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Music across the Trust

We have an extensive music programme across OUH, bringing musicians into our hospitals to play for the health and wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff.

Music does much to change the feel of our hospitals, reducing stress and anxiety, and has proven therapeutic benefits for patients.

Music on Wards Programme

Our successful music on wards programme has been running for over 10 years. Musicians Kate Wilkinson and Tristan Pate regularly perform 1:1 concerts to patients on Geratology, Stroke and Orthopaedic wards, and in the Transfer Lounge where patients wait for transport home.

Between them they deliver over 1,000 concerts each year.

We also provide one-off concerts to patients who may benefit from bespoke music sessions.

A quartet from Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra perform regularly to patients on the Tarver Dialysis Unit, delivering popular interactive sessions as part of the orchestra's community programme.


"I loved the music so much, I had been feeling very depressed and down in the dumps and this has given me a real lift, I can't thank you enough."

"Thank you so so much, it was a true privilege. I'm lost for words, and that doesn't happen very often! I will treasure this memory for the rest of my days. It was so incredibly beautiful."

" ...this was really well received - thank you! One lady was swaying to the music and singing along. Afterwards she said it made her come alive again!"

"There really is no doubt what a huge positive impact this has on our patients but also our staff!! There is such a noticeable atmosphere shift - staff stop and smile, shoulders drop, people tap their feet or sing along."

Benefits of music

We regularly evaluate our Music Programme and see a wide range of benefits to patients, their families and staff, particularly those with dementia.

The part of the brain responsible for storing emotional memory is unaffected by dementia, which means that the evocative effects of music endure throughout life.

Our music sessions:

  • lift mood and reduce depression - with benefits lasting two to three hours after the music session
  • often engage previously unresponsive patients - we see toe tapping, hand movements - and increase verbal communication
  • calm and relax patients who are agitated
  • initiate conversation, tapping into memory, helping staff to engage and develop relationships with patients - and to see the person behind the illness
  • enhance appetite
  • create a positive mood on wards - benefiting staff as well as patients - we often see staff clapping, dancing and singing, lifting the mood of the ward for everyone.

There is now a wealth of research showing the beneficial effects of music.

Studies show that regular music sessions on wards:

  • shorten length of stay
  • reduce falls
  • decrease use of antipsychotic drugs.

Concert programme and volunteer musicians

As well as our Music on Wards Programme we welcome musicians and choral groups to perform in the West Wing atrium at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

We're also lucky enough to have regular volunteers who play our baby grand piano in the entrance to the Cancer Centre and our piano on Level 7 lift lobby at the JR, and we invite patients, visitors and staff to sit down and enjoy the benefits of playing.


"I don't know what I'd have done without the piano during this inpatient stay. It's been my only means of escape from the ward, given me a source of emotional release and pleasure."

Music for staff

For staff who play an instrument, we welcome you to join the Radcliffe Orchestra.

For those who sing (or who would like to try) we have two staff choirs - the One Voice Choir in Oxford and the Power Choir in Banbury - focused on the enjoyment of singing.

If you would like to know more, please contact Ruth Charity, Arts Lead.


Last reviewed:19 March 2024