Paul has been working with Music in Hospitals & Care in South England since 2011. His friendly Irish tones and great repertoire of singalong favourites make him a hit with audiences of all ages.
What made you want to become a Music in Hospitals & Care musician?
A couple of friends introduced me to MiHC. They spoke about how special and unique it was to play music for an audience who might not easily get to hear and experience live music; this made me curious so I decided to find out for myself. Being around instruments and musicians constantly it is easy to forget that lots of people do not hear live music regularly, especially if they have difficulty getting access to it in the first place. So I auditioned and thankfully I was accepted.
What have been some of your highlights?
Every concert is different, even when returning to the same places time and again. You can’t take anything for granted and that makes for a special event. Every concert has its own unique atmosphere and there are highlights and remarkable moments in every one. They can range from performing to a lively group of school children dancing around a gymnasium for an assembly, to a one to one bedside singalong with a senior bringing back the memories associated with a special song. I once played Mama Mia to a dancing three year old while her dad took the opportunity to have a private moment with her consultant. She wouldn’t let me stop playing and I certainly didn’t want to.
With the dancing and the joy can also come tearful moments, when the emotion can be overwhelming and indeed challenging for all, but they too are special moments. I have enjoyed contributing quiet instrumentals to help create calm in an Intensive Care Unit alongside taking requests for Johnny Cash and Elvis songs in the same unit. Once, after a full on dance-a-long session for adults in the day room of an acute mental health centre, one patient remarked to me ”this is better than any medicine they can give us.” The feedback from patients, staff and visiting family members is truly heartfelt and rewarding. It is inspiring and spurs you on to learn that new song request or revisit a forgotten classic. Not every live music performance outside of Music in Hospitals & Care can boast that. So many highlights, rewards and special moments. I could go on and on!
How have you found the online sessions you have been involved with for Music in Hospitals & Care during lockdown?
I can’t see my audience on YouTube Live, so I try to imagine them. I thought that might be difficult, but I’ve been with MiHC for a good few years now, so I only have to close my eyes and I can see faces and places where I’ve shared wonderful musical events. It is not difficult to imagine… people singing along, dancing and smiling and maybe even getting a little tearful. That’s the power of live music in the day room, on the ward and by the bedside.
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