“In that moment when I’m playing the flute for patients, we are making music together even if they are only humming or singing along. It’s really nice.”
Ernastina Lippett and her flute wander around the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) serenading patients and their families with a wide variety of music. This forms part of the Centre for Creative Health’s Music in Residence program which aims to make the RAH a calming and relaxed atmosphere for both staff and patients.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN VOLUNTEERING AT THE RAH AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START?
I started volunteering at the old RAH in September 2013. I wanted to share my music with other people and I thought it would be nice to play in a hospital setting for those patients who don’t get many visitors to break up their day. I now play my flute at the RAH once every month.
WHERE IN THE HOSPITAL DO YOU PLAY AND WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC?
I currently play in the Oncology Day treatment area but we are hoping to move up to the wards soon. I have a repertoire of music including well known classical tunes and some Celtic and folk music. I adapt my music to wherever I am at the time, some people may want something lively while others calming.
When patients are waiting for appointments it’s nice to play music and break up their day a bit. I tend to stay in one spot for 15 minutes before I wander somewhere different.
HOW IS YOUR MUSIC RECEIVED BY PATIENTS AND STAFF?
Patients and staff love hearing my music. In outpatients people can hear my music from down the corridors and often peek their head around to see me. People say it’s a nice surprise to have music in the hospital and they find it calming.
I have some patients who may have been walking down the corridor and they’ll just hum or sing along while I’m playing.
DO YOU HAVE ANY STORIES FROM YOUR TIME AS A VOLUNTEER FLAUTIST AT THE RAH?
I have so many stories from my four years, I should write them all down! Once I was playing in a ward where I was opposite two patient rooms. I was quite conscious of not playing too loud as both patients had their doors open, but when I started one of the patients got up and sat on the end of their bed so they could watch me, and the other who was in their room with visitors all positioned their chairs so they could watch me.
It’s just those little experiences that make what I do worth it.