'It changes the weather on the ward': Orchestra wins award for National Health Service work

'It changes the weather on the ward': Orchestra wins award for National Health Service work


norman lebrecht

September 05, 2011

Among all the mutual back-scratching awards that come my way week after week, here’s one that is genuinely hard earned.

Musicians of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra have been working in two mental health wards over the past three years, delivering some 400 sessions to patients and staff.  Here’s a video link by way of demonstration (don’t miss the cellist with the stunning French accent). And here’s how it works, from the press release.

Mersey Care commission the orchestra’s musicians to provide therapeutic music sessions for adults and older people with mental health problems, dementia, learning disabilities, brain injury, as well a patients detained in secure units. There are also informal concerts by ensembles from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at inpatient units and service users are assisted, where practicable, to attend the Orchestra’s rehearsals and concerts at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

Evaluations of the Musician in Residence programme by service-users, carers, Trust staff, and musicians have been overwhelmingly positive, reporting that the music sessions reach clients who do not otherwise engage with services, helped clients to express themselves, built confidence and self-esteem, and in some cases helped to develop new interests in music, poetry and reading.   One client said “Music can touch people the way other therapies cannot.”

In awarding their Special Commendation, the RSPH Awards Committee “…were very impressed by the musical excellence of this project in its work with people with enduring mental health needs.  Given the scale of mental health needs in the UK today, and the need for new approaches to supporting recovery, the public health implications of the your work are clear and substantial.”