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Sample Template For A Children’s Hospital Event

Location: such as The Atrium at Children’s Hospital

Our possible goals for this session might be: to reduce stress and anxiety, uplift, help create a calming environment and take patients out of their stressful personal space for a while.

Venue description, likely audience, acoustics. Describe: what is the ambient noise level? Are listeners seated or passing by? Who is listening?

Contact person telephone, email

Choosing music

Choose pieces which are

  • In the 60-80bpm range
  • In the middle to lower part of your pitch spectrum, particularly if you play a treble instrument such as violin.(Stay more or less within the human voice range)
  • Keep music selections short, with options for repeating sections. Music should ideally be
  • Predictablein structure
  • Simple, easy to digest
  • Consistentin texture
  • Melodic
  • In agentle beat: Waltz, Pastorale, Menuet, Sarabande
  • Uplifting, tranquil, or containinga message of hope
  • In major keys for the most part. Nothing sad!

Avoid pieces which

  • Contain sudden or abrupt shifts of tempo, dynamics, meter, or rhythm
  • Have lyrics that might contain negative associations, e.g. Christmas songs: your listeners might be sick of Christmas music, be of another religion, remember an unhappy event from this time of year, be reminded of financial worries, or be reminded that they aren’t able to shop this year because of their diagnosis. Or this could be the wrong season!

Developing your playbook

In your book you should have 30-40 short pieces including:

Pieces that they might know, e.g.: Simple Gifts, Hey, Ho! Nobody Home, Are you Sleeping, Happy Birthday. These days they might be surprised what songs they don’t know!

Calming as well as energizing music

A wide range of styles: Folk, fiddle (American, Irish or Scottish), opera, chant, Baroque, Renaissance, something with a drone

Different energy levels: for calming your listeners, pick slower, quieter, pieces with fewer changes or contrasts; for energizing them, use dance tunes or other faster music; however, due to the circumstances you may not be able to play very loud!

 A range of colors: Include pieces involving a mute, pizzicato, slides, ornamenting, a drone, or harmonics. Switch between solos and duets.

Something which can be interactive: 

If children are present, try eensy weensy spider with finger and hand motions, or pop goes the weasel, where they can clap on “pop,” or play a tune they can move to. For an adult, try a familiar song they can either sing as you play or hum quietly if they are shy; e.g. Amazing Grace or Simple Gifts. You can read them the words to Simple Gifts, since they are reassuring. 

Music should be divided into two categories:

Calming in 2 or in 3

Energizing in 2 or in 3. 3 suggests rocking or release. 2 is more for a marching type of movement

Note: Before you play, the music you bring should be reviewed with the music therapist. You can plan your session as you share information about the general stress level of people in the hospital or any unusual events that would affect the environment where you will be playing that day.

Once you have arrived at the location where you will be playing, make a note of the ambient noise level. Talk with some of the attendees to pick up information that will affect your playing or choice of pieces. 

Evaluation and feedback

After the session, staff and musicians should reflect on what happened, and give written and verbal feedback:

  • What pieces worked best? Were there pieces that weren’t suitable?
  • Were there any uncomfortable situations where the musicians did not know what to do?
    For players:
  • Do you have any ideas that would improve how you connect with your listeners?
  • Did you find any gaps in your playbook?
  • Do you have suggestions for ways to adapt pieces so they would work better?
  • Did you make a positive difference?
  • Was this a positive experience for you?
  • Do you have any other comments, observations or suggestions?

For more information on music and wellness visit http://wellness.pittsburghsymphony.org/

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