Case Study: Early Years Hospital Visits

LSO Discovery’s Children's Hospitals programme works with infants and children aged 0-18 in hospitals across London, many of whom suffer from chronic, life-threatening or terminal illness. LSO players and workshop leaders engage in one-to-one bedside visits and small group sessions, as well as working in pre-existing hospital school units.

Music soothes the savage beast
‘Together with LSO players, I make around 15 early years hospital visits a year – that’s out of a total of 36 visits overall, involving over 500 children and families. We visit places like King’s College, Royal London and Whipps Cross with one simple aim: to improve the daily lives of ill children.

My speciality is young children and babies. Hospitals are stressful environments full stop; the psychological vulnerability that accompanies childhood only compounds a difficult situation. Our sessions are gentle, private and spontaneous – we take our cue from the children, each of whom is totally unique. We witness so many positive results: escapism from a frightening environment of noisy machines and adult conversations. Access to important, unrealised emotions. Catharsis. It’s about expressing yourself without words, having a troubled mind nursed without medicine.

And mums, dads and nurses feel the benefit too. Our sessions are a stabilising, hopeful force in a so often unstable, bleak environment. Finally, sound mental health is an irrefutable driver of physical recovery. It constantly amazes me that by doing comparatively little we can make such profound shifts.’

Vanessa King, February 2014

Harpist, Great Ormond Street