music therapy at the christie

The Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) Unit at The Christie hospital


Twice weekly sessions with two trained music tutors are helping young patients to express their feelings and fear following a cancer diagnosis. The sessions also offer patients a distraction from their treatment or relieve the boredom of having to stay in hospital often for several weeks at a time during treatment.

In a fully equipped music room funded by The Christie charity, patients can take part in group sessions, learn to play an instrument or make a recording if they wish. Alternatively, just having a guitar by the bed can help at times when they feel too poorly to leave their room.

Stephanie Furness, music tutor at The Christie, said:


“The one-to-one sessions with patients are really successful. There are regular afternoon sessions including individual instrument lessons and sometimes  patients with similar interests form group activities together. Group musical activities in the social hub have also involved family members and friends of our young patients which create a lovely atmosphere and bring people together. These friendships and bonds may not be made if musical activities were not going on in the social space.

Sometimes patients cannot leave their room due to medical reasons so instruments and practice sheets can be taken to them. So far this year we have taken pianos, drum kits and guitars into patients’ rooms, something which really helps towards ‘feeling at home’ during their stay with us at the hospital. Being isolated in a room for medical treatment can be quite daunting for a lot of our young patients however music builds a massive bridge to social contact when people are isolated, effected by illness, disability or trauma.

The music department continues to go from strength to strength on the Palatine ward with higher patient numbers than ever. Music can help people no matter what their age, background or circumstances and we are so lucky to have the continued support at The Christie to allow this to happen for all our young patients!”


What we do - stephanie furness - music tutor 


Musical activities carried out:

  • 1:1 musical tuition offered to all TYA inpatients and day unit patients on a Tuesday and Thursday. Instruments that are offered:                                    Piano/ Guitar/Bass/Drums and Percussion/Vocals/Song Writing and Recording

  • Regular/weekly 1:1 music tuition for outpatients/patients returning for after care

  • Ukulele group

  • Guitar group

  • Music quizzes

  • Jam sessions with groups of patients/siblings and family members

  • TYA Patient band- the past 12 months consisting of a singer, percussionist, keys player

  • Tuition and guidance for external official music exams

  • Providing music for external events for TYA patients – Remembering friends event/ Remembrance day for families/ Christmas services


Musical trips

  • Six patients invited and taken on a trip to Abbey Road Studios, London. A day trip where the patients recorded an original song which they had written during a song writing day held by music tutors, John and Steph at The Christie. A fantastic song was written entitled ‘Keep on going’ which is about the patients’ experiences/feelings towards having cancer and how they have got through their treatment on our unit. Discussions are underway about the song being officially released to raise money for the charity. A once in a lifetime opportunity for all the patients involved.


Specific highlights

  • One patient gaining her Grade 3 piano exam and passing with a Merit. Tuition and exam funded by The Christie.

  • Writing, recording and releasing an original song written by some of the patients on the TYA unit.

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