Manchester Camerata's Music in Mind

The Healing Power of Music

12 Apr 2022

The RPS presents a revelatory conversation between musicians who are devoted to supporting and inspiring people in healthcare settings nationwide.

Classical music has felt like a lifeline for many of us in the pandemic, keeping our spirits bright. But its potential to fuel, fortify and restore is far greater than that. Across the country, the NHS and a range of care providers increasingly draw on musicians to help in the comfort and recovery of people experiencing acute physical and mental health conditions.

In 2021, a major report published by Orchestras Live, the Association of British Orchestras and the City of London Sinfonia capture the growing scope and quality of such work. Complementing this, we wanted to bring together some of the musical heroes devoting themselves to this mission across the country.

In our RPS conversation – entitled ‘The Healing Power of Music’ – meet Katherine Spencer (Principal Clarinet, City of London Sinfonia), Ryan Breen (Tuba, Manchester Camerata) and Dave Ayre (Double bass, Sinfonia Viva): leading devotees to this cause who share frank, moving first-hand testimony of why it matters. They are joined by Natalie Ellis (Head of Arts, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust) to discuss the unique role that musicians can play in the nation’s wellbeing. The conversation – hosted by Katy Hamilton – may change forever the way you think of classical musicians and the role they play in our communities.

In the conversation, filmed in March 2022 at St Marylebone School in London, tuba player Ryan says ‘Culturally we have to be more open to telling audiences about [this work]. I think we need to lay our cards on the table and say this is what we’re doing, and if you show the tangible results and great work going on, more or less everyone would be very open to receiving that.’

The NHS’s Natalie Ellis says ‘People in care settings can feel quite powerless. You come in as a patient and sign yourself over. It’s very refreshing to have a non-clinical person come in and want to do something positive that celebrates what you can do. That’s a really powerful thing about musicians: we’re not going to focus on what’s not right. We’re going to focus on what we can celebrate in this moment, and that will completely transform a person’s experience.’

Thank you for sharing the link to this page with anyone you think may be interested to watch the conversation.

The RPS is pleased to host an ongoing series of conversational events like this, giving music-lovers the chance to get closer to music-makers as they share personal, human insights into what it takes to be a musician today. RPS Members can book first for these events and, in the dedicated Members Area of our website, watch films of them all, including such artists as Nicola Benedetti, Roderick Williams, Tasmin Little, Sir Thomas Allen, John Wilson and many more. RPS Membership is a great way of furthering your musical curiosity, while every subscription helps us support, protect and champion the musicians you love. We are grateful to you considering becoming an RPS Member: your support will enable us to do so much more for music, including giving a platform like this to musicians like Katherine, Ryan and Dave who deserve to be heard. Thank you for your support.