Observations by Sarah Williams

Yuanfan Yang, Friday 26th July 2013, 2pm, Royal Eye Hospital

The Royal Eye Hospital was truly blessed with a breath-taking performance by the profoundly skilled, award-winning Pianist, Yuanfan Yang.

“The music is sublime, it is so therapeutic. It calms you down. If you are angry, it reduces that!” Outpatient at Manchester’s Royal Eye Hospital.

People were stopped in their tracks, dumbfounded by the beautifully evocative sounds produced by this sixteen year old. His repertoire was traditional yet innovative, with his own personality contributing to the perfect performance.

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Transfixed by the sounds, individuals gazed at the musician. One gentleman, glued to the spot in which he stood, refused to stop watching the music, even after multiple family members had beckoned him outside. Any burdensome thoughts, or issues, within that day could wait for a moment. Take a back seat.

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A lady who also seemed to be unable to make her way to the exit, passionately applauded, shaking her head with respect and appreciation for the music. Upon speaking with this woman, I soon learnt of her musical background, which was ended when the war took over. Her involvement in music went back to when her late father and late husband were alive, being keen musicians themselves.

Her passion was visible with her wide eyes and tendency to squeeze my hand whilst in conversation.  A plethora of memories were evoked for this woman and consequentially a multitude of emotion. She stated that:

“I now live alone and will be thinking of this musical experience until I go to bed tonight”

expressing the comforting nature of music and how it is able to endure beyond one space and one time to create a unique experience for each unique human being.

She went on to say:

“Honestly, this music has warmed my soul. He [the pianist] has made an old woman very happy, please tell him this. I want to hug and kiss him, but I’m sure that would embarrass him”

Along with the memories that intertwine with music, comes the altered mood state which shines through from the above quote, and the sense of closeness towards others. Music can make you happy!

Further expressing their experiences of the music, are the following quotes:

“The music is sublime, it is so therapeutic. It calms you down. If you are angry, it reduces that!”

“I am so impressed, more please, come again”

“The music is so lovely, it is cooling me.”

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The Manchester Royal Infirmary received a well-deserved injection of music

The brilliant Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher aka ‘Delhi Babies’ crafted a beautiful musical experience for those in the MRI Outpatients areas, Reception and Clinic areas last month. Monday 24th June, at 10am.

This challenging area was transformed by the wonderful music, as it flowed around the densely filled seating area, lifting the spirits of those waiting and working. The exotic beats drifted through the Manchester waiting room, taking it to far-off places.  

The music was well received from the outset. The receptionist on duty gleamed with encouraging questions after first spotting the musicians. Individuals who sat alone turned their heads towards the musicians, smiling and tapping their feet to the external stimulus. A man and woman who were sitting together began to gently sway their bodies from one side to the other, to the rhythm of the music.

Once the music had begun in the next area, patients started to nod their heads in time to the beat, whilst nurses beamed encouragingly. Again, transforming an even smaller space.

A lady praised the music, acknowledging and appreciating the inclusivity of all cultures:

“It [the music] is comforting to the soul; it makes you feel as though you are not in a hospital. It allows you to forget your pain and it also brings so many cultures together.”

As the musicians progressed to the next area, a gentleman expressed his appreciation of music in healthcare environments. Stating that it is “better than any medication”. After expressing his gratitude and explaining his daughter’s interest in playing the clarinet, he filmed the musicians play. He conveyed how the music enabled feelings of tension to disappear for him:

“Music calms the savage beast! The amount of people smiling over there, it’s great. You come in stressed, then once you hear the music it changes”

Two nurses danced together joyously, laughing as another nurse danced towards them, eagerly requesting for more music to be played. Their demeanour changed to allow enjoyment to take place within the hospital. One nurse, who thoroughly enjoyed the music, stated that she would be “happy if it took place again”.

After positive feedback from the surrounding individuals and encouragement to continue playing, Ros and Mark proceeded with an additional piece of music.

