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.
Over 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.