How music can lead to better healthcare

09 Jun 2017

The Hush Foundation and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra (ABO) have teamed up for a one-off concert highlighting the role music can play in healthcare.

Macquarie's Dr Terence Kwan brought the two organisations together to raise funds for The Hush Foundation's work supporting children with severe or terminal illness.

The Hush Foundation commissions music from leading Australian composers aimed at reducing the stress and anxiety that hospital stays can have on patients.

The work Hush does helps us refocus on the tremendous power music has."

Kwan says the organisation was a perfect fit for the ABO.

"The Hush Foundation's work is so innovative and it's hard to imagine a higher quality, more energetic orchestra than the Brandenburg," he explains.

Australian Brandenburg Orchestra’s cellist Anthea Cottee also sees an obvious connection.

"The emotional experience of the listener is at the centre of everything we do as an orchestra," she says. "It's all about trying to transport someone from their everyday life, which is what the Hush Foundation is about too."

The Hush Foundation's mission began almost two decades ago when founder Dr Catherine Crock noticed many of the children she treated were not only in tremendous pain but also anxious and afraid. The hospital environment did little to put their mind at ease.

"Hospitals can be bewildering and challenging. It's not always the welcoming, calming environment you'd hope it would be," she says.

"It seemed like a good idea to play background music to change the mood. We tried classical music but it wasn't right.

It often built to a crescendo or gave the impression of impending doom."

That's when she decided to commission music specifically designed to alter the mood of her patients and their families.

The Hush Foundation has now released 16 albums and is the largest independent commissioner of music in the country.

While the original idea may have been to help her patients and their families, Dr Crock noticed the music also had a positive effect on staff, who she says became more compassionate and empathetic towards their patients and each other.

"When staff start treating each other with kindness they make fewer mistakes and the healthcare system works better."

Meanwhile, Cottee says Hush's experience very much ties in with her philosophy on the power of music to transform the world.

"Being a musician is a great privilege," she says. "Music has the power to bring joy to people, to comfort them or to help them make sense of the world."

"The work Hush does helps us refocus on the tremendous power music has."

Hearts for Hush took place on 8 June 2017 at Macquarie’s headquarters in Sydney, featuring the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Lior, The Idea of North, Elena Kats Chernin and the Macquarie Group Choir