Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham (Children’s)

Charity Single: This Won’t Last Long

We’re delighted to launch our new charity song ‘This Won’t Last Long’, a song of hope and strength for our friends and colleagues in the NHS.

It has been written, recorded and produced in isolation whilst staying at home to help protect, and in celebration of, our NHS.

We’re happy to offer a free download of this song at our Bandcamp page.

If you like what you hear, then please support the work of the amazing Hospital Charities in Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sherwood Forest Hospitals at our Justgiving page.

Thank you!

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.



Music in Healthcare Settings Apprenticeships: 2015-2016

Many thanks for the many applications we received.
We look forward to announcing our new Apprentices for 2015/16 soon.

We are delighted to launch the second year of our Music in Healthcare Settings Apprenticeship programme.

From September 2015 to June/July 2016, 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 Friday 5th June 2015 with interview/auditions to be held in Derby on Friday 12th June, Monday 15th June or Tuesday 16th June 2015.


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


Continued music-making residencies in children’s hospitals

We are delighted to be able to continue, and expand our existing relationships with Derbyshire, Leicester, Nottingham and Kings Mill Children’s Hospitals with support from Youth Music and from our local and hospital partners.

This support means that OPUS musicians will now visit each hospital on a weekly basis until April 2016, making music for and with the patients, their families and staff.

Our recent evaluation and documentation work has demonstrated the highly valued impacts of this practice; we are incredibly grateful for the support of all our partners in enabling this work to continue.

youth music full logo

Music in Healthcare Settings Apprenticeships: 2014-2015

We are delighted to launch our brand new Music in Healthcare Settings Apprenticeship programme.

From September 2014 to July 2015, 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 Friday 6th June 2014 with interview/auditions to be held in Derby on Monday 16th June 2014.
This programme is made possible with the support of public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.


FREE Training Opportunity: Music in Healthcare Settings, 29 May to 4 June 2014

nottm music hub logoTRAINING COURSE NOW FULL – to be informed about future training opportunities, please email training@opusmusic.org to request to be added to our mailing list.

OPUS Music CIC, in partnership with Nottingham Music Hub, is offering a five-day training programme for musicians working in, or interested in working in healthcare settings.

The course will take place over five days (including two half-days of music-making at Nottingham Children’s Hospital). These will take place from 9.30am to 3.30pm on 29, 30 May and 2, 3 and 4 June 2014.
The training will consist of theoretical knowledge acquisition, group and individual musical work and practical work in the field (musical actions in healthcare settings for hospitalised patients)
Whilst this training will focus primarily on working with hospitalised children and young people, the theoretical background and practice will also be of benefit to those who wish to work with other age groups and in other healthcare settings.

This course is offered FREE OF CHARGE due to the support of Nottingham Music Hub in partnership with the National Foundation for Youth Music and the Department for Education.

Full details here (pdf): Music in Healthcare Training opportunity Artists Brief
Application form (word): Application Form
Application form (pdf): Application Form
Some of the feedback from trainees on our previous courses:

‘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.’

‘This course is really is a must for any musician who wishes to work in healthcare settings. The course leaders are lovely to work with and obviously are very passionate and knowledgeable about their vocation. It’s a massive learning curve, and you must approach it with an open mind and willingness to learn, but you get a lot of support in a really welcoming and friendly environment. I’ve come away feeling inspired and challenged and informed and able to use all I’ve learnt in my own practice straightaway. It is also amazingly good value for money!’

‘Professional, personally and as a musician, this has been absolutely the best course I’ve ever been on. It’s been a fantastic privilege working with a supportive group of musicians, superb facilitation from the course team and a great mix of theory and practice which has equipped me to start my journey into working in healthcare settings.’

‘A fantastic week for those who are interested in learning more about music in a healthcare setting, expanding their repertoire, developing skills in improvising and meeting some truly lovely people!’

‘This course is an excellent introduction and grounding in the professional practice of music in healthcare. It is presented with great professionalism and expertise.’

‘This will test and stretch the way you think about delivering any kind of music intervention. I’d recommend you have previously at least practised this in some way so that you can self-examine and reflect. 100% professional programme in content and delivery. Complements all other training I’ve done and widened my horizons.’

‘Bring an open mind, and be prepared to learn and share.’

‘The course gives an exciting insight into what music in healthcare is like, which can really open your eyes to something new, I know it did for me. There is the chance to experiment with music within a comfortable, relaxed setting, which as a person who hates improvising I found completely stress free and fun. As well as this you learn so many transferable skills for jobs including music and for everyday life which makes the course really worth while.’

