What can music ‘move’ in a hospital setting? This intriguing research question is at the heart of this new book. The project Meaningful Music in Healthcare, in short MiMiC, described here, emerged from a collaboration between the research group Lifelong Learning in Music at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen and the department of Surgery at the University Medical Center in Groningen. There seemed to be interesting possibilities in bringing a ‘person-centred’ musical approach to a hospital setting, where people were severely ill and vulnerable, following surgery. Here, musicians went into the hospital and created music ‘in the moment’ at the bedside, for and with the patients and their nurses. The journey of the musicians, patients and nursing staff that followed proved both worthwhile and exciting to explore.
The explorative research had remarkable results, both qualitatively as well as quantitatively. It was a period of great experiences for all. It revealed many rich and diverse outcomes and contributed to the awareness that music personalised in this way has transforming potential, which should be utilised as much as possible. The person-centred music making, as the musicians themselves termed it, turned out to be transformative not only for the patients and nurses, but it also gave the musicians involved totally new perspectives on their professional identity. Now the research has led to a book, If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On, which takes its title from the famous opening line from Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. This study should engage the interest of musicians, health care professionals and the wider community, as the five authors, Rineke Smilde, Erik Heineman, Krista de Wit, Karolien Dons and Peter Alheit, take the reader through the fascinating story of Meaningful Music in Healthcare.