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Music Therapy

School Music Festival 2015 School Music Festival 2015

Join us in the Royal Melbourne Hospital Atrium Foyer for wonderful live music daily from local and regional school music groups Monday 4 May through to Friday 8 May 2015.
Live Music will be played daily from 10.00am to 2.30pm.  This year’s festival features 14 different schools across the week and over 800 students playing music bringing joy to our hospital halls. We have big bands, jazz groups, choirs, string orchestras, quartets, soloists, rock bands, and multi cultural music ensembles.

There is heating, seating and refreshments provided all week as you sit and enjoy this world’s only music festival in a public adult hospital.

Take some well deserved time out, encourage your patients and their carers to enjoy to wander down and have a listen because Live Music is Good for You!

Download the music festival program listing for schools performing Monday 4 - Friday 8 May.


About music therapy

Music Therapy

The Royal Melbourne Hospital Music Therapy program, founded by Manager Senior Clinician Emma O'Brien in June 1997, is a vibrant growing service. The philosophy of the service is to meet patients' needs, physically and emotionally, by offering quality of life experiences through music and the therapeutic relationship and partnership between patient and therapist. People do not have to be musical to benefit from Music Therapy. Our RMH Music Therapy program offers opportunities for increased self expression, positive experiences and an increased sense of meaning. By meeting patients' changing needs, Music Therapy aims to improve their quality of life.

Our RMH program is centered on live music (listening and participating) and original songwriting. Listening to live music can reduce stress and help to normalize the hospital environment. Participating in live music is also used to help people regain functioning in speech and movement post trauma. In our original therapeutic songwriting program patients are given the opportunity to express themselves and their personal stories in words and music under the guidance of the Music Therapist. Through these methods, Music Therapy can reduce peoples' distressing physical symptoms and increase self-expression and positive experiences.

Our service is world renowned for its innovative songwriting program and new STUDIO THERAPY program. We have an annual school music festval as part of our music in health and the community program (details below) and we run innovative and enaging fundraising events to build our program so that more peopel cna have access to music in the treatment journey. We also support staff with a staff choir and in the annual staff revue.

Music Therapy is managed by Emma O'Brien, manager and senior clinician in cancer servcies and we have a team of health musicians (Dave Evans and Delyth Stafford) and music therapists (Stephan Skov and Nadia Millar) providing a clinical service in cancer care, emergency department, palliative care and neurology.

Current research includes the impact of songwriting on cancer patients' mood and quality of life (RCT) and the impact of singing on stroke patients speech recovery and quality of life (Pilot RCT) .

Winner of the 2011 Victorian Public Health Care Award - Health Leader in Enabling Person and Family Centred Care


'studio therapy’ is about the documenting the process of recording original songs, written at the bedside in music therapy by people whose lives have been touched by cancer, to a professional standard in our new onsite hospital recording studio - check out our

youtube channel below

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The music therapy department is happy to talk to volunteers who wish to come in and play music in general areas of the hospital. All volunteers must attend an interview and audition and subsequent information sessions. We only take volunteers of weekdays between 10am -4pm. Live music in public spaces is much loved by everyone in the hospital including staff, patients, and their families. Volunteers with skills in other areas such as studio production and engineering or administration are also welcome. If you would like to inquire about being a volunteer contact Senior Music Therapist and Volunteer Coordinator

CHAMPIONS - Music therapy is supported by visionary philanthropists and champions.

Our major Patron is Mrs Barbara Haynes OAM – who supports the Caroline Clifford Memorial Trust Music Therapy position and our health musicians program and is the primary patron of the Schools music Festival. Ms Betty Amsden OAM is a great supporter of our Schools Music Festival (in partnership with Mrs Haynes) and is a regular donor to our special projects.

We have some wonderful music therapy champions

Shannon Bennett

Shannon Bennett is a world class Australian chef and author. He is best known as the head chef of restaurant Vue de monde at Melbourne’s Rialto Tower.

Shannon and his team hosted our inaugural music therapy fundraising dinner (Vue de monde , pre opening) in 2011.

We were joined by Adam Hills, Pete Murray and Matt Preston and this premier event raised $75,000 which enabled us to commence a new music therapy position in neurology. Shannon has since hosted our 2012 dinner with special guest Guy Sebastian, and Shannon has also raised money for us in RUN Melbourne.

This year we will be working with Shannon and the team at Vue once again for a once in a lifetime magical evening, where we transform a Melbourne icon into a 5 star restaurant for one night only.

Be delighted, be inspired...just 'Imagine'

Glen Moriarty

Television host, model, actor and presenter, Glen Moriarty is known for being part of the Nine Network's Melbourne Postcards reporting team. Glen is our regular MC at music therapy events and is a champion in our studio therapy program.




Donate to the RMH Music Therapy programIf you would like to donate to Music Therapy, please contact the RMH Foundation and quote Music Therapy on 9342 7111. You can also donate online to Music Therapy.




Singer Pete Murray has released songs written by two cancer patients from The Royal Melbourne Hospital, with his third single 'Let You Go' on his Benefit EP on iTunes, as part of a promise he made to them seven years ago. In 2005 Pete met Kate Dawes, aged 20 and Caroline Clifford, 19. They had both written songs with Emma O'Brien as part of the Music Therapy program.

Pete heard the songs and was very touched by the girls' words, the music and their stories. Pete was a great source of support and hope for both of the girls. He promised that one day he would record their songs. Sadly Kate and Caroline died within six months of each other in 2005.

Staying true to his promise, Pete worked with Emma to record the songs for the families in 2007, shown on the Channel 9 YouTube videos below. Special thanks to all involved

Some profits from the release will go to Music Therapy at the hospital, so that more patients can have access to the songwriting program and find their song. "Pete's heartfelt recordings of these two beautiful songs will finally be available to the public in Kate and Caroline's memory," Emma O'Brien said. "Thanks to Sony Music Entertainment Australia, Pete's managment John Watson and Dave MacGregor, and special thanks to Pete Murray."

Video clips

A message from Pete Murray about the songs and the clips
"I am very impressed with all the beautiful work and support over the years for the songs, and in particular the wonderful support everyone has shown in making both music video clips. This is also a great opportunity to spread the word about music therapy and how songwriting can really change people's journeys. I know the girls are smiling at us now"

Join in the conversation and find Pete's Promise on Facebook.

To purchase the EP visit the iTunes store.




For more information about the Music Therapy program, please contact:

for more details please contact Emma O'Brien
Music Therapy


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