Early Years Music in Hospitals: A visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital by Linda Bance.

We were joined by Specialist in Early Years Music Education, Linda Bance for an afternoon at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Linda is mentoring us as part of the LEYMN Early Years Apprenticeship with Sound Connections. This is proving a great opportunity to develop our work with this age group. We have already discovered so many great songs, methods and ideas that we can adapt to our work making music on hospital wards.

Here is Linda's blog on her observations.

Thanks Linda for your thoughtful insights on working with young children and babies, your encouragement and your positivity!

My visit to GOSH with David and Joe.

I made a visit to observe Pulse Arts at work with the patients of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Upon my arrival, I was met by David and Joe. Once we had cleaned the instruments we made our way on to the many wards that make up the children’s hospital.  I know from experience that it is not easy to just turn up as the music person and play music.  You are never sure about the response you will get. David and Joe were very aware of this and thought deeply about their approach before each visit. We met enthusiastic children and parents who wanted to know about the music. They benefited from the beautiful songs that were sung. They joined in singing and improvised on both tuned and untuned percussion. The response from parents, staff and children was positive and heartening. Songs were sung in many languages, styles and each seemed to match the situation perfectly.

The highlight of the afternoon for me was when David suggested that we go to a ward where he could hear crying. We arrived to find a small child of about 4 years old very poorly. The mood in the room was fraught. Father stroking the child’s legs frantically while the mother strokes the child’s head trying to stop the crying. They looked so worried. It was surely a normal thing that the parents just wanted their children to feel better. David and Joe stood on the edge of this scene. They began to play quietly, rhythmically and sensitively. To begin with it seemed wrong to be contributing to the noise and stress of the moment but then something magical happened. The father and mother both began to calm their stroking to match the pulse of the music. Things calmed, the little one stopped crying and the staff came to monitor the situation.  I was overwhelmed by this scene. Could music really have done this? It allowed the parents almost subconsciously to use the movement of the music to aid the situation. They were smiling again. What a wonderful afternoon I had shadowing these two sensitive and expert musicians.

It is worth saying that the work associated with music in the early years is most appropriate in this setting, they are certainly working with families living with challenging circumstances. This work is crucial to wellbeing and I am hopeful that they will be able to make a presentation of their work at the LEYMN Conference on March 6th.

Linda Bance

Special thanks goes to Caroline Moore at GOSH Arts for ensuring Linda could join us on wards and for hosting Linda so well on the day.