East Surrey Hospital bedtime sessions Arts Council grant support


This is a dedicated webpage in support of my Arts Council ‘Grants For the Arts application’ for the Bedtime Sessions project at East Surrey Hospital.

All the information is within this page so please scroll down for further information about my practice,  experience to date, references, music clips and tweets from existing project partners in support of my application.

I have provided interactive harp music sessions in hospital wards and health care facilities for over a decade. Working in children’s wards is an area of specialism and my main artistic focus.

I piloted and launched the Bedtime Sessions project with GOSH Arts at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in 2016, as described below:

“Mark Levin has be working at Great Ormond Street Hospital for many years and has demonstrated a dedication to the GOSH Arts programme and the hospital time and time again.

His gentle and sensitive approach is appreciated by families and staff alike; on a regular basis we receive compliments about his playing and the impact that it has on the hospital environment, our families and staff.

Mark often receives requests from families to play to their children on wards, or at special and personal events which take place both in and out of the hospital.

We recently started running lullaby sessions at the hospital, which Mark was instrumental in establishing. During these bed time sessions Mark plays for families on the wards to aid the bed time process and sooth children on often noisy wards, helping them to go to sleep more easily. The lullaby sessions positively impact the children, their families and the staff caring for them. Mark is a pleasure to work with and an incredibly valuable member of our artist team.”

Caroline Moore, Arts Officer for GOSH Arts at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

Children and young person music sessions

Through my work with hospital partners throughout London I have developed a distinct, interactive concert programme for children and young people that includes:

  • A unique combination of soothing harp music and interactive musical play to promote well-being through music for parents and children alike.
  • Original harp arrangements of nursery rhymes, TV themes, pop and Disney songs interspersed with classical interludes.
  • A child led approach, adapting each session to best suit the needs of the group, individual or family on the day.

Baby music sessions

Sessions for babies in the wards offer a blend of calming nursery rhymes mixed with light classical pieces. These sessions are as much for the parents as the newborns and the emphasis here is to provide a sense of respectful tranquility through live music in what can be very tense atmospheres caring for premature and/or seriously ill babies in high dependancy medical units.

“I hope that you don’t mind me contacting you, but you played a compilation of night-time lullabies to me and my baby daughter on Eagle at GOSH a couple of months ago. Unfortunately our daughter lost her fight against a exceptionally rare kidney disease on Friday last week… you were the only music she ever experienced and it has become one of my most cherished memories with her.”
Parent at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital December 2017

Workshop activities

I offer a variety of interactive music activities adaptive for toddlers and children of all ages and varying abilities, a brief description of these are below.

This project will build on the below also incorporating the second harp:

  • Guided improvisation – helping children to improvise melodies on the harp over a central bass line which I provide. With a little guidance the child soon ‘loses themselves’ to the process and begins creating music without thinking about it. This untaps creativity and also has a therapeutic element.
  • Musical stories – Combining harp music with popular stories as children help and direct me so that the music played reflects elements of their favourite stories or characters, e.g. interpreting the Gruffalo walking in the woods through the harp.
  • Rhythm and clapping games around changing time signatures and different styles and tempos, e.g Latin, Calypso etc.
  • Games to introduce harmony as children play notes or simple phrases and I provide some harmony notes, and then with guidance the child provides the harmony over my playing.
  • Collective singing – traditional music activity where I play popular songs that children and their family (and often staff) all sing along to in unison. Group singing helps reduce stress levels, bring about a sense of togetherness (especially when two or three families all take part together) and simply raises the spirits on the wards.
  • Arranging pop hits – taking children through how a pop song can be broken down into the core elements and arranged for the harp. This suits older children on a one to one basis the most, as we talk about one of their favourite groups and I arrange part of their songs with them. These sessions have seen harp arrangements made of everything from Ed Sheeran to ACDC.

Music clips

Below are two original harp arrangements of popular nursery rhymes I was commissioned to record for GOSH Arts in 2017.

In 2016 I ran a collaborative composition project at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, where children from a variety of wards contributed to an original piece of harp music. Children were each recorded improvising on the harp as I played a guide bass line. The songs were then mixed together into a single piece. The recordings were taken at bedsides in wards and ages of the children involved ranged from 18 months to 15 years old. The piece can be heard below:

East Surrey Hospital

“SASH Charity is looking forward to working with Mark at Harp for Hospitals on this project. The paediatrics ward at East Surrey Hospital would be delighted to have Mark playing for the patients to help make them more comfortable and more relaxed.”
Emily Brown SASH Charity


Below are a selection of further examples of the feedback recieved on and recent exisiting projects and bookings.

Thanks for looking at this page and for taking the time to read my application.

“Thank you for organising this. As I type I’m listening to the soothing and beautiful music that has transported me from this waiting room into a peaceful space. This is a brilliant idea. I am a constant visitor to hospital and this is needed. This soothes patients increases well being, I imagine it has the same effect on the staff.”
Patient feedback Guys hospital Jan 2018

Mark Go Create