We organise in the region of 4,500 professionally performed interactive live music concerts a year for people of any age receiving care or treatment for an illness or disability. Our musicians visit hospitals, hospices, care homes, day centres and special schools and all concerts are tailored to meet the needs of the particular audience-group and setting.
We work in partnership with a variety of organisations, NHS Trusts and grant givers to deliver a range of one-off sessions as well as on-going programmes and residencies. Recent partners include: The Alzheimer’s Society, Jersey Arts Centre, The Healing Music Trust (Guernsey), The Royal British Legion, BUPA, Music for Health, Music for Dementia, The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal Northern College of Music and The Royal Welsh College of Music.<=
Some examples of one-off sessions currently offered are:
- themed reminiscence afternoons in care homes
- singalong sessions at day centres for adults with disabilities
- family fun performances at children’s hospices
- classical concerts in oncology units for those undergoing treatment for cancer
plus many more..
We work with professional standard musicians who are carefully chosen by audition and require special qualities. As well as a very high level of musicianship they have exceptional communication skills enabling them relate to and interact with each member of their audience, whatever their age, illness or disability. Whatever musical culture or background our musicians come from, they are all highly respected and distinguished in their field.
In 2013 we celebrated our 65th anniversary. We’ve come a long way since our beginnings in 1948. Read more about our history below.
Sheila McCreery, an employee of the newly established Arts Council, first conceived the idea of a project bringing live music into hospitals, following the closure of the Entertainments National Services Association (ENSA) in 1946. Sheila had worked for ENSA during WW II organising musical entertainment for wounded servicemen in military hospitals, and had witnessed the great therapeutic effect these concerts had on patients. In 1947, following a consultation process with a number of doctors and hospitals and having secured a small amount of voluntary income, she organised a pilot project of 22 concerts given by famous artists at the time. In November 1947, following the success of the pilot project a committee was put together to ensure the project continued into the future and the name “The Council for Music in Hospitals (CMH)” agreed for the new organisation. CMH was officially launched in January 1948 with a grant of £1,000 from The Ex-Services Mental Welfare Association with work focussed in mental and orthopaedic hospitals and TB sanatoria. The policy at the time was to provide concerts of ‘serious’ classical music, generally chosen on behalf of the patients by the ‘Medical Superintendent’ of the hospital. Up to 700 in-patients were brought to large concert hall spaces within the hospitals with women seated on one side of the hall and men on the other and the musicians performed from a high stage, separated from the patients. During 1949 285 concerts were performed across 45 hospitals around the country.
In 1955 CMH became a registered charity. Access to new streams of income meant CMH was able to provide concerts for a more diverse range of hospitals and began to offer some slightly lighter programmes, such as shortened operas and instrumental recitals. Following the death of the influential physician and champion of CMH Dr. Mitchell, a fund was set up in his memory with an annual prize of 20 guineas for the best essay on music and music therapy research. These papers gave insight into current practice and elucidated the need for artists to have, in addition to their musical gift, the ability to establish a good personal relationship with their audience. Learning from this, CMH artists began staying for refreshments and chatting with the patients after concerts and some hospitals were encouraged to experiment by holding more intimate performances for smaller groups of patients. During the 1950s an average of 300 concerts were held each year.
During the late 50s and early 60s CMH worked closely with the newly established British Society for Music Therapy; however by the mid 60s the parameters between the work of the two charities became more clearly defined. CMH was not, and is not to this day, seeking to provide clinical Music Therapy, but rather musical entertainment that seeks therapeutic and well-being outcomes. As well as the many classical concert programmes the charity’s new Gilbert and Sullivan concert was a particular favourite during the 60s. Sadly CMH hit difficult financial times towards the end of the decade with concert numbers dropping down to around 180 in 1969.
In 1972, after 25 years with CMH Sheila McCreery stepped aside and Sylvia Lindsay took over as Secretary, working from her dining room. Sylvia conducted fresh consultations with hospitals, following which CMH’s ‘music policy’ was revised to include new informal programmes including jazz and popular music, in order to connect with a wider range of the population. Sylvia also identified regional variations in requests for concert programmes and sought new artists around the country. She liaised closely with doctors and encouraged them to make concert choices based on the views of the patients. Improvements in care and treatment for people with mental health conditions meant that by the mid 70s vastly fewer people were kept in long-term hospital care. It was recognised that the majority of people receiving long-term care were now aged 60+. Sylvia sought musicians who could provide a wide repertoire and who had a flexible approach when singing for groups of older people. She also pioneered the taking of live music directly into hospital wards for elderly patients too frail to be moved to a traditional performance space. It was during the 70s that CMH received its first ever grant to provide free concerts to hospitals and homes which couldn’t afford to contribute towards to cost of concerts. By the end of the 70s, concert numbers were on the rise again and CMH was working with more than 100 musicians offering everything from classical to old- time music.
It was in 1980 that CMH organised its first concerts in Scotland, with a tour of 30 hospitals. Such was the popularity that the following year a Scottish committee was set up and ‘Music in Hospitals Scotland’ (which now operates from an office in Edinburgh) was born. By the end of the decade 300 Scottish care centres were having regular concerts. Funding received for the 1981 ‘Year of the Disabled’, allowed CMH to bring live music to centres providing care for people with sensory and physical disabilities. Grants to provide free concerts increased during the ’80s allowing CHM to visit even more new centres including hospices, special schools and nursing homes. In 1986 CMH began offering children’s programme with specially selected musicians. By the end of the ’80s CHM was giving around 2,500 concerts a year at around 600 different centres.
In 1990 CMH launched its first ‘friends scheme’ giving a real boost to fundraising and allowing CMH to work even more creatively. (Many of these original friends still support the charity to this day, and we hope some are in the audience tonight). CMH developed a number of innovative partnership projects including working with charities in Jersey and Guernsey to organise tours of hospitals and care homes on the Islands. These tours continue in 2013. In ‘92, after 20 years running CMH Sylvia handed the reigns over to her assistant Pam Smith who led the charity for eight years. Pam developed CMH’s work with young people and also worked on developing programmes for older people with dementia.
In 1999 CMH was rebranded to become MiH (Music in Hospitals). In 1999 Diana Greenman, who had worked organising concerts for the charity since 1986 succeeded Pam and led MiH up until February 2012. By the mid ‘00s MiH had established small satellite offices in Wales and the North West allowing the charity to build strong regional connections and employ more local professional musicians. MiH went from strength to strength with average annual concert numbers of 4,300 (2,800 in England, 1,500 in Scotland.)