Will Browne is a guitarist who has been working with MiHC in South Wales since 2014. He performs relaxing renditions of popular songs such as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ and ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ in range of settings including our ICU Hear® sessions on critical care wards.
How did you first get involved with MiHC?
I had been performing in care homes, hospitals and SEN schools as part of a duo and we got so much out of this we decided to apply for MiHC as they offer a wide range of performance opportunities in all care settings and I wanted to develop my musicianship further through this medium.
What have been some of your highlights?
There have been many amazing experiences over the years, seeing residents in care homes sing along and dance to the music is really great and my recent work at Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital has been a new experience and really enjoyable.
A real stand out moment for me was when a patient in hospital was quite agitated and in some discomfort so I was asked if I would play some soft music. I improvised on a Welsh Folk tune and after a little while the patient became more relaxed and went to sleep. Seeing the effect the music has is just amazing.
How have you found the ICU Hear® sessions?
The ICU Hear® sessions have been an incredible experience. I have been doing them for almost two years and they have completely changed the way I communicate through music.
At first I wasn’t sure how the sessions would work but I was offered the opportunity to do some training at Manchester Royal Infirmary and observe a session given by clarinettist Rachel Filhart. Rachel was amazing and I was so inspired by her work that I couldn’t wait to start in Wales.
The sessions have challenged me as a soloist but have helped me develop skills such as improvisation, playing from memory and learning to observing the space around me.
Going from mainly performing to lively audiences in care homes to patients on life support is daunting but the way you use the sound of your instrument is really important. You have to be very respectful to friends and relatives who are visiting and play in a way that is not obtrusive. Most importantly it’s being flexible and knowing when to play and not to play. As you would expect on an ICU it can be a tough environment with high emotions but staff have always been so supportive and there is a very useful network of musicians to talk to and get advice from.
Overall the response to the sessions has been overwhelming and I now have regular monthly sessions at Royal Gwent, Royal Glamorgan and University Hospital Wales.
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