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The morning’s Healthcare Musician practice had joys that ranged from the first smile of a very young baby in the Neonatal Unit to the last song of an older person’s life.

As I take a few moments to reflect upon what it means to be back in hospitals making music, I am once again overwhelmed by the human connection and depth of emotion tapped into by musical interactions in person.

As OPUS musicians, we profoundly felt the frustrations of not being able to be involved and to be present within the spaces at all for the last three years. It has taken such a lot to come back to work, and we are so delighted to be doing it once again. As the crisis of COVID-19 slips a little more into the past, we now find ourselves as Healthcare Musicians able to bring something of connective humanity into these difficult and delicate spaces once more.

We took our time in choosing the right moment and piece of music for the new family in the NICU. Twinkle Twinkle was chosen. The parents videoed their little one as they seemed to be sleeping. Then, just gradually, the first little smile appeared across their face. Then once and twice more before the final verse was sung. How special it was as Dad went back through the video and froze the frame where he saw his little one smile for the very first time. How wonderful to play this intimate role in helping to make memories for this family from such an early age.

For the older person we met later that same morning, it seemed hard to choose the piece to play to begin with. What would have the right content for this human being who had lived a long full life and was nearing the end of the journey? Having spoken with the relative, who had enthusiastically beckoned us in, we settled on Diamond Day – a lovely gentle piece including elements of descriptors of the countryside, the horses passing, the crops growing, and the people that you meet as you go through life. We were then told that they had owned a cart horse when very young and had often spoken about this. We had, fortunately, picked something truly connective and meaningful for this family experience.

Another older patient videoed us playing and singing Edelweiss all through. At the end they said “Aw, that was romantic! We do need a bit of that right now, don’t we?!” I think I know just what they meant…

It is important to reflect that these in person experiences are potentially powerful and meaningful for both the patients AND the Healthcare Musician. It is part our chosen professional musical world, and for the last three years there has been a definite void…

– Sarah Matthews