Catching Up :: Making Music For Health

Music Leader South West ran a training day in June entitled Making Music For Health. The purpose of the day was to get together with musicians and others working in the field of arts and health, and to discuss our experiences, and to explore opportunities for music-making in health-care settings. Although it was specifically for musicians in Gloucestershire, I thought I would hop over the border to find out more.

Some key aspects of the day:

  • Gathering Voices, a Bristol-based organisation that works with young people, focussing on singing and percussion from around the world, did an energising warm-up using a simple approach to rhythm and voices.
  • Prof. Norma Daykin of University of West of England gave a brief explanation of Why Music in Hospitals? Key points included the research finding that there is the strongest evidence for beneficial effects of music on health, over the effects of other art-forms; live music is known to reduce anxiety, heart rate, pulse rate, and reduce levels of stress hormone cortisol, and is therefore a useful additional treatment in pre- and post-surgical wards. She also emphasised that using the arts in healthcare not only has an effect on the patients, but also on the staff and on the wider organisation.
  • Kathryn from Arts in Trust described the work they do taking musicians into wards in Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucester Royal Hospital. She described how difficult it was to recruit musicians, as working in a ward can be very difficult and scary if you don’t know what to expect. We later heard from Peter Gill, a pianist who plays in hospitals for Arts in Trust. He described playing in a hospital ward as “playing within a scenario, not competing with it”.
  • Jacqui of Music Leader South West described an example of good practice, where musicians played in the waiting room of a paediatric consultant. The parents and children were awaiting, often, scary diagnoses, and the presence of a musician helped the child and the parents feel more relaxed, which, the paediatrician reported, made them much easier to communicate with.

It was such a worth-while event to attend, and particularly enjoyable as a large part of the afternoon was devoted to singing and drumming.

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