Manchester Medical Students Making Music: “Music is a universal way to express yourself and can only, in my opinion, enhance healthcare.”

“It has made me more aware of how a rounded approach to medical care can affect a patient’s experience.”

Richard PEP 2015

10 medical students from The University of Manchester Medical School have just completed a 4 week placement with the team at LIME Music for Health. Their course, the Personal Excellence Pathway (PEP) in Narrative Writing, Music and Art, aims to open up the opportunity for creative responses to the clinical setting: to observe, reflect and respond to the hospital environment and medical training through spoken word, music, song, art and creative technology. As part of the PEP the students have spent time working alongside Ros and Mark and the team on the wards at The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and participating in music sessions with children and families on the wards. It has been great to see the students finding their place within the music team – here’s what they told us abut their experence:

” [The hospital] doesn’t have to be a purely clinical space; using music can transform the atmosphere and shift the power balance towards patients who are contributing to and directing the music.”

“I felt more ‘life’ in the hospital with music..we learnt to observe children’s needs, listening to them
before talking to them.”

” I have seen how valuable music can be in soothing, relaxing and lifting the spirits of patients, their families and staff members.”

Students have produced a range of creative documents in response to their placements – these have included a creative music app to enable patients to make music when the musicians are not with them, a leaflet informed by parent and patient experience telling families about the work of LIME Music for Health and a lullaby for children in hospital.

Seeing the clinical setting from a new perspective has given students the opportunity to reflect on their own ambitions for the future, as summed up candidly here by one of the students:

It has emphasised the importance of holistic therapy, the role that hospitals should play in treating the person and not the illness. It’s difficult in hospital to find time to do this all the time, but an awareness will only make me a better doctor.”

A Week of Musical Wonders… The Manchester Eye Hospital lunchtime concerts continue to delight…

Margaret Knight, harpist, has been sharing her music in hospitals for the last twenty five years for the benefit of patients, their families and hospital staff.  We managed to book her for a lunchtime concert in the Eye Hospital during one of her bi-annual tours of the North of England for Music in Hospitals.   In addition to her orchestral harp, she is always accompanied by her little harp that people are invited to ‘have a go on.’  She brought a gentle but uplifting atmosphere to the atrium and had virtually the whole room listening to her – people put down their phones and newspapers and seemed almost hypnotised.

The Monday performance featured The Robin Sunflower Duo and they certainly brought sunshine to the atrium, with their bluesy, jazzy vibes.  A gentleman being treated for leukaemia was waiting for his prescription with his wife:  “The music is a good idea.   I come in to the hospital twice a week and am really enjoying it (the music).  It breaks up the day.  Better than sitting, brooding on your problems.  We always sit here and have our butties whilst we’re waiting.  This is good!”

A woman waiting in clinic with a young child: “It makes you feel like you’re not in a hospital!”

Cupid’s Bow Cello Duo were the guest performers  on Wednesday.  It was quite a busy day, with much to-ing and fro-ing in the atrium.   A gentleman sitting very close to the music was smiling broadly throughout the performance.  “This is the first time I’ve seen a cello played live.  It’s absolutely brilliant!  Red hot!”   I noticed a gentleman who was standing listening with a young child in his arms.   He was waiting for his wife to finish her appointment.   “The music is a really, really good idea.  Rather than having a boring wait or just music in the background, this is fantastic having it live – the interaction is great.  My daughter – I couldn’t keep her happy with the long wait.  As soon as the music started, I couldn’t keep her away.  She’s entranced.”

A woman was passing with two young children.  The children stopped, started smiling and sat down next to the duo to listen.  When their mum called them away, the girl whispered a shy “Thank you” as she left.

Stringboxes, a kora and double bass twosome,  have been the perfect finale to the week.   Their African/Jazz/Gypsy fusion always goes down well in the atrium and they are becoming firm favourites.  We are noticing that people are coming back specifically for the concerts  – and today was no exception.  There was clapping, dancing and much jollity to be had!   Stringboxes will be back in two weeks time to share more of their unique musical blend.

We continue our eclectic mix of performers next week with pianist John Ellis, swing trio The Charleston Charlies and sitar player, John Lancaster.