The Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity Youth Club have been meeting through Zoom throughout lockdown. This worked as a brilliant way to hang out whilst shielding is an issue.
I met with the group 3 times on Zoom to chat about their experiences during lockdown. We had some amazing discussions and there were some very poetic moments. Each week before I met with them I would try and mould our chats into another part of the song to play back to them.
I tried to ensure that every voice was heard in the song we were building. Sharing the chords with a girl in the club meant she could jam along on her bass. The narrative arc of the song built up as we discovered new directions and feelings. Themes of friendship and ways to continue communication were very prominent.
Around the wards we had 3 sessions with the focus on songwriting and came up with some lovely things! from ‘I am the king of music’ from a toddler in Ward 3, to a collaborative piece between 2 families in Ward 7, marking their journey throughout their time in the hospital, their goals achieved and hopes for the future. It sounds very serious, but it was all created with laughter and lots of silliness. We made a recording of it back at the Drop In Centre and sent it to the families.
Lastly we spoke to lots and lots of NHS staff about their experiences of lockdown with the aim of bringing all of these experiences together and making a song about it!
Since then I have been back in the hospital, playing music to young people and their families around the wards.
– Hailey Beavis
It’s fantastic to be back at the Sick Kids Hospital doing music sessions around the wards. The first session was a bit of a learning curve; trying to get used to wearing a mask whilst playing music and realising how much I rely on my facial expressions to communicate to younger children! It didn’t take long to get used to and it soon began to feel like a normal session. I was a bit unsure what the reception would be like at the start and if people would be less inclined to take part but this worry was decamped as soon as I got into the first ward and everyone was keen to play the instruments and listen to some music! The sessions have mostly been bedside jam sessions, performances round the ward and we recently got some ukuleles donated that I’ve been trying to give short lessons on.
As well as being a lot of fun for the children and young people in the hospital, the staff have been incredibly welcoming and have been enjoying the sessions; some describing it as the “highlight of their day”. One of my highlights at the hospital came in my second session back when someone’s mum said that this (performance) might be “the only concert in the world right now”.
Thanks to everyone at the Sick Kids Hospital and Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity for keeping the arts going in the hospital!
– Rhys Gilchrist