In the final waiting area, the music was truly treasured by those around. The positive feedback flowed rapidly in many forms, including an enthusiastic “thank you for this!” as people walked by to attend their appointments. Individuals voiced their gratefulness and the importance of accessing culture, which the television screens already present in the area, did not seem to provide:

“The music makes such a difference, in a place where you feel low and depressed, like this hospital, is where music is needed most”

 “It’s lovely! What we need is some culture, not that TV.”

People gathered to watch the musicians play, commenting on the difference made to the environment. A child in a pushchair was engaging well with the music. As a result of this, the interactive element of the music augmented. With the use of eye contact, smiling and recognising reactions, an interactive musical experience ensued involving the child, the musicians and the rest of the waiting room.

One lady highlighted that, in addition to the music, the way that the musicians smiled and engaged with the individuals around made her feel happy. Here, it is emphasised that connecting with others as a result of music, has an important effect upon patients.

A gentleman expressed his advocacy for music within a healthcare environment, and wrote:

“Playing music in [a]hospital environment is a necessary part of treating illness and diseases. Music calms the soul, lowers stress, pressure and anxiety. In fact I know of people who have come out of comas, recovered and became well again.” [The gentleman was then called to his appointment and rushed away]

An abundant round of applause followed the music, along with cheers and encouragement for more music to be played.

Fresh varieties of music in Manchester’s Royal Eye Hospital have been thoroughly appreciated

DJ Jomo Gaston, Pianist Peter Williams and Jazz Dancer Blu – 19/07/2013

An array of talent was delivered to the Royal Eye Hospital in the form of the DJ Jomo Gaston, Pianist Peter Williams and the Jazz Dancer, Blu.

Activating the senses, the positive beats and smooth, expressive, interactive, stylish and soulful dancing filled the space with life. The communication offered by the dancing, created an opportunity for those within the vicinity to be acknowledged and in turn for them to acknowledge another person’s captivating actions.

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“Well done, this is really great – I am supposed to be sitting in a waiting area further away, but the music really drew me in and it is great to see such enthusiasm. Seriously, well done.” Outpatient at Royal Eye Hospital

“I’ve just told my friends to come, it reminds me of New Orleans – such a great idea!” Outpatient at Royal Eye Hospital

A young toddler with two family members, made their way towards the exit. The toddler extended her arm and made a grabbing motion with her hand towards the trio of artists. This led to them returning from the exit and taking a seat to spectate and absorb the performance. Constantly smiling, clapping, reaching her arms into the air and cheering encouraging sounds, the toddler transmitted an air of joy to her family and the surrounding area.

Timothy Davidson, Gospel Piano – 22/07/2013

A seamless flow of soulful melodies formed an immersive environment for all to be involved in. The uplifting and inspirational sounds rolled naturally to build a musical soundscape. Without breaking, the music augmented to mesmerise everyone further.

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Each person kept their gaze fixed upon the musician as they entered the building. Something was thus provided to nurture people’s passionate side, external to the white walls and bleeping machines.

“I love this music so much. I was about to have an argument with somebody just now, then I heard this music and something changed. Now I am listening to this instead of arguing and I feel soothed.” Outpatient at Royal Eye Hospital

“This music really lifts you; I am staying here longer because it has made me feel better.” Outpatient at Royal Eye Hospital

“It is amazing, it is good to listen to music, thank you” Outpatient at Royal Eye Hospital

“It is lovely and soothing, thank you.” Outpatient at Royal Eye Hospital

“It is just beautiful, lovely.” Staff member at Royal Eye Hospital

Stroke Awareness Week

Patients and Staff Members brought together, to enjoy the cheerful tunes of the Charleston Charlies, from Music in Hospitals

Patients and staff were brought together to enjoy the cheerful tunes of the Charleston Charlies, from Music in Hospitals

A serenade reaching out to everybody on the Stroke Rehabilitation Ward

A serenade reaching out to everybody on the Stroke Rehabilitation Ward

Staff members connecting for a lively jig

Staff members interacting for a lively jig

Further Observations of this Summer’s Concerts by Sarah Williams

Sura Susso, Kora Player

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The atmosphere was turned into something extraordinarily magical by Sura. The Kora (a west- African harp) was played so intricately. Warmth, joy and good feeling spread, as everybody in the atrium congregated to watch the beautiful melodies. Below, is a lady’s heart-felt drawing, of how she felt about music being made in the hospital.

