Heart Strings on Ward 76

Megan Collis and Polly Virr, our Fledgling musicians have recently completed a residency on Ward 76 and have written about their experiences and one particular magical moment with Baby B.

During the final afternoon of our Fledglings Residency we once again shared some wonderful musical interactions with patients and their families. Being a Friday afternoon, the ward was particularly quiet as the majority of patients and families had been waiting for several hours. After spending 45 minutes or so playing music in each of the bays, Polly and I decided to go into the pre-op waiting area where there were many chairs and tables being occupied by families (several of whom were asleep!). Bearing this in mind, we thought it would be suitable to keep the music rather gentle and soothing.

We approached Baby B who was only a few months old and being held in a relative’s arms. Both her and his mother smiled and nodded as we asked whether they would like to hear some gentle music. I began to play an instrumental version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the relative lifted up Baby B so he could see the cello and violin more clearly. His eyes were transfixed on the instruments and he began to blow bubbles through his mouth, which his relative said he does when he’s calm or happy. Whenever the music would ascend in pitch, his eyebrows would raise and his mouth open slightly and he was so calm when listening to the music.

As we developed the piece, we went into playing the traditional folk song Baloo Baleerie which made him smile. We repeated the verse part of the song two times before going into the chorus. As the harmony changed and the melody went up (the highest we had played) Baby B began to momentarily cry, but not for being sad. He was so invested in every note of the piece, that he expressed each phrase in his facial expressions and pitch of voice. As soon as the harmony resolved and he knew the melody, he smiled and each time it was repeated, his smiled widened. After a short while, he became increasingly sleepy, so we kindly thanked his relatives and slowly left.

It was such a special interaction to be part of and highlights the ever increasing sense of purpose and benefit that live music in hospitals carries. Throughout each session of my residency, I was continuously encouraged and fulfilled; not only as a musician, but in how willing the patients, families and staff members were to share the music.

We had the privilege of playing to many families during one of the most difficult times in their lives and their responses were always of gratitude. We noticed more times than not, a sense of relief and serenity that came from playing music with patients, families and staff and we will be forever grateful for getting to share those experiences with them at the RMCH.

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