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Live music gets rapturous reception at the Royal Free

12 July 2013 - 11:04am

Patients at the Royal Free Hospital were offered live music alongside their therapy in an innovative programme set up by the London hospital and the Guildhall School of Music.

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Bassoonist Luke Crookes accompanies Gilberto Ferraz at the Royal Free's pulmonary rehabilitation group. Photo: David Bishop

Students from the Guildhall played and sang at the hospital’s pulmonary rehabilitation group over the two-week project, from 17 to 28 June.

Laura Leadsford, director of therapy services at the Royal Free, said: ‘Usually the patients do their exercises to recorded music but the live music gave them a real boost. The musicians played songs to match the movements, which really kept the momentum going.’

The project was funded by the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers, a charitable organisation which has historic links to the Royal Free.

Ms Leadsford had approached the Cordwainers with a view to setting up support for therapists at the trust. The master of the Cordwainers had links with the Guildhall and suggested its students could work with the therapy team.

‘We don’t typically offer music therapy as a treatment,’ Ms Leadsford said. ‘So instead we looked at how we could use music alongside treatments, and in patients’ day-to-day lives. It’s been about making a treatment more inspiring, or using it as a distraction.’

She said the feedback had been ‘brilliant’. ‘The physiotherapists, in particular, love it.’

‘The musicians have also visited one of our renal dialysis units and the patients there have found it very therapeutic to listen to,’ she added.

She said the therapy team was now looking to extend the programme, and was carrying out research on the possibility of patients themselves getting involved in singing and playing instruments to help with breath control.

‘It’s all really exciting, it’s been a great opportunity for us,’ she said.

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