A Songbird’s Tale: “One…two…three…hop!” A story for families inspired by Musicians’ Residency

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” Nothing stays the same forever. That is the magic of things” (Vathys Libelulla, the dragonfly)

A Songbird’s Tale tells the story of young bird Brambling Rose, who, after being seriously hurt in a collision with a glass windowpane finds his way home to an independent life, helped by a series of kindly creatures encountered on his journey of recovery.

” I can’t see very well. Where am I ?” (Brambling Rose, the songbird)

Written and composed by LIME Music for Health Specialist Mark Fisher, A Songbird’s Tale is inspired by his experiences working on a two year music residency with fellow musician Ros Hawley and the children, families and staff they met on wards 83, 78 and HDU. The project is funded by Youth Music.

Brambling’s story is an imaginative tale, travelling through a series of mini worlds of nature where he meets the animals who help him to find his way back to his nest. At times Brambling finds himself on his own and he has to use his own will and resilience to travel on further. Brambling’s experiences in the story not only help him to get better, they give him the courage to be independent and free.

” You must take the path home. Once there you will be as strong as you ever were”  (Madame Caladria, the snowy egret)

Colourful Birds, a dragonfly, a hornet, a terrapin, honeybees and an angel fish are all characters he meets along the way; each has a role in helping Brambling to help himself and find his way back to his nest, in the tree in the garden from where he first flew.

” I’m Perry Starey man, carrier pigeon to the stars…I’ve got a message for you!” (Perry Starey, the pigeon)

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Brambling’s journey mirrors the pathway to recovery that many of the children from these wards have experienced, and is a reminder to all of us of the journeys we make and the stages we go through in finding our way in life.

” I know you can, you just have to have faith in yourself” (Vathys Libelulla, the dragonfly)

Mark explains how he created Brambling’s story:

“The idea just came to mind while working on the project. I was reminded of the plight of birds when they hit a solid object, like a window – an obstacle that is invisible to them. Comments made by consultant Dr. Grace Vassalo, in an interview given for our project, made me think about the children and their family’s journey when their world is turned upside down by illness, and they find themselves in hospital. An analogy was created in my mind between the impact on the bird of hitting the pane of glass and the sudden occurrence of illness that can happen to children that we have met. Some birds do get up and recover after a time and this made me think of the story.”

All of the characters are based on living creatures; some of the characters take their names from their real names in nature, other character’s names are inspired by mythological creatures.

LIST OF CHARACTERS (in order of appearance):

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Vathys Libelulla – A Dragonfly
Brambling Rose – An Injured Bird
Dr. Bird – A Hummingbird
Hornette Coleman – A Hornet
Dr. Smew – A Duck
Nurse Amelia – An Angelfish *
Terry Pinn – A Terrapin
Morris – A Mynah Bird
Billy McCaw – A Macaw
Soup – A Superb Bird of Paradise
Maggie – A Magnificent Bird of Paradise
Madame Caladria – A Snowy Egret *
Mister B – A Bee

* voiced by Sue Wolmersley, all other characters voiced by Mark Fisher.

As part of our final celebrations of the Songbirds project, all the children and families who have worked with Mark and Ros will receive a recording of A Songbird’s Tale and Songbirds music as part of two special end of project events to be held on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th September at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

The Songbirds CD, as well as featuring Brambling’s story, will feature full versions of music used in the story. The music will be familiar to the children as it has been both inspired by and specially composed for them as part of the project, and used by the musicians on the wards during their weekly sessions.

Click on the link below to listen to A Songbird’s Tale: 

The children and families will also receive specially designed Songbird postcards along with percussion instruments similar to those used with Mark and Ros on the wards to take home and use with their families, all of which will be presented in a special bag. A Songbirds logo will be created by LIME artist Kim Thompson, inspired by magical birds created by the children and staff in sessions with Play Specialist John Smith.

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Fellow musician Ros says:

“The project has been an incredible experience. We have learnt so much from all the children, families and staff who have welcomed us into their world at the hospital. It has been a privilege to be able to offer music as an element of rehabilitation for these children, and to see how music and musicians can play a part in a child’s progression towards going home.

Although our Songbird’s project will be finishing this autumn, we will be seeking further funding and sponsorship to turn A Songbird’s Tale into a children’s book, audio book and play for children in hospital, with the aim of performing and touring it at children’s hospitals around the UK.

Anyone interested in supporting us in developing our idea can leave a message here for Mark and Ros so we can contact you, or we can be contacted directly through our website http://www.rosfishmusic.com.”

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