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Making Music at St George's Hospital

31st January 2019

Making Music is a three year programme funded by the Lord Leonard and Lady Estelle Wolfson Foundation. Their generous support allows musicians and performers to visit the children’s play areas and wards to lead music sessions that offer children the experience of social interaction, singing, learning, movement, and most importantly enjoyment.

Children receiving treatment at St George’s Hospital can often become very nervous from staying in an unfamiliar place for a long period of time, and can be worried about the painful procedures they may have to undergo. Making Music is an amazing way of helping children to cope with their experiences, providing them with some time and distraction to take their mind off the trials of hospital. The sessions can also benefit the parents of the children in hospital, allowing them to spend time with their child outside of a ward environment, and see their child enjoying themselves.

St George’s are fortunate enough to have a selection of musicians who lead each Making Music session, playing instruments such as the flute, harp and guitar. Catherine Bownes is one of our very talented musicians who plays the hang. This is an unusual percussion instrument made of two steel half shells glued together. The sound of this unique instrument is very similar to that of the harp, and so creates a very calming atmosphere for the children.

Catherine is very passionate about combining music and health, and has recently returned from Uganda, where she taught various breathing techniques and diaphragm exercises to individuals with respiratory problems.

Before her Making Music session, Catherine kindly took the time to answer some questions about music at St George’s Hospital.


What would you say are the benefits of Making Music?

     “There are many benefits, not just for the children. It also offers respite for the parents, even if it is just temporarily. Both the children and their parents become immersed in the melancholy sound of the instrument, almost allowing them that extra time to breathe. It can be very refreshing.”


Have you personally seen changes in a child’s behaviour during a session?

     “If a child is in pain, it distracts them and allows them to focus on something else. You could say it sort of captivates them and lifts them out of their pain. I have also noticed that their heart rate lowers when they are totally absorbed in the music, further highlighting the calming effect music can have.”


What is your favourite part of Making Music?  

     “Bringing people joy and giving them respite and a break from their hospital surroundings. I love how the music makes people smile and think of something else other than their pain or what they are going through.”


With the current funding, Making Music takes place every other week, however, this funding won’t last forever. Additional donations will allow for musicians to visit the paediatric wards more often, bringing further joy and respite to those in the wards.

To make a donation and support this important work, please visit: https://www.stgeorgeshospitalcharity.org.uk/donate/single-donation?fund=18 

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