Music for health, well-being and recovery with guest presenters Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher


Music for health, well-being and recovery with guest presenters Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher


This is the twenty fourth in a series of Earlyarts Training Webinars based on arts and creativity in the early years.

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Watch our highly engaging training video where we will be joined by our Guest Experts, Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher, from the Songbirds project.

In this training video you will learn how music in all forms can help in the treatment and recovery of young children and how its inclusion in hospitals can create a more relaxed atmosphere for patients and relatives.

Songbirds is a unique project enabling music educators Ros Hawley and Mark Fisher to work closely with staff on ward 83 at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for children with acquired brain injury and on long term ventilation.  Through the support of a play specialist Ros and Mark work with the children on the ward, providing them with the opportunity to access and experience live music and musical interaction at the bedside and in small groups.  

They create unique compositions to act as a starting point for a visit with each child, and then they watch and listen to see how the children respond – it might be a gentle turn of the head, or tracking the sound of the guitar, or reaching out a finger or a hand in their direction. It may also be clapping hands, making mouth sounds or shapes, making eye contact or just showing the physical signs of relaxation and de-stressing.

“Having participated in the musical sessions with staff, parents and the children on ward 83 I have seen first hand the obvious benefits that music provides.  The children enjoy it enormously and learn new words while mastering different coordination techniques.  Parents also utilise the opportunity to bond with their children” 3rd year student nurse.

Songbirds is funded by Youth Music with the support of Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust.

This training event is hosted by Earlyarts Director, Ruth Churchill Dower, and is suitable for:

  • early years and KS1 teachers
  • early years practitioners and professionals
  • nursery nurses and managers
  • childcarers
  • local authority officers
  • home educators
  • parents and carers

Which lovely Presenters will I meet?

Ros Hawley is a sensitive and versatile musician who has developed specialist skills around the use of music in healthcare and SEN settings. She has worked extensively as a lead artist and trainer for Jessie's Fund, Live Music Now! and The Royal Northern College of Music. As Music for Health Training Officer at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) she has played a significant role in the development of its innovative Music for Health Programme, training and mentoring both undergraduates and graduate musicians through accredited action learning placements in paediatric hospital, adult hospice and SEN settings. This has helped musicians to cultivate the skills required in order to play in healthcare settings, to engage and connect with patients and to deal with the unpredictable environment of a hospital, and in addition open up opportunities for students in considering new career possibilities involving music, health and disability. Ros’ training work focuses on using practical and simple musical ideas and exercises as starting points to develop group awareness, interaction and communication, generating and identifying the skills and awareness needed for interacting with people of different ages and cultural backgrounds in hospital settings. Ros is now sharing her expertise with practitioners and researchers, making an invaluable contribution to the evaluation and dissemination of this work to other interested bodies; her work was recently celebrated as part of a two day seminar on Music in Healthcare held at the RNCM in May 2012.

Guitarist/bassist/bouzouki player and composer Mark Fisher has worked as a musician in educational, residential and healthcare settings for ten years. A keen improviser and composer, he specialises in using music to create a sympathetic environment for participants, whether hospital patients, service users, trained professional staff or musicians, to relax, interact together and develop their creative skills.

Mark has spent much of his career playing in bands, collaborating with a diverse range of musicians and writing songs. After completing a foundation course with Access to Music, an organisation training pop musicians to develop skills required for educational projects, he went on to gain a BA Honours degree in Music and Philosophy with the Open University, completing this in 2006. In 2005, Mark was commissioned by Interplay Theatre Company to compose music for their production, ‘Daughter of the Wind’, based on the Greek myth of Alcyone and Ceyx. He also toured with the company for this production, and was responsible for overseeing the production of recording of the music created.

Ruth Churchill Dower - As Director of Earlyarts, the award winning training network in the cultural and education sectors, Ruth established Earlyarts in 2002 and scaled it up to have a national footprint in 2009. Ruth is in charge of keeping the vision for Earlyarts high on everyone’s agenda, advocating for what’s important with our youngest children, running the consultancy and export side of the company, supporting the team and generally making sure the business as a social enterprise is sustainable.

Ruth can often be found roaming the hills and valleys to indulge in her passion for paragliding, and spends her weekends puddle-splashing, den-building or tree-climbing with her two children.