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I also believe that the health-giving properties of music are perfectly depicted in the picture below. Illustrating how a musical experience can bring people together and promote happiness…

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Greta -Nike Gasser and Amy Webber

Greta (pianist) and Amy (soprano) gave a wonderfully expressive contribution to the hospital.

The collaboration of these two superb individuals filled the atrium with a beautiful sense of communication. In an environment where many people are alone for an extended period of time, outpatients commented that:

“I hope you do it on a regular basis” and

“It is relaxing and takes your mind off things, I’ll come again!”

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The soft willowy features of Amy and Greta fused with the graceful sounds, which they produced. This encompassed the entire room in a collective experience, despite the numerous individual experiences also taking place.

 

Andrjez Baranek Duo

Andrjez Baranek (pianist) and Gavin Barrass (bassist) shared an uplifting jazz-filled performance with the Eye Hospital.

Toes were tapping all around. People of all ages were stopping to observe the instruments and listen to the sounds. In awe of what was before them, a trio of toddlers stopped to absorb what was taking place.

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The jazz beats allowed one to believe they were in a jazz café in the sun! Memories were evoked, along with thoughts of places other than the hospital.

 “I absolutely love it! Ever since I was young I remember loving jazz and this takes me back to then. Music like this is needed in a place like this hospital. It relaxes you, even if you don’t understand it.” Outpatient at the Royal Eye Hospital

The gentleman quoted above, hinted at music’s propensity to have an effect upon people, regardless of the varying nature of human beings. He placed emphasis on how music does not require specific knowledge to have a mutual impact upon individuals.

The sensory satisfaction of the music was highlighted by the gentleman below:

“I think it is brilliant. I’ve lost my sight in one eye and now the other eye is also deteriorating. So, this is wonderful. I’ve put off my lift by half an hour so that I can stay here and listen. It really is so therapeutic.”  Outpatient at the Royal Eye Hospital

Mark Mckenzie, pianist

Each song played by Mark McKenzie, was thoroughly uplifting. A range of well-known, heartening tunes imbued the room with a comforting musical cuddle!

The light and warmth of the day outside worked with the music to have a soothing effect. The heat of the sun and the beautiful music transmitted a feeling of ease.

“People are so uptight, worried about what will happen next and this just relaxes you so much. It is great. I hope he is here next Monday!” Outpatient at the Royal Eye Hospital

Nurses were humming along to the music as they went about their day, giving them an identity beyond one which their uniforms offered.

Martin Jacoby, pianist

Martin provided a lovely escape from the pitter-pattering of rain against the windows. On an otherwise gloomy day, he managed to provide a ray of light.

“It is like a breath of fresh air, it takes your mind off things, I love music” Outpatient.

 

 Liam Curtain’s beautiful selection of sounds brought some light into the room.

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“I’ve never known of it before, it is very enlightening. I am waiting for the ambulance to pick me up and I don’t want them to come and spoil it!”  Patient at the Royal Eye Hospital

Robin Sunflower and Daniel Blomely

Robin sunflower, along with the excellent Daniel Blomeley, majestically utilised harmonicas of a range of sizes, as you can hopefully see from the picture below! People gathered around to enjoy the cheerful sounds.

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 “I’ve really enjoyed the music. I’m really impressed about the choice of music and instrument. Very soothing and comfortable. Blends well with the acoustics in the environment. I guess more needs to be done in this area.” Outpatient in St. Mary’s Hospital