An international two-day conference, which presented overwhelming evidence that music has a profound effect on health and wellbeing, has been heralded a huge success.

The event was organised by Canterbury Christ Church University's Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health.

The conference included an award ceremony which saw academics who had made a significant contribution to research and practice in arts and health receive an award from the new Royal Society for Public Health for their outstanding achievements.

Professor Norma Daykin, of the University of the West of England, Bristol, won an award for her groundbreaking research, and Dr Gary Ansdell and Sarah Wilson of the Nordoff Robbins Centre for Music Therapy, were recognised for their contribution to the field of music and health. Dr Selwyn Hodge, Chair Elect of the new Royal Society for Public Health presented the prizes to the winners.

Prize winner, Professor Daykin, was nominated for her award by Professor in Music Therapy, Leslie Bunt. Professor Daykin, who's 20 years experience in health research is respected locally, nationally and internationally, conducted a recent study of musicians who were recovering from injuries or ill health. She explored how their attitudes towards creativity had changed and how they had developed a more holistic approach to their work. Further information is featured in the notes to editors section.

Speaking at the conference, Professor Daykin said: "I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. This award and the conference have brought much needed visibility and attention to arts and health. It is indicative that there is a growing movement of practice and research in this area and I am very privileged to be involved."

Dr Ansdell and Sarah Wilson were awarded for their music therapy work with the Chelsea Community Music Therapy Project. The project is a collaboration between three organisations - SMART (St Mary Abbot Rehabilitation and Training Community Mental Health Project; the South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre (SK&CMHC, part of CNWL NHS Foundation Trust) and Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy (further information see notes to editors section). The project provides music therapy in both SMART and SK&CMHC for adults with mental health problems and offers positive pathways and bridges between states of illness and health for patients and their transitions between forms of care.

On receiving their award, Dr Ansdell and Sarah Wilson said: "We are thrilled to receive this recognition of our achievement. We would like to dedicate our award to the people who participated in the project and those who allowed us to study their progress and development."

Certificates of commendation were also presented to: Penny Holden of Sing Your Heart Out; Matthew Raisbeck of Sing For Your Life; Annette Rolls of Moor Green Singers; and Dr Kari Batt, Eastern Norwegian Research Institute.

Organiser of the University's Music and Health Conference, Dr Stephen Clift, said: "I would like to offer my congratulations to the winners and the academics who participated in the conference. The Music and Health Conference has been a huge success - it has brought together people from a range of different backgrounds and given participants access to a wide range of perspectives. I am confident the conference has encouraged further collaborations, sowed the seeds for future research, and placed music and health firmly on the map."


Background: International MUSIC and Health Conference

The conference, entitled 'Music and Health: Current Developments in Research and Practice', saw leading authorities on music and health present their research to promote the positive impact of singing in a bid to encourage healthcare professionals to recognise music as a crucial form of treatment.

The conference provided an overview of current developments in research and practice in the field of music and health, with particular reference to:

- Music in health and social care settings;
- Music in public health promotion and community development;
- The role and value of established community music activity for wellbeing and health.

Professor Norma Daykin

Background of Professor Norma Daykin, in the words of Professor Leslie Bunt, who nominated her.

"Professor Norma Daykin's insights in health research have contributed to her original and significant publications and presentations in music and health research. Her work has a range of both breadth and depth and is indicative of Professor Daykin's outstanding intellectual ability to manage highly complex research milieu, methodologies and methods."

"Professor Daykin's research is not addressed just at academic communities but is embedded in policy and reflects a commitment to improving healthcare services. Recent studies include work on the extent and scope of music activity in cancer care; research on musicians' health; an exploration of professionals and clients' accounts of therapeutic music; research on arts in mental health and dementia care; and an examination of the impact of participation in mediating diverse experiences of arts. Her current project examines music making as a means of enhancing participation of 'hard to reach' grounds in mental health care, pioneering work with implications not only for wellbeing but also for policy and service development."

Dr Gary Ansdell and Sarah Wilson

Background of Dr Gary Ansdell and Sarah Wilson's Chelsea Community Music Therapy Project, in the words of Professor Tia DeNora, who nominated them.

"At research level, this project has been concerned with how musical activity provides resources for health promotion. At the level of practice, the project has set up a rich array of musical opportunities. The first phase began in January 2005 when Dr Gary Ansdell began working at St Mary Abbot Rehabilitation and Training Centre (SMART), seconded by Nordoff-Robbins outreach, to initiate a Community Music Therapy project in the café at SMART. This activity proved popular and useful to members and staff, and demonstrated both the need for music in this venue, and also possible developments from this, linking with music therapy provision at South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre (SK&CMHC).

"The second phase began in January 2007 when Sarah Wilson joined Gary Ansdell on the project. Sarah works as a music therapist in the adjacent SKCMHC, often working in individual and small group music therapy sessions with patients who also used SMART when well enough. This gave the opportunity for an informal link between the two sites, with music as the 'pathway' between them.

"Sarah soon developed this to following up some of the musical 'needs' that emerged from the SMART Music Group. These included the need for a more private singing group to allow members to rehearse for the public group. Sarah has also helped set-up a SMART Band formed from a group of semi-professional musicians in the SMART community. Both of these 'spin-off groups' are currently developing well, and have fed fresh energy with home grown entertainment by SMART musicians. Equally important has been Sarah's increasing work helping people to use music to 'bridge' from SK&CMHC wards and Day Service to SMART. These are often the people Sarah has worked with as a music therapist in the medical setting and who have successfully 'bridged' to SMART through a 'musical pathway.'

Canterbury Christ Church University