Music therapy is hitting a high note with patients at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda, after a baby grand piano was donated to their day room following a community plea on Twitter.
The piano was donated to Ward 3’s day room by Ferndale Community School, when head of music Lauren Beale saw a social media post from Rhondda Member of the Senedd Leanne Wood. Ms Wood had shared an appeal by ward manager and classical musician Nikkita Williams and consultant geriatrician Dr Raja Biswas, who were keen to bring the day room back into use following the first wave of COVID-19 and saw the benefits that music could bring.
The baby grand piano had been used at the school in music lessons and was much-loved by teachers and pupils, but staff recognised how valuable it could be to the hospital. A socially-distanced inauguration was held for staff and patients, with Ms Beale and Ms Wood as special guests, and a beautiful recital was given by Ms Williams – a former Young Musician of the Year in Blaenau Gwent.
Ms Williams said: “Having this lovely room and having got through the early difficulties of the pandemic, I now feel in a position to develop the room. The first point for me was sourcing a piano and linking up with the universities, the arts and music therapists.
“We were trying on Twitter to find an unwanted piano and Leanne Wood shared the tweet. Within about 12 hours, we had three offers, including an offer of a baby grand piano from Ferndale Community School! Leanne also helped find someone who could transport it for us, so it was such an amazing response from the community – quite overwhelming, actually. This is the beginning of a journey that I hope will continue to succeed.”
Ms Wood: “It’s been fantastic to see the way the communities in the Rhondda have pulled together at difficult times. First it was the floods, then people pulled together in a volunteer network when the Covid crisis hit, and then, when we were asked to put out a request for a piano of all things, the community came together.
“Within a matter of hours, three different pianos were offered and now we’ve got a baby grand piano from Ferndale School – from one fantastic community organisation to another, here in our hospital. I’m delighted to be able to be here and celebrate this wonderful community achievement.”
Ms Beale said: “We have had a fantastic day here celebrating this opportunity. We are delighted to be able to give back to the community and we will definitely be collaborating in the future and bringing that musical spirit here.”
Ms Williams is now also working with arts volunteers to put together a programme of music and sounds therapies on Ward 3, dependant on ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, as well as linking with students at the University of South Wales. In addition, Dr Biswas bought for the day room a record player that has a vintage look but has a USB port for patients to play their own music, and he also bought some old records.
“We know that music therapy works,” said Dr Biswas. “When we are forgetful, music can bring back strong memories. We had such a fantastic response from the community of the Rhondda; they pulled together to donate this piano and I think it’s going to be a valuable addition to the ward.”