Music programme to heal mind, body at UAE hospitals
One of the Emirati musicians seen performing for the patients at the Tawam hospital in Al Ain. - Supplied photo
Abu Dhabi - This was the first in a series of Music in Hospitals programme presented by the month-long Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF).
Patients at the Tawam hospital in Al Ain were pleasantly surprised on Sunday when two young Emirati musicians - Eman Al Hashimi and Mohammed Al Awadi - visited them and played two concerts of classical tunes performed on oud and piano.
This was the first in a series of Music in Hospitals programme presented by the month-long Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF). Now in its 13th year, the annual spring festival is a mix of visual and performing arts, as well as arts debates.
"It is widely acknowledged that music can be highly therapeutic; it can relieve pain, stress and anxiety. The Abu Dhabi Festival's Music In Hospitals initiative, which has been running for seven years seeks to advocate the role of music in healthcare, while creating opportunities for some of the nation's gifted young musicians to perform for patients, families and medical professionals," said Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF), which organises ADF.
According to her, over the years the initiative has received "tremendously positive feedback" from the hospitals' audiences, so the initiative has grown to include more hospitals.
"This year we are collaborating with Al Tawam Hospital in Al Ain, Shaikh Khalifa Medical City and the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre in Abu Dhabi, and RAK Hospital in Ras Al Khaimah," Al Khamis-Kanoo told Khaleej Times.
The healing powers of music have been proven scientifically and music therapy is now an established health profession, in which music is used to address physical, emotional, cognitive and social needs of individuals.
Research has shown that music may reduce heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure in those with coronary heart disease or it can even be an effective treatment for people suffering a brain stroke.
"Medical studies internationally have shown it can help pain management, reduce stress, inspire physical movement and boost cognitive exercise. It is this positive power of music that is at the heart of the festival's Music In Hospitals initiative," pointed out Al Khamis-Kanoo.
Apart from Al Awadi and Al Hashimi, the concerts will be performed by Sherine Tohamy on oud, Meera Ghobash and Umaima Al Shunnar on violin. They are not musical therapists by profession, but they do hope to bring some "inner peace" to their audiences.
'It's my dream'
For Eman Al Hashimi, playing for hospital patients is more than just another concert.
"Music in Hospitals is very special to me. I have always dreamt, since childhood, of curing people with music," she said.
A music composer and pianist, Al Hashimi began making up her own songs when she was five years old.
"Music is peace and peace makes us human; it brings the best out of us," she said.
"When I play for hospital patients I don't know how they feel; some may need sad songs to go deep down to find their peace, others need cheerful tunes to find their peace and there are also people in need of angry-like songs to release their emotions and find peace this way, so I will play a mix of all these type of music to reach everyone," added Al Hashimi.
The Music in Hospitals programme will continue with a concert at Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, today; at the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre in Abu Dhabi on April 6; and the RAK Hospital on April 7.