Remembering a moment through music

Posted on April 7, 2016 by Jeannie Travell, Senior Customer Advisor

AU JeannieJeannie Travell (pictured right), Senior Customer Advisor, tells us about her recent visit to see one of the charities we support in action.

Recently I was invited, along with our Finance Director, Ben Kent (pictured below), to attend a concert organised by Music in Hospitals and I jumped at the chance!

Music in Hospitals is a UK based charity which aims to improve the lives of adults and children with a range of illnesses and disabilities through professionally performed live music in hospitals, hospices, day care centres, special schools and nursing and residential homes.

Simplyhealth has been supporting Music in Hospitals over the past couple of years to help fund these performances. Research shows that music, especially live music, can play a large role in improving the daily lives of older people in care.

We went to Millway House residential home, where we met up with Steve Rowland-Jones, the Chief Executive of Music in Hospitals.

The initial mood in the room was quiet, and a little tense. Even after all of the research I had done previously about the charity, I wasn't sure what to expect.

The musicians set up: a talented vocalist, Wendy Stiles, and an equally talented pianist, Caroline Clipsham.  Wendy and Caroline performed a variety of songs taken from the 20th Century, and you could see memories being revived throughout the room.

With the first song that Wendy sang, I looked around and noticed smiles beginning to appear on resident's faces, and the subtle tapping of feet to the music.

It was also during this first song, where a resident with late stage dementia began to sing along with Wendy. One of the nurses was brought to tears, as she had said this resident had not reacted in such a way for a very long time.

AU BEN MIHThe entire concert was truly heart-warming. The mood in the room completely transformed, and you could see the difference that it made to the residents, staff, and musicians.

Wendy made her way around the room, and managed to focus on individuals and engage with them, as well as continuously perform to the entire room.

As someone who had no link to any of the residents, I couldn't begin to imagine how it would feel to see a loved one open up the way that many of the residents did.

I stood watching, and I was trying to imagine what the residents might be feeling and thinking. It is sometimes hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes, but towards the end of the concert, Wendy sang a song called 'Bright Eyes' from the film Watership Down. After about a minute, something inside me clicked, and I remembered sitting with my Dad when I was little and watching a magical film about rabbits. Now I must have watched this once or twice, when I was really young. My memory is bad at the best of times, and I know that without this moment, I may never have remembered this specific moment with my Dad.

I cannot compare how I felt at that moment to how the residents felt, but it did help me understand the power of music in memory and emotion.

Click here to watch a video about the work of Music in Hospitals. Steve Rowland-Jones also gave me this message to share:

"Music in Hospitals has been delivering live music concerts to vulnerable adults and children in healthcare since 1948.  However, it is a genuine pleasure to have established a partnership with Simplyhealth which helps us to bring additional performances that otherwise we would be unable to put on.  It was great to see Ben and Jeannie at this concert in Weyhill; they will have seen just what sort of impact live music can have and I hope this helps to ensure our partnership to flourish over the years to come, improving the health and wellbeing of those in care."

I would like to thank Steve, the musicians and Millway House residential home for inviting Ben and I to witness this concert. It was an experience that I will treasure for years to come, and has made me proud to work for a company that plays such a big role in charities like Music in Hospitals.