Throughout my musical career this has got to be one of the most fulfilling, heart warming and exciting projects I've done. The Stairwell Project has been a highly successful weekly live music and visual art experiment installation in the foyer, cafe and cancer wards of the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital since the last half of 2015. It has been a growing project since then and expanded to mornings of Monday and Wednesday filled with various musicians and artists. The project is artistically directed by Peter Breen, who is also the founder of the Juggler's Art Space and a massive supporter of local art and music. Many Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University alumni and current students have gathered to perform at the hospital, and in addition various local artists have taken part in creating a colourful venue visually and aurally.
I was welcomed into the Stairwell family this year, and I've been playing music at the hospital for six months now. It's been a very interesting experience, as the 'stage' is not your everyday performance stage. The audience is also a whole different interaction as well. I've played in the admission area, cafe, stairwell, as well as the oncology area. All different areas of unique acoustics, ambience and audience in one building! Each area filled with different experiences and memories of people I've met. The people - they are what's so motivating throughout this project. Their interest and love in my music gives me so much joy, and their compliments are uplifting whilst I'm providing uplifting music for their day. Throughout my time there, I've recorded sessions for my personal practice and research. I improvise a lot, and it's been absolutely fulfilling. It's also turned out quite lovely to listen to so I decided to upload them. Have a listen below:
The way the music weaves in between the sounds of the hospital is one of the most fascinating and exciting discoveries! In a way these recordings have become soothing music for me to lighten up my own day or to create a peaceful atmosphere to calm my mind and body - a somewhat healing experience. One of the experiences I've loved the most at the hospital are the employees, patients and various audience members who come up to my instrument and tell me about their love and interest for the vibraphone. It makes me so happy to see them excited about my passion, and even watching them play too! Here's a picture below of a RBWH employee rocking out four mallets!
There was one experience at The Stairwell Project that made me want to post this blog. Today an old man started having a lost of breath near my spot in the cafe. A lot of helpers came by and assisted him, I immediately noticed and changed my flow of music. A RBWH employee among the helpers came up and complimented on the music afterwards as the old man was escorted elsewhere. Later on a little girl came up to the vibraphone while I was playing in the cafe. Her curious, sparkling eyes were intrigued by my resonating, percussive sounds. She stood there watching as her grandmother sat not far behind. I asked her if she wanted to have a play, and she accepted immediately. We played together for about ten minutes or so, and she absolutely loved it. She was at the hospital as her Mum was in an appointment. As I drove away from the hospital that day, it hit me that my music would be connected to people's memory of the hospital whether its in pain or happiness, entertainment or discovery. One thing this project has taught me is how powerful music and art can be. As musicians, we may not save lives or cure diseases, but we definitely change them by accompanying their everyday lives with music when they need it most. It's these little things that make me love what I do, and the people have been the biggest impact to my musical journey - my gratitude goes out to all the encouraging words from the smiling strangers! x
You can find out more about The Stairwell Project on their Facebook page - go like them and support this beautiful project!
Laugh, Love, Live Music of The Stairwell Project at RWBH!
This blog is a space to share my thoughts, past, present and future moments in my life. Feel free to leave a comment, like the blog or share it! - Anna