Derbyshire Children’s Hospital

Music in Healthcare Settings Training

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From 11th-17th April, we have been busy delivering our latest 5-day training course for musicians, exploring the skills and competencies required of a musician to work in healthcare settings.

Over the course of five days, 8 trainees and 3 trainers have worked together to develop their skills, knowledge and awareness and visited the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital to make music with patients, visitors and staff on medical and surgical wards, in Neonatal Intensive Care and in Children’s Accident and Emergency.

All found the training experience to be stimulating, exciting and hugely developmental. We would like to thank our fantastic group of trainees for their music, their passion for this practice and for their deep reflection which has helped us all to learn and to develop.

Thanks also to our funders and supporters of this practice, including the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital, Youth Music and Derbyshire Music Partnership for making this training course possible.

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“Can we sing another song?”

Working in Derby Children’s Hospital with Nick Cutts and Rich Kensington today we played our way along the upper wards in the morning. We met a young patient who was so relaxed and open about her music and singing, she just couldn’t get enough of making music with us.

We started with “Yellow Bird” as an instrumental piece and then a sung song. The patient and another friend in hosptial were both offered a shaker instrument to join in with – which they both did with great joy in their faces – sometimes fast, and then slow, and then stopping to listen to the music on its own.

I smiled at the patient and asked if there was anything that she liked to sing – to which the answer was certainly “yes”. She said her favourite was “The Wheels on the Bus”. Oh great we know that one – and we sorted out which verses we could cover. This young patient, lying on her back for medical reasons, unable to sit up, joined in and led the song, thinking of new different verses with Mum’s help. Her voice was quite confident and happy and clear, such that a group of doctors standing nearby on their rounds, stopped and looked up from their work.

“Can we sing another song?” came her voice, at the end of that one…..we decided on Five Little Speckled Frogs, and encouraged her to help with the counting. She was not quite so confident with the words on this one, but none-the-less made every effort to join in with us.

She then became interested in my violin and I moved around the other side of her bed and showed her the instrument. She plucked the strings with such care and sensitivity. Then I explained how to touch the bow, and with Mum’s hand on one end of the bow, hers in the middle and mine at one end, we drew the bow back a forth across the D string.

“Can we sing another song?” she asked, whilst still bowing the D string on the violin…..Twinkle Twinkle in D major of course, worked really nicely. She played so gently and sang the words at the same time.

So lovely to meet this young patient – to listen to her voice and share those musical moments. The fact that we were in hospital did not really matter – the fact that she was lying down didn’t seem to hinder her participation and indeed, leadership in the music.

We did indeed sing another song.

Music in Healthcare Training Opportunity – 11th-17th April 2013

We are pleased to announce that our next Music in Healthcare Settings training programme for musicians will take place on 11th, 12th, 15th, 16th and 17th April. This will take place in Derby, UK, with part of the time spent at the Royal Derby Hospital/Derbyshire Children’s Hospital.
A full brief and application form are attached below. You are advised to send your application asap as places may fill up quickly.
Please get in touch with any questions you may have.

Music in Healthcare Training opportunity Artists Brief April 2013
Application Form (pdf)
Application Form (.doc)

Some of the feedback from our last course:

‘Thank you so much for this opportunity. It was such a pleasure to explore such an exciting aspect of music making with such lovely like minded musicians, with such a high level of professional standard from the trainers delivering this course. I can’t believe we made such fantastic progress in only five days, and I am thoroughly invigorated by what I have seen can be achieved with music in a hospital setting.’

Taking time to be with people

A big part of our work as musicians in hospitals is to be there as a musician and a human being spending time with other human beings, to make music for and with them and to create a cultural venue within a clinical environment.

We often get asked if it is emotionally difficult to spend so much time in hospitals, especially with children. There are, of course, always emotional moments in our practice, and we allow ourselves to be emotional as part of our professional practice, indeed it is important that this emotion becomes part of our music-making to allow us to be ‘in-tune’ with the patients, visitors and staff with whom we work. We must always be careful, however, that we do not project our own emotions onto others – this is also part of our professional undertaking.

It is, however, more normal for us to work with the well-part of the person, to enhance and support the cultural, vibrant, and well part of the person. Medical staff work hard to take a holistic approach to their work, however, they are principally there to treat the illness. We are hugely privileged to be able to take the time for this approach, one which seems to complement and support the work of the hospital staff so well.

