introduction to cutting edge techniques and exploratory, collaborative experience within the hospital setting itself. I would whole-heartedly recommend attending a course with OPUS to any musician looking to have an impact in this growing area of expertise.

This is one of the best training courses I have ever attended because in such a short time it has given me musical skills and confidence I did not have, as well as opening up a new career path in a fascinating discipline

The course is incredibly fulfilling and so valuable. It was unique in how engaging, rewarding and informative it was, as well as fun! I felt at ease quickly and thoroughly enjoyed how much I learnt, both in the experiences it gave but also the practical tools I have acquired to develop my own practice and passion for music in healthcare settings.

Music in Healthcare Apprentices

We’re delighted to introduce our new Music in Healthcare Apprentices for 2015/16. This innovative programme, now in its second year, is designed to support emerging Music in Healthcare musicians in developing their own regular, professional practice.

apprentices 201516 (2)pictured L-R: Nick Cutts, Rachel Fillhart (Apprentice), Sarah Matthews, Aisling Holmes (Apprentice), Becky Eden-Green (Apprentice), Richard Kensington, Kate Jackson (Apprentice)

Last year’s programme was extremely successful, with Apprentices collaborating to form two new Music in Healthcare organisations, Wellspring Music CIC and Pulse Arts CIC, working in Nottingham and London respectively on new programmes of practice including at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. These new organisations remain connected to OPUS Music CIC through the growing Music in Healthcare Network, and through its Associate Musician Programme.

Our new Apprentices, all who previously took part in one of OPUS’ five-day Music in Healthcare Settings training programmes, have already spent a few days working alongside OPUS Musicians to begin planning their own programmes of work, and to develop repertoire and approaches to Music in Healthcare practice. Each Apprentice will work alongside mentors (OPUS Musicians) in one of our regular Children’s Hospital practices:

Becky Eden Green will be based at Leicester Children’s Hospital
Rachel Fillhart will be based at Nottingham Children’s Hospital
Aisling Holmes will be based at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital
Kate Jackson will be based at King’s Mill Hospital (Children’s wards)

We’re delighted to be able to continue our Apprenticeship programme in 2015/16, and looking forward to seeing (and hearing) new practitioners and programmes of practice emerging.

The Apprenticeship programme is made possible using public funding by Arts Council England.



Reflections on Apprenticeship: Joe Danks

Dancing in Hospital Corridorsjoe danks b&w

Jim knew that he wasn’t much of a singer or dancer, and to him, a public display of singing and dancing implied he thought himself and expert. The villagers just stared at Jim and said, “What do you mean you don’t sing?! You talk!” Jim told me later, “It was as odd to them as if I had told them that I couldn’t walk or dance, even though I have both my legs.” Singing and dancing were a natural activity in everybody’s lives, seamlessly integrated and involving everyone. The Sesotho verb for singing (ho bina), as in many of the world’s languages, also means to dance; there is no distinction, since it is assumed that singing involves bodily movement.’

This Is Your Brain On Music – Daniel Levitin 2006

To some people, making music is an activity reserved for the elite. This is no more apparent than in the UK’s concert halls, with their ritual flower bouquets and coughing breaks. This is the same for dance, an art form most commonly seen at the wedding disco. So where does that leave us, stone cold sober in the harshly clinical environment of a hospital corridor, bobbing up and down in time to ‘Wind The Bobbin Up’?

I love dancing. As a child my role in my parent’s band was to be the first on the dance-floor and to encourage others to join me. Im still doing that now! I’ve pogoed and shuffled and bopped and moshed and salsa danced to all kinds of music and I hope I always will. However, most of my dancing has been with others doing the same thing in a dimly lit venue. Using movement in my music in healthcare practice has been a relatively new exploration for me. Its important to recognise that the young people we’re working with are often dancing, and we should positively reinforce this engagement with our music.

I do this sometimes by mimicking the movement of a young person, and sometimes by responding to their movement with music too. An example of this happened in a corridor, with a young person en route somewhere with his mother. He boogied along to the music we were playing in the adjacent ward, and his mum stopped and the both stood and watched. I turned away from the ward and noticed them. The child started, slowly at first bobbing up and down with the music. I joined in, naturally! This lasted for a minute or so. The music came to a natural conclusion, and I started improvising gently around a G chord, just to keep the music and dancing going. The rest of the musicians started to join in, not only with the music but with the movement too. Dave then led us into ‘Round and Round the Village’, an English Childrens song, and we all marched!

I think this highlighted the point to me that we are only embarrassed about dancing because we are told to be, and often children are yet to feel that embarrassment. I am now as confident in using movement in the hospital ward as I am singing and playing, and I feel that it is becoming an integral part of my practice. Its useful for making people laugh, making people dance and keeping people engaged; definitely not something to be embarrased about! Perhaps we all need a little more ‘Ho Bina’ in our day to day lives?

Reflections on Apprenticeship: Marc Block

marc blockJames and I had been playing for a while with B (a boy of around 5 with Down’s), who had been enthusiastically playing on the xylophone. We played through a song and brought it to an end, and B carried on playing, so we picked up his tempo and played chords along to him until another piece of repertoire emerged and we played that through, B focussed intently all the while on his playing. There came a point where B very clearly stopped and gave the beaters to his mum, who remarked how impressed she was that we were able to play in such a way that made B the musician and us his accompanists, and that we played something really good that he was taking a leading part in. This felt like a ringing endorsement, that what she described is EXACTLY what we’re aiming for.

