Southampton – Sarah’s story

Our Concerts Co-ordinator Phoebe Gorry reflects on a performance she gave as an MiHC musician at Southampton General Hospital that she will never forget.

Sarah’s mum said that it was the most stimulated she had seen her daughter for weeks – the experience really demonstrated the power of music as a therapeutic tool.

It was our first time performing on the children’s ward at Southampton and I was singing accompanied by an acoustic guitarist. We had prepared a varied repertoire, from classic nursery rhymes like ‘Twinkle twinkle little star and ‘Row row row your boat’, to pop songs by Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. We were expecting to perform for a range of ages, from 0 – 17 years, chaperoned around a series of different wards to visit children with different health needs.

A nurse asked us if we could spare 10 minutes to visit to a private room for a 10 year old girl, Sarah*, who was in a state of deep sleep and had been this way for considerable amount of time. When we arrived, we were greeted by her mother and sister who were by her bedside. The mood in the room was sombre.

The mother told us that Sarah loved music and asked if we could we play something lively like Pharrell Williams or Jessie J. We decided to play ‘Happy’ by Pharrell, which has positive lyrics and is a high energy song with a simple melody that is easy to sing along to.

As I began to sing, Sarah opened her eyes and seemed to be listening! She wasn’t able to move or respond, but just this small reaction seemed like a milestone and her mum became very emotional.

We were all very moved by this moment and I found it difficult to hold back tears as we continued to perform, moving on to ‘Shake it off’ by Taylor Swift and ‘Valerie’ by Amy Winehouse. I made a conscious effort to move whilst I sang, as I wanted to make sure that Sarah could see me whilst lay down on the bed and felt that incorporating movement with singing would give her extra stimulus.

Sarah’s mum said that it was the most stimulated she had seen her daughter for weeks – the experience really demonstrated the power of music as a therapeutic tool.

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