LMN musicians are currently working on a demanding and ambitious year-long residency project at Alder Hey Children's Hospital (Liverpool). They are being mentored by experienced LMN alumna Georgina Aasgaard. She met up recently with LMN Strategic Director Karen Irwin to talk about her time with LMN and how this has shaped her career.
Can you tell us more about your role at Alder Hey?
I work in the hospital’s flagship Arts Programme one day a week, interacting with patients, staff and families across the hospital. As Musician in Residence, I’m one of the few non-medical staff on wards and I get to focus on the children’s wellbeing rather than their illness. I’m not a music therapist, but I believe the music-making we deliver on the wards can be highly therapeutic and help to transform the atmosphere on the wards. For example, this afternoon we had a session where patients and family gathered for over an hour around a little boy to make music.
There is a great demand for music throughout the hospital, so it’s exciting that Vicky Charnock, the hospital’s arts co-ordinator, has been able to develop this new partnership with LMN to deliver more music. We’ve recruited four fantastic LMN musicians – Bea, Katie, Delia and Jess – and although it’s been only 4 weeks into the project I’m really enjoying working with them and delighted at how well it’s going so far. It’s great to be able to share my knowledge and provide them with the specialist training and support that I didn’t have when I first started.
What can you remember about your LMN work?
It was a real eye opener because it was the first time I experienced first hand how music can affect people in such a powerful way. I vividly remember my first concert in a special needs school – one child had such a strong reaction to the music that he had to be taken out of the hall. My life as a music student was pressurized with constant practice and stressful exams. But the LMN work helped me to blossom as a performer and became a highlight of my week.
I had my first proper touring experience with LMN, staying in B&Bs across Yorkshire and playing in residential homes for older people. At that stage I was auditioning for orchestras, so it was incredibly refreshing to perform in a duo, and be so valued and welcome everywhere we went!
I really treasured my time with LMN: when you are trying to make it as a professional musician, LMN performances provide invaluable experience and bring such joy and pleasure to people. I’m so excited to be able to give something back to the organisation, this time as a mentor and trainer.
Tell us about your other current work.
Where to start! My work is hugely varied and that is what I really enjoy. I freelance with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (RLPO); I’m Lead Musician for the Orchestra’s Mersey Care project working in psychiatric wards for patients with mental health problems; and for many years I’ve been Musician in Residence at Alder Hey Hospital. More recently I’ve led music projects for Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, DaDa Fest and Knowsley Council working with adults with learning disabilities. And I also enjoy performing chamber music. It’s an ongoing challenge to balance my performance work with time to practice and project work.
Finally, what do you love about your project work and what advice would you give to other musicians wanting to develop this part of their career?
I love meeting people and have a natural curiosity about different styles of music, so I really enjoy musical collaborations in my project work. I think it’s important to be open minded and non-judgemental so that you can understand where people are coming from and create a meaningful connection. I aim to take the lead from the staff in whatever venue I’m working in and use my tool box of tricks at the service of whomever I’m working with … It’s an ongoing adventure and that’s what makes it exciting for me!