Nottingham Children’s Hospital Mentoring – Final Thoughts

Angela Kang:

Angela Kang 2 b&w

What does a hospital musician do? This was a question asked at the beginning of working with Opus Music CIC. It was a question that seemed straightforward and simple to answer. Truth be told, one cannot fully understand and appreciate the many diverse aspects of this role without actually physically being in the hospital wards, taking part in the music making, or watching first-hand. Reading a scholarly article, training manual, or a blog entry can only give you an impression of what might take place. The positive benefits of music in healthcare settings are well-documented. Watching a video is perhaps the closest you can get to understanding without being there, but it still cannot fully convey the emotional and multi-sensory experience of delivering and receiving music in a busy hospital ward. Explaining to others the work you do never seems to do justice to the magic that actually takes place. One thing is clear: a hospital musician needs to be empathic, understanding, creative, and able to adapt their approach to a range of medical situations. With these skills, an array of exciting possibilities can be explored to engage patients, visitors and staff in music-making and create open spaces for cultural exchange. Bringing music into healthcare settings is always personalised and uniquely directed towards the particular mood and setting of a ward, group, or individual – that is why it can be difficult to explain. As Plato writes “rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul.” Music is a form of communication that is far more powerful than words, far more immediate, and can be far more effective.


Joe Danks:

joe danks b&wOver the last 4 months I have been participating in a training programme delivered by Opus Music. The programme mostly involved me delivering musical interventions at the Queens Medical Centre, but also involved a day spent talking about our experience as mentees. It is with great sadness that I wave goodbye to what has become a part of my routine, and a part that I looked forward to each week. I would like to thank Opus for the high quality training I have received, and recognise the patient and gentle nature of the musicians I have worked with. I would also like to express what a joy it has been to spend time in the hospital school with the selfless hospital staff and teachers; the hospitality from everybody at the QMC Education Base has been wonderful.

I said in my first blog post that the real treasure in this work lay in the young people that we met on a day to day basis, and I am even more convinced of that after 10 weeks than I was after 3. The sheer diversity of character displayed throughout Nottingham Children’s Hospital is constantly astounding, and the positivity reflected back to us as musicians is immensely rewarding. The positive effects of music are very clear to me, and I have experienced its wide ranging benefits on a regular basis all the way through my life and I feel like the mentoring process has allowed me share a little bit of this with people when they need it the most, and that’s been really fantastic. I think its important also to recognise not only the social and psychological benefits but the educational benefits of this work. I’ve spent a lot of time talking about my instruments (Guitar, Ukulele, Percussion) to young people and parents, and I feel like people have really learnt about music as well as participating in playing it.

Music In Healthcare has gradually become a part of my life, and I am striving to make it a part of my future plans. I am hoping to visit projects across Europe, and hopefully engage in some music making with those projects. I have been instilled with a passion for the importance of this work and I intend to continue with it for many years to come. Huge thanks again to Opus, Hospital School and also to Angela Kang who has been my fellow mentee during the process. Its been a pleasure working with all parties.

Nottingham Children’s Hospital Mentoring Reflections – Angela Kang

Angela Kang 2 b&w

Knowing what type of music will enhance the psychological and physical wellbeing of patients relies on empathy and intuition. There are two things that are always necessary for this type of work – appropriateness of musician, and the appropriateness of musical selections. Empathy (personal and musical) is of great importance. First and foremost, a hospital musician needs to survey the situation, and identify whether a patient would be happy to listen to or engage with music. In some cases, this can be quite obvious (a smile, a curious stare, parents directing attention of the children, a willingness to engage in conversation). For example, the other day a hospital teacher informed us that a teenage girl was struggling to complete a piano composition for her school exams, and would be delighted to meet Opus musicians for some inspiration. We created the opportunity for the young girl to develop her ideas, and encouraged her to feel confident in improvising as together we instigated a medley of improvised musical waltzes. Although focused on one patient, it was clear that others on the ward were happily watching.


In other cases, whether a patient is open to listen to or engage with music is much less obvious. In this situation, a gentle and tentative approach is best. It might also be appropriate to ask if they would like to hear a song – giving the option to a child patient (who often does not have choices concerning medical interventions) can perhaps be liberating. For example, the other day, a young child looking a little unhappy and fatigued was cuddling up to her mother in the corner of a ward. Her mother was clearly delighted to see musicians coming over to pay special attention to her little one, and this enthusiasm from mother triggered a little smile from the fatigued girl. We gently played ‘Yellow Bird’ as they happily watched, midway handing over a shaker to the little girl who (despite her tiredness) wanted to join in. At some point, her curiosity about the accordion led her to ask about it, and we let her press a few keys – which perhaps made the connection a little more personal. After this, realising she probably might want to rest, one of us asked if she would like some more music, or if she had enough for that day. She chose to rest, and looked happy as we gently said “thank you for playing, and goodbye”. Knowing how and when to end a musical interaction requires a good sense of empathy and intuition.


