Sick Kids strikes right note

Anna Pentony, ten, joins in a therapy session with Kristin McDonald
Anna Pentony, ten, joins in a therapy session with Kristin McDonald
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HUNDREDS of children at the Sick Kids hospital are set to benefit from music therapy as part of a year-long project to distract them from their 
illnesses.

Funding has been provided for therapists following the success of a six-week pilot project based in the neurology ward and the drop-in centre.

From next month, the cash will pay for two music therapists from charity Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland to visit the hospital for six hours a week.

More than 700 children with conditions and illnesses ranging from cancer to respiratory problems are expected to benefit from music therapy sessions over the year.

Half of the funding for the £11,500 initiative will come from kids’ cancer charity Stars for Harris, while the remaining £5750 will be provided by the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.

Stars for Harris was founded by Allan and Tanya Ross in memory of their 16-month-old son, Harris, who tragically lost his battle with an aggressive brain tumour in August 2010. To date, his parents have funded a large haul of equipment for children’s wards in the name of the Lochaber tot.

Music therapist Kristin Macdonald will work with young patients in the hospital as part of the year-long initiative. She currently works at Nordoff-
Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland’s Broxburn base.

She said: “I was delighted by the success of the first project and it gave us a taster of how effective a permanent music therapy fixture could really be.

“Our aim was to offer the children the opportunity to create their own music using 
easily accessible instruments. This allowed them to express themselves and socialise through creativity.”

Over the six-week pilot, which finished in March, 35 children benefited from music therapy that was tailored to each child’s individual needs and abilities.

Kristin added: “It was really rewarding to see our work actively aid children who are receiving treatment at the hospital for illness, injury or even a disability. Music can be a motivator and a soother – something in which the children can channel their energy to distract them from boredom. Music therapy aims to help the children exercise the well parts of themselves.

“The children were encouraged to make choices, lead activities and express themselves through music. Music can also provide a container expressing difficult feelings like fear and anger. I play the guitar with the children. They love getting involved and learning about the instruments and the music we play together.”

Instruments used during the music therapy sessions will range from guitars to drums.

Maureen Harrison, chief executive of the SKFF, said: “I am delighted to announce that the Sick Kids Friends Foundation will be funding this fantastic project as of September. This was a great opportunity to link up with Allan and Tanya to work together to provide the music therapy resource, and we look forward to seeing children who are treated at the hospital benefit from this.”

Opening up music to everybody

CHARITY Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy in Scotland is the largest provider of music therapy in Scotland, providing more than 9000 therapy sessions a year nationwide.

Its executive director, Janet Halton, said: “During music therapy sessions, therapists will endeavour to engage each person in meaningful musical activity.

“The therapists are trained to encourage and respond to the individual’s exploration of sound, providing musical support, addressing personal needs and facilitating an environment in which people can feel safe to openly express themselves.

“We believe that everyone has the ability to respond to music, regardless of age, ability or background. Our therapists provide music therapy for people with a range of needs, including autism, learning disabilities, mental health difficulties, life-shortening conditions or dementia.”