In January 2020, one of our founding musicians Amy Bowles completed a residency with the neonatal ward at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, Greater Manchester. When the Covid-19 pandemic closed off hospitals for visiting musicians Amy stayed in regular contact with the staff throughout lockdown.
In December 2020, Amy filmed a 30min Christmas concert and it was shared with staff and families within the ward over Christmas week. The video was viewed over 120 times in the first week and seeing the success of this Community Music Cooperative and the NICU ward began working together to devise a plan to return music to the ward.
By January 2021, there was a live stream going directly to the ward at 6pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 30minutes.
By live streaming rather than recording, Amy could replicate the practice of playing to the wards directly. Amy included songs about the weather that day, cultural celebrations, or world events and recreate the spontaneous responsiveness feeling of being in the room as much as she could by doing this. It also enabled material and delivery to adapt and develop over the weeks.
Devising the materials for the sessions required careful work, to reimagine the parameters of music fitting for a neonatal ward through an online platform. To ensure the musical content was suitable for everyone Amy included a mixture of lullabies and improvised lullaby textures with her voice and guitar, popular songs for parents and staff and inclusion of lullabies from many different cultures (English, Welsh, Scottish, French, German, Spanish, Urdu, Turkish, Cuban, Italian).
Community Music Cooperative were able to provide over 50 concerts through funding from Stockport Local Fund and Tescos Bag’s for Life.