Rosie's Rainbow Fund has helped many individuals and families over the years. Here are several case studies from children we have supported.
'During these volatile periods, she has formed a unique bond with her music therapist Andy who she adores. He has been a refreshing breath of fresh air during some exceptionally challenging periods and as a mum it had been a pleasure to watch Hifza momentarily lose herself to the music and engage with Andy despite whatever complication she may be going through at that moment in time.'
This is my perspective of the sessions as Hifza’s music therapist:
'When I first met Hifza she was a lively and very communicative baby at 7 months old. During the autumn and winter of 2013-2014 I was able to visit Hifza weekly at the John Radcliffe children’s hospital during the lengthy times that she was an inpatient. In the first session she looked backwards and forwards between her mum and me as I played the guitar and sung and mum also sung. She vocalized often and reached for, held and sounded the bells. She was content to carry on with the music whilst mum spoke with the doctor. Over 11 individual music therapy sessions as her confidence and motor skills developed she regularly played different instruments and vocalised with clear patterns of turn taking. She also showed me her own musical toys. She smiled often and enjoyed the sensory experience of putting her foot on the saxophone as I played it. By the end of this period she was also playing the ukulele with careful finger plucks. '
'The next time I saw Hifza was May 2015 when, at the age of 2, she was by now speaking single words and sitting up. She was initially unsure of me and facing away but increasingly engaged and looked and then played instruments confidently, smiled and chatted with one word comments such as yes, thank you, and possibly saying my name ‘Andy’ as well. She handed them back one at a time near the end and waved goodbye. I'd been told Hifza was wary of men she didn’t know at that time and reluctant to engage with them. Thankfully she engaged well in the music therapy, possibly due to the motivation of playing the instruments, my therapeutic approach and my purple Rosie’s Rainbow Fund T-shirt that matches our aromatherapist Amanda who had chatted to Hifza the day before.'
'In the winter and spring of 2015-2016 Hifza was in the hospital for longer periods again. I have been able to see her 9 times and during this period she has taken ownership of the sessions, eagerly choosing and arranging the instruments she wants to play and clearly communicating which songs she does and doesn’t want to sing. She grins and says ‘Andy’ when I arrive and shares what she is doing by calling mum to look and listen. She sometimes points to and acknowledges each person saying ‘baby’ (Hifza), ‘Andy’ and ‘mummy She calls the guitar a ‘tar’ and does actions (e.g. Heads shoulders, knees and toes) and sound effects in songs (e.g. Yum yum in 5 little speckled frogs). She also improvises happily on various instruments, listening and taking turns to lead the flow and style of the music that we play. She particularly enjoys the xylophone, rainstick, drums and shakers. She also strums the guitar the ukulele. At the end the session Hifza continues to carefully help me pack away by handing back instruments one at a time before waving goodbye. Although in some sessions she has firmly wanted to hold onto one instrument which I have collected later, she has in the most recent sessions been able to give them all back.'
'The music therapy process enables Hifza to confident take control of a creative interaction that affirms her independence and growing sense of self and other. She shares in the music in a cooperative way, listening and responding to my musical ideas and offering her own patterns and preferences. She expresses a range of emotions and moods through her playing, for example when strong and feisty and when quieter and relaxed. She shows great enjoyment and celebrates the music we create with clapping and smiles. She is also able to direct and have a part in the ending of the session. In a setting where medical procedures are frequent and non negotiable, the music therapy gives her a sense of empowerment and a facility to express emotions and thrive in a creative experience. She is a great joy to know and to do music with and her smile is very infectious. '
Music Therapist (MA): HCPC reg.: AS13775
21st April 2016
The following is a summary of Hifza’s medical condition and experience of music therapy as told by her mother:
'Hifza is a 3-year-old girl who has spent long periods of time at John Radcliffe Hospital, as an inpatient due to multiple complexities and several life limiting conditions. She spent her first 13 months of life as an inpatient and many months subsequently in hospital also undergoing multiple lifesaving major surgeries and fighting a multitude of horrendous infections.'
Therapeutic jamming: Since February 2015, 5-year-old Will has been attending weekly music therapy sessions during his extended stay at the John Radcliffe children’s hospital.
Before his first music therapy session Will was very keen when I chatted to him in his room and enjoyed singing the Lego movie song 'Everything is awesome' with me and was excited about drumming. He had apparently had a negative experience
of a group music session with someone else recently which had, at the time, made him shaky and anxious, possibly related to his condition and how it affected his participation. In the music therapy session with me he was very keen and played the drums loudly and confidently with regular beats and enjoying improvising. He also played the electric guitar and keyboard.
During the sequence of sessions he has been drumming loudly and expressively to play the drum kit and electric guitar loudly and energetically as if letting off steam. Whilst drumming he has enthusiastically sung 'Everything is awesome' with me and has also enjoying learning to play some Star Wars themes on the keyboard. More recently Will has enjoyed using a music technology instrument called the Skoog and has explored the creative potential of the ipad for making music. One app called Noise (by Roli) enables him to build up a chaotic and overwhelming soundscape of clashing notes which perhaps expresses some of the frustrations and difficulties of his condition. And yet he revels in it, grinning and enjoying sharing it with me and mum.
The wide variety of possibilities with the range of instruments has given Will a sound world playground in which to explore and interact with me. My role has been to acknowledge and reflect his freedom to express himself and try to match the intensity of his playing to hold and contain it adequately so that he feels safe to do this.
What has seemed important for Will is the control he is able to have over the sessions. Firstly, he has the choice of participating or not. He has chosen to do so each week although has had a say in the timing of the session during the day. He is able to be physically strong and active and creatively explorative and wild in the way he plays the drums, keyboard and iPad instrument apps. The sessions help to support him emotionally during a lengthy stay and contribute to a sense of relative normality amidst the stressful nature of his condition and hospitalisation.
Music Therapist (MA): HCPC reg.: AS13775
21st April 2016