We have a range of musical pieces that we can play and improvise with. Sometimes a well-known and catchy song might be in order. However, sometimes, a well-known piece can evolve into a new and totally improvised piece of music – which can be equally effective and appropriate. According to Vescelius, “discrimination in the choice of music is essential; in ill- health one does not enjoy a musical banquet but a musical specific” (Vescelius, 1918).


Nottingham Children’s Hospital Mentoring Reflections – Joe Danks

joe danks b&w

There are lots of skills required for this work, and as I come to the end of ten weeks training I realise there has been a huge amount of progression in all areas. I also understand now probably more than ever that there is a long way to go and even were I to train for ten years there would still be situations and interactions that would surprise me, and situations I could learn from. This has been demonstrated throughout the process, with new challenges presented every week. I think this is best described as a non-linear learning experience, as some weeks you feel like you really feel like you have made progression and some weeks you feel like you are back to square one. The diversity of challenges is equally reflected in the diversity of reward, and there is a new joy to be found every time you meet someone new.

There are lots of musical skills that I have found to be invaluable in this process, I must say most of these have come from my experience in the folk tradition. I would like to focus on watching as a purely musical discipline. Whilst watching the young people, parents and staff is of paramount importance, I am focusing on the way we as musicians watch each other. In my opinion the way in which we watch each other is closest in style to the way that I would watch fellow musicians at a folk session. The music works in a very democratic way, far from the dictatorship of a classical conductor. This is intrinsic to the way we work, but it does bring its own obstacles. It certain situations it is necessary to communicate a vast amount of information in a very short amount of time. This usually takes the form of simple eye contact; I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated my eyebrows quite so much! There is also a lot of information communicated with body language. Little ducks down to designate volume or hand signals to gesture to drop to just voices for example. I’ve done an awful lot of discreet pointing. For this to work, is it crucial to have a good musical rapport with your colleagues. I think this comes from experience playing together, and experience playing in a hospital context. Knowing how each musician plays is really important as there is no set structure and the form is very loose. You need to be able to follow each other. This is something that you develop from getting stuck in and doing, and a skill I feel like I possessed before, but one that has developed hugely through my mentoring.

Spatial awareness is crucial to the success of this work, and takes 2 different forms. You need not only to be aware of your physical position in the space, but also your sonic position. There is a real difference between playing to a space and playing to an individual. Sometimes it seems appropriate to play for a whole bay from the adjacent corridor as opposed to entering the space to interact. Sometimes this is a doorway into interactions but often it is deemed more beneficial to simply play for a few minutes and move on from the space. Receiving music passively is often all that a patient can engage with, and this is a good way to provide stimulation without being overbearing. Conversely, the work that we do often requires us to get extremely close to patients. This requires a great deal of tactfulness and awareness. Moving towards a bed is very easy to get wrong. Awareness of your own size, and your instrument’s shape and appearance is very important; otherwise you run the risk of coming across as something to be feared. Learning to show your openness with your body is important. As hospital musicians we often joke about working in the hospital being a great workout, but it is very true. A huge majority of interactions happen whilst I’m on my knees or squatted next to a bed. Putting yourself below a patient can transfer control to them. It is also important as it helps you present your instrument. Feeling the sound is very different to just listening to it. I remember very clearly an occasion where my colleague Angela had a young man in a wheelchair simply holding the two halves of the accordion whilst she gently worked the bellows. He could feel and hear the air rushing through the accordion and it was having a huge impact on him, it was really wonderful to watch.

Whilst your position in a space is a tool, it is also something to be careful of. Angela and I have joked about being like the ‘Men In Black’ in a space, but it is a really useful comparison! We often enter a space back to back and face one half of the ward each. This allows us to see everything that is happening whilst we play, allowing us to mitigate any negative effects of the sound we are creating. Another way of doing this is to have one musician dedicated to observing the wider space and not engaging one to one with patients. The wandering musician in the middle of the bay acts as a lookout, and watches for anything that we might need to be made aware of. This becomes much trickier when all the musicians are engaged with patients, and this is why it is helpful to have 3 musicians in the hospital at any one time. We need to be careful of our position in a space, but when used well our body language and positioning are some of the most powerful tools we have.