During 5-6 consecutive days, a team of three musicians and a mediator visits a (hospital) ward to make music for patients and nursing staff. Each day consists of multiple musical sessions in different rooms.
Description of a day
The Mimic team consists of four people: three musicians and a mediator. Each day has the same structure. The day starts with a briefing together with the coordinating nurse where the team is informed about the patients in the ward and receives any information that they may need to be aware of. Before going into the patient rooms, the musicians visit the staff room during their coffee break to create a musical moment especially for them. Following this, the musicians visit the rooms. Contact with patients, and whether or not the team performs repertoire or an improvisation, differs from room to room and from moment to moment. For a person-centered improvisation the musicians often ask a patient (or patients) for verbal input (i.e. describing a landscape, color or feeling. Sometimes the musician team invites a patient to conduct them in an improvisation. The patients receive a baton and creates music together with the team through his/her movements (for more information, see ‘the music’). Often, the musicians and patients are engaged in conversation between pieces. It’s common for patients to listen to the music with their eyes closed. In some cases, a visit to a room might be almost wordless. The musicians are careful to adapt their interactions and decisions based on verbal and non-verbal signals from the patient(s). After all the rooms have been visited, there is a short evaluation with the coordinating nurse to reflect on the experiences in the ward that day. Working together with the nursing staff, there is an awareness of informal contact and with a focus on developing mutual trust.
A Mimic session (in a room)
Because each session is tailor-made and patients are greatly influenced by how a musical session develops, it is hard to give a singular image of what happens in each room. Sometimes the musicians play for one patient and their nurse and sometimes there are multiple patients and nurses in one room. If a patient is in a lot of pain and cannot process a lot of input, it is also possible that a single musician performs solo. To give an idea of what could happen during a Mimic session in a room, here is an example:
The mediator has been in the patient’s room before the musicians enter and she explains that the patient, as opposed to yesterday, is sitting next to the bed. The musicians discuss an idea to present the baton to the patient that day. They enter the room and are welcomed by the patient. A nurse is sitting on the side of the bed and listens to the conversation that ensues. Sometimes she smiles. The musicians tell that they would like to perform their arrangement of Sam Cooke’s ‘What a Wonderful World’. The patient nods and the musicians start to play. When the piece is over, the patient applauds briefly. The nurse joins in. The patient shares a personal memory about the song and the musicians react to this. Then one of the musicians takes out the baton and invites the patients to lead them in an improvisation. The patient regards the baton apprehensively at first, but after a brief explanation (“you don’t have to beat the measure, but rather paint in the sky, as it were”) they agree to try it out. The musicians react to the movements of the patient which are slightly hesitant at first, but gain confidence and direction as the piece develops. The patient and musicians create an improvisation together in which slow and more dynamic motives alternate. To conclude the piece, the patient makes a series of fast movements to which the patient and nurse react with a spontaneous smile, the musicians cannot help but smile as well: a moment of relief. The facial expressions of all the participants show a mix of concentration, openness and fun. After the improvisation they have a short conversation about the musical experience that just occurred. The musicians proceed to the next room, but will return to this room the next day for a new musical session.
During a Mimic project the ‘mediator’ functions as a link between patients, musicians and staff and takes care of logistics for the musicians. Each morning, together with the coordinating nurse, the mediator makes a plan for visiting the different rooms based on which patients would like to have music. Next, she sets out a route along the rooms for the musicians. Before each session, the mediator is always the first to establish contact with patients. She enters the room, checks if the patients are present and whether they are (still) enthusiastic for the musicians to enter their room and perform for them. This happens without the musicians being present in the room so that patients are still afforded to the possibility of not having any music and as a means of keeping them in charge of the situation. Sometimes, patients prefer to listen together with someone else. In these cases, the mediator can also function as an extra ‘audience member’. The mediator keeps an overview of which rooms have been visited and keeps track of the time spent in each room. The mediator can also observe interactions from the outside, as well as provide emotional support. At the end of a session, the musicians, mediator and coordinating nurse sit down together to discuss the interactions from the morning. The mediator takes notes and makes a brief report for the rest of the ward staff to read before the next day.
In the event of a Mimic project taking place in your organization, we will discuss with you who best to take on the role of mediator. Mimic provides mediators, but it is also possible to recruit someone from your organization. It is important that a mediator is comfortable interacting with patients, has sufficient knowledge of the ward(s) and is available for the full duration of a project. In addition to this, a mediator should possess a basic knowledge of the type of musical interactions that take place in a Mimic project. For this purpose, we provide training for people who are interested in becoming a Mimic mediator. The training consists of observing projects as well as instruction on different types of person-centered music making.