Tinderbox at Sick Kids Hospital

We’ve been facilitating music workshops for the children and young people at the Sick Kids Hospital for three months now.
The reaction we get from everyone is different. Often faces light up as we walk in; children and their families are intrigued by the colourful and exciting instruments, and are eager to take part in something fun and creative.
Other times we are met with an almost wary sense of trepidation from the young people.
As I have discovered, it may well be the case that one week someone will say no, and a week or two later they will want to take part. There are so many reasons why someone may not want to join in or listen. They may feel too unwell, or feel apprehensive. They may simply not be in the mood!  As a music practitioner, you need to be sensitive to all of these factors, but not discouraged… The most important thing is that we are offering the chance to engage in some music and are giving the young people the power of choice to decide if they want to interact on any level — even if that interaction is them shouting ‘NOOO!’ I imagine that at such an uncertain time, in an environment where most things are out of your control, it’s probably quite nice to shout ’NOOO!’ at somebody!
Every Tuesday morning, we enter Ward 2. After having spoken to the staff, we offer music to the young people. Strumming a little bit of guitar, or waving a plastic banana shaker, or generally making a fool of ourselves, we go around the rooms and see if anyone is interested. Two weeks running, we asked a little boy of about 7, and he said no. These same two weeks, we asked a little girl of about 5 and she screamed no. No probs we said, maybe another time! (:
Last week, we headed to the playroom, and within 5 minutes of being there, the boy of about 7 appeared, and stayed for the whole session. He played every single instrument, and even played the bells whilst walking along the floor piano. We rocked out for ages, playing songs and making up little rhythms.
Two other children from the ward came and joined in. We were all joining in together and I suddenly saw the girl at the door who had shouted no for the last two weeks! She watched us for about a minute with her mum before going back to her room.
To me, this is reassurance that our approach is one that is consistent and allows us to become familiar to the young people.
We had some wonderful feedback from the boy’s mum, who said he had been relaxing by watching videos of himself that she had taken during the music workshop. She was delighted he had joined in, as it had taken him several weeks to build up the courage to do so.