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Lulu recently joined our Music Therapy team and we are delighted to welcome her to the Cancer Centre for Children where she shares her love of music with young people in Oncology. One of the most significant ways Lulu helps patients is by using music to promote coping strategies.
“I find kids just naturally love to play music,” says Lulu. “It can also help them express emotions which can build up, if they're anxious or upset about a procedure, which lets us know how they feel so we can help them.”
Children make the choices in music therapy which gives them a sense of control often not felt when undergoing medical treatments resulting in a positive shift in mindset. Lulu has special ways of reassuring shy children and says it can take time to build up trust between the therapist and the child. “I always tell them, there’s no right or wrong way to play music. No matter what you do it all sounds wonderful because it comes from your heart.”
“To encourage them, I might say 'I’m not good with the lyrics and need your help' and they often join in, or 'you can be the teacher and teach me', which is fun for them.”
Older children and teenagers can have different needs.
“Sometimes older kids are keen to learn so I’ll teach them how to play their chosen instrument and it keeps them active by learning in hospital. They may want to keep learning the instrument when they go home.”
Music has played an important role in Lulu’s life from an early age. She began learning the piano at four years old, studied classical piano at university, and later studied social science, to accomplish her aim of using music to engage people and improve their emotional and physical condition. Her seven years of experience as a music therapist for people with Huntington’s disease, a condition that affects nerve cells in the brain, showed the importance of enjoying each day and valuing every moment.
“It is a really meaningful job. Seeing a child in a tough situation, still capable of playing music with me, and enjoying creating music in the moment, is really inspiring.
“Being a music therapist is my dream job, and I really love working with kids.”
Find out how music helps patients on our Music Therapy page.