Music Making with Young Patients: Introducing Arts to Healthcare

In April, we commenced this year’s monthly ArtsAdventures visits to children’s hospices, hospitals and respite centres, partnering with nine venues in Basingstoke, London, Oxford and Reading. Between April and June, ArtsAdventures will have taken a creative music and visual art workshop to each venue each month, bringing respite to young patients, family members and carers.

The sessions so far have seen the participants fashioning their own percussive instruments using a variety of materials before customising these with designs with our artist Daniel Lehan’s creative guidance. Working alongside Clare Hoskins and Jez Wiles, our musicians, the young patients have taken their original instruments into a collaborative context, exploring their collective sound palette and experimenting with rhythm and texture. This has enabled them to channel creative expression and interact with one another.

Producing art collaboratively enables personal and social connection. 40% of 19,000 children in hospital reported having no activities or opportunities to play, making the risk of isolation and lack of stimulation considerable. ArtsAdventures gives children and their families the opportunity to have fun, get creative and develop personal relationships.

img_6409

As Arts Council England (2014) research evidences, higher frequency of engagement with arts and culture is generally associated with a higher level of subjective wellbeing and improved cognitive ability. The benefits of incorporating the arts within healthcare can include decreasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and play a role in helping to humanise alien environments. ArtsAdventures tailors each creative session to the needs of both patients and healthcare staff, with workshops providing a  complementary approach to an existing caring model. 

Back in February, we spoke to a parent whose child took part in ArtsAdventures whilst being treated in The Royal Berkshire Hospital. The music and storytelling workshops offered a moment away from the stresses of treatment:

The session today was so fun. We weren’t expecting it. Just before the music started, he had been for a scan so he wasn’t in the best of moods but I could see that he really started enjoying it. Having the arts in hospitals helps people forget about the pain and enables them to enjoy themselves. When you take part in something like this, you can forget about everything. You can just play and have fun. I have been in hospital a few times with my son when he was younger and it wasn’t like this, so it has been really good today. I think when he’s in hospital he misses home and being able to play with his toys.”

We’ve been returning to our ArtsAdventures venues this month for more sessions with the young patients, their families, and carers.

Read ‘Music and Hospitals: A Life-Enhancing Combination’, Create CEO Nicky Goulder’s feature for The Huffington Post discussing the benefits of music in healthcare, here.