Musician Spotlight – Jason Sweeney

http://www.mrjasonsweeney.com/ 2nd September 2019

Jason began working with us in 2014. His friendly charm and rock ‘n’ roll style have led him to become a popular choice with venues, most notably his monthly sessions in the Rohallion Secure Care Clinic at the Murray Royal Hospital in Perth. His professional and reflective approach to these sessions has meant that they have been incredibly beneficial to patients:

Jason’s visits are the talk of the clinic! He is fantastic.  It is so hard to capture concrete data on the impact but the visible impact is clear and cannot be underestimated.” – Joanna Falconer, Head Occupational Therapist.

We spoke to Jason about his experiences working with Music in Hospitals & Care.

 

What made you want to become an MiHC musician?

I met a member of the team at a talk at the Universities of the West of Scotland. My brother Kevin has special needs and I knew how much music meant to him and how important it was for our relationship and communication. Hearing about the work of MiHC made me realise that I could use my music to connect with a wider range of people in care situations. I find the work hugely rewarding and it has influenced my academic interests too.

 

What are some of your MiHC highlights? 

There are so many wonderful moments to choose from. One that stands out was during a visit to a Dementia Ward in Stirling. I sang a Johnny Cash song and a female patient became very animated and talkative.  I noticed a nurse with a tear in her eye who came to thank me after the session.  Apparently the woman had not spoken at all since she had arrived on the ward some months ago.  The Johnny Cash story and song had somehow touched the patient deeply.

During another session, as I sang ‘My Girl’, I observed a husband arriving to visit his wife who was sitting slumped in a chair. As the husband sat down beside her she looked into his eyes lovingly, smiled and said “that’s our song”. It was a special intimate moment which inspired me to write a song called “In the Heart of the Storm”.

 

What advice would you give to a musician starting out with MiHC?

  1. Make sure you take the time to connect well with the staff at the venues. They know the patients/residents best and can help you set up the concert and atmosphere really well.
  2. Don’t give in to self-doubt. Sometimes it is hard to judge how a session is going, especially if folk have mobility issues or impairments. Look out for simple things like a finger tapping and gentle movements.
  3. A little story telling goes a long way. A few wee personal anecdotes do help but folk really want to hear you sing.

Jason with his brother Kevin

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