Over recent weeks, we have seen this human-to-human approach work so well. In Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, working with elderly patients and those with spinal and neurological injuries, we have recently been able to take more time to explore musical interests with individual patients, to support them in singing and playing musical instruments with us, and to rediscover their creative and cultural selves. Medical staff have observed and taken part in some of these sessions, making new, human-to-human contact with patients and seeing new potential despite their illness or injury. It is fantastic to be able to support these new patient-staff partnerships.

In children’s hospitals, the time spent with individual patients and their families becomes special time, time for a parent and new baby to bond in a neonatal intensive care unit, time for ‘normal life’ to resume if only for a moment, time for music 🙂 When doctors, nurses and other hospital staff become part of these interactions, the space and relationships within the hospital change completely, and we are all human beings together.

Leo Tolstoy wrote (What is Art, 1897):
‘… In order correctly to define art, it is necessary, first of all, to cease to consider it as a means to pleasure and to consider it as one of the conditions of human life… Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings and also experience them.’

It’s wonderful to be able to share music-making, a ‘condition of human life’, with all those we encounter in hospitals.

More feedback

This time from some of our artistic young participants taking part at children’s hospitals around the region…

Some feedback from the past 2 weeks…

Here’s a small selection of feedback from children’s hospital patients and parents from the past two weeks….

Thank you so much for the musical experience this morning. What a lovely surprise…… it was fantastic that you came in with your instruments so that both children and adults could have some much needed stress relief, entertainment and engagement.

It’s made my stay memorable and I really liked it cause of the guitar as I love them. Thank you.

‘J’ really enjoyed the music. He joined in and enjoyed looking and learning about the different instruments. Thanks for taking his mind off being in hospital.

Your music and songs have really helped cheer my daughter ‘A’ up. Any myself too. It was great to see her smile. You have brought her happy memories back from her holiday. We were all really interested in learning about your instruments. I think you may have encouraged her to get back into her dance now. Also you have helped relax her prior to her MRI today. Thank you. She keeps humming WACKA WACKA and smiling. Thank you very much.

I enjoyed it, thanks very much. It was my first time playing the violin. I liked the sound. OPUS played very well.

‘B’ was in bed when you came in still feeling quite drowsy. Now she’s up and about feeling happy.

The music was a lovely surprise and very calming for the children. ‘J’ especially enjoyed using the instruments and making up his own music.

I have seen the musicians in our daycare ward and in outpatients. It was clear to me that the music was enjoyed by all and so very well received. I was particularly impressed to see the children participating.

It was fab, really cheered everyone up and brought everyone together.

Thank you so much. Wow, what a wonderful lift to all of our days. “We are not poorly any more” Well maybe only a little. Please continue with your wonderful music. x

It’s clear from the great feedback we are receiving that our aim of creating cultural venues within the hospital is really working, allowing children, parents and staff to share music-making together, and within communities of wards, bays and families. Thanks everybody for your feedback, including some fabulous pictures which I will try to post soon 🙂

A Good Musical Experience – Wednesday 21st Nov 2012

Nick and I began playing in the Sunflower waiting area – three children aged around 8 years of age were waiting, a little bored, and seemed eager to join in.

We sat down and played a tune for them to listen to – they gathered round immediately – Nick began to give out percussion instruments.

We turned to Gallopede (one of our favourites for facilitating participation). Each child joined in with their own rhythmical pattern with the music – Nick led them for a while and showed a slightly more complex patttern to try.

We changed the dynamics – we led – they led.

The tempo changed – with different leaders here again.

Nick tried a different style – could we slow things down and change the mood with a waltz? We played Valse vor Polle – and the children changed what they were doing and matched the style.

Finally our musical friends found our box of musical instruments and had a little session exploring some of the sounds that could be made on each of them – including trying out my violin and bow.

I felt that the interaction had been successful and complete, and thought it best to start packing the instruments away, with their help. It is always good to have a thought for when a session should finish – before anyone gets overexcited – end with positive experiences.

This felt like a really good all-round musical experience and it appeared as though the children involved had really been engaged and enjoyed it for about 20 minutes.


Reflective moment

Sarah, Rich and Nick sharing a reflective moment after a day at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital visiting medical and surgical wards, Accident and Emergency and Neonatal Intensive Care.

Chickens and Frogs

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.