Bringing joy to hospital through music

Very sick children and relatives can spend a long time in hospital, or be hospitalised repeatedly. In the beginning, games like PlayStation or watching videos can be fun. But after a while, hospital life becomes boring as well as full of pain, uncertainty and anxiety. Children and young people spend most of their time in bed.


That is why the Denmark Programme has been supporting Lisbeth Sagen and her fellow musicians who visit different hospitals to play music, in particular for children and young people. They play music at bedsides and in hospital wards, and often give impromptu violin lessons.


Lisbeth, a professional musician, plays in concert halls in and outside of Denmark. Bringing music to the hospitals is what interests her most. “The experience of happiness and the feelings we have when we play at hospitals is not at all the same as when we play at ordinary concerts,” she says. “Music gives relatives, staff and patients a chance to get away from sickness, pain and death and to open up to other kinds of feelings.” She explains how children are able to forget about their situations and it frees them to think about other things and to dream. In addition, when the musicians play, patients need less medication and the days run more smoothly.


A young woman explains how she has been in and out of hospital for years. Because of this, a lot of her social life is connected to the hospital, where she has built up friendships. Of course friendships are more often best built on enjoyable events shared with others, rather than on bad experiences like pain and the fear of dying. Through musical events, friendships with other patients come to life, and this is important when times are difficult.


“Music gives relatives,staff and patients a chance to get away from sickness, pain and death and open up to other kinds of feelings.”

- Lisbeth Sagen, Professional musician


Daily, Lisbeth receives letters from parents thanking her for the concerts she gives in the hospitals. Parents who listened to the music just before their child died wrote that listening to the group play was the happiest moment they had spent together. Often, families mention how important music is when trying to pick out good memories from long hospital stays. In addition, young people express how the music gave them energy and made them less passive. Clearly music is a beautiful addition to the lives of those in hospital. Oak is delighted to support Lisbeth in her endeavours.



   Lisbeth Sagen and her fellow musicians play music for children and young people in hospitals.

 © Susanne Nielsen, Skejby Hospital


Source: Oak Foundation Annual Report


Year of publication: 2016




Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.


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