Three of us had played to a whole bay, where I had offered a teenage lad with cerebral palsy a shaker – a bit tentatively as I was not sure if he would be able to hold it and I knew his motor control would be limited. His face, however, was such a beaming welcome of the music that it felt right. He did hold the shaker and was able to move it from side to side and played exactly on the rhythm. The song ended and he handed it back. The others said their goodbyes and made to go, but I was having a strong feeling that the lad could happily play more. I decided to go with that and, rather than be led by the others, said we could do more and went back to him with the xylophone. He struggled a little with the beater (we need a thick-handled one!) but clearly enjoyed being able to make sounds as Rich played and we sang along, and his brother came along and helped him with it. Meanwhile, across the bay, Sarah had engaged a mother and child in more play with the glock. It seemed very much the right thing that I had followed my instinct there and gone back to him, and the others agreed. At this point in the apprenticeship (very few sessions left) I’m pleased to be taking a lead in this way.

Music in Healthcare Settings Conference: Derby, 16 July 2015

royal derby hospitalThursday 16th July 2015, 9.30am – 4.30pm Education Centre, Royal Derby Hospital, Uttoxeter New Road, Derby, UK.

We are delighted to launch the forthcoming International Music in Healthcare Conference, hosted by OPUS Music CIC in partnership with Royal Derby Hospital and Air Arts to Aid Wellbeing.

Bringing together music for health practitioners, healthcare staff, promoters, funders, researchers and other key stakeholders, this event promises to provide stimulus for discussion and debate around the ongoing development of Music in Healthcare settings across the UK and beyond.

A mix of thought-provoking presentations and discussion groups throughout the day will leave all stakeholders with new contacts and new ideas for continuing to develop their own practice.

Places are available to book for a modest charge of £10 from the Eventbrite link below (includes tea and coffee on the day).

We are also hosting a Music in Healthcare Settings ‘Music Sharing’ day on Friday 17th July 2015, to be held in Derby. Any musicians attending the conference are invited to come along from 9.30am-3.30pm (stay for as long or short a time as you like!) to make music with like-minded musicians (small charge of £2 payable on the day to cover refreshment costs).

Please email us at if you would like to come along to the Music Sharing day.

Reflections on Apprenticeship – Joe Danks

joe danks b&wMy experience as a Music In Healthcare Apprentice in 2014/15 has provided me with a fantastic platform to build my own practice in the coming months and years. I strongly believe that good MiH practice comes from experience, and that this work is all about learning how to adapt to different situations.

One thing I would like to highlight is how a combination of non-verbal approach techniques and repertoire in different languages can help overcome some of the challenges posed by cultural diversity in our hospitals. Instrumental music is not bound by language constraints at all and part of good practice is using repertoire with a ride range of languages. Working as a MiH practitioner has strengthened my belief that music is hugely effective as a communication tool between people from all backgrounds and all ages. There are countless examples of this happening in the last 6 months, and it was been noticeable from when I first engaged in this work in November 2013.

One that springs to mind happened in a neo-natal intensive care unit. Myself and Oli were working as a pair in a small space with 3 newborns. These rooms can often feel very cramped and often the breathing apparatus and monitoring machines can make them feel very noisy. For this reason it is important to be aware of the sound you are making and make sure you are not just contributing to the hum of medical equipment and causing a negative effect. Whilst we were making music with ukulele and melodeon, I feel that the most effective instrument in that space was our voices. We sung, Kyla Vuotti Uutta Kuuta (a traditional karelian wedding song sung in a Finnish dialect) and Zamina Mina (a cameroonian song sung in Fang). We also sung some traditional English Lullabies like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This seemed to be working well and the two parents in the room were making physical contact with their children and even singing to them!

We were then greeted by a young girl around 5 or 6 who had come to visit her baby sister; she was accompanied by her mum. We continued to play as they got settled. I then went to fetch the box of instruments from outside the room, and chose the Glockenspiel to get out first. I continued to play along with Oli on Melodeon but on the Glockenspiel now. Being aware of the sensitivities of the space, I carefully chose which beater to offer to the young girl and continued to play very quietly along with the music. The young girl hesitantly began to join in and grew in confidence as the music continued. We played 5 Little Speckled frogs together, and then she took to a spark shaker as we played Galopede, an english country dance tune. We were aware all this time of the other parents in the room smiling and vicariously enjoying the music making through the young girl who was clearly having a wonderful time.

As the final tune wound to a close we were asked to stop by a member of the medical team as one of the babies in the room was about to have an X-Ray and they had to move the X-Ray machine into the room. We did so quickly and packed away our instruments. It was only then did we say thank you to the young girl for playing and realise that she spoke very little english. It struck me that we had managed to facilitate music making for a young person, relax the room and provide music for patients and parents, and perhaps most crucially of all provide a platform for parents and siblings to interact with their newest family members using almost no words.

It is important to say that this is one of the instances where music has really been useful to overcome cultural barriers, but this is not always the case. There has been times where it has not worked so well (presuming that every child knows wind the bobbin up springs to mind!). Even the trickiest interactions provide an opportunity to learn, and I am trying to soak in as much as I can from the apprenticeship programme as I begin work at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a hospital that will provide an even more diverse body of young people to make music with and learn from.