How music-for-health practitioners’ decision-making processes inform their practice in paediatric hospitals — Jessica Tomlinson & John Habron

Volume 14 (2) 2022 – Article (first published on 5 February 2021)

Full text [PDF]

How music-for-health practitioners’ decision-making processes inform their practice in paediatric hospitals

Jessica Tomlinson & John Habron


This qualitative research study investigated how music-for-health practitioners make sense of decision-making in the context of paediatric hospital wards in the UK. Whilst existing studies have explored the skills practitioners develop and how these relate to outcomes and benefits of music for health, this article describes specifically the process of decision making and how practitioners drew on previously attained skills. Four music-for-health practitioners, all of whom work in paediatric hospital wards in the UK, were interviewed regarding their experiences of making decisions. The interviews were semi-structured. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and the following themes emerged: (i) Building the foundations; (ii) Taking note and taking in; (iii) Performance conditions; and (iv) Forms of communication. The research is addressed to music-for health practitioners at the beginning of their careers, offering ways to understand the process of decision making. It might also support more experienced practitioners to understand and reflect on their professional decision-making processes and to have an evidence base to use when training new practitioners. With its focus on the paediatric hospital, this article also has possible multi-disciplinary relevance in helping doctors, nurses and other staff better understand music-for-health practice.


decision making, paediatric hospital, music for health


Jessica Tomlinson (MMus Hons) is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity Laban Conservatoire. She is a clarinettist and saxophonist, playing regularly with orchestras around the UK, recent engagements including Thursford Musical Spectacular and Southwell Festival Sinfonia. Jessica is a founding member of Chameleon, a multi instrumental, award-winning wind quartet whose members are Live Music Now artists. She is passionate about music for health and wellbeing, and spends a large portion of her time working with LIME: Music for Health at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, SEND schools and dementia care homes through Live Music Now, and at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool. [] John Habron (PhD) is Head of Music Education at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, UK, and Extraordinary Associate Professor in the MASARA (Musical Arts in South Africa: Resources and Applications) research entity at North-West University, South Africa. A composer and music therapist by training, John now undertakes transdisciplinary research, with particular interests in the practical, theoretical, and historical connections between music, movement, and wellbeing. His research has been published in Psychology of Music, Journal of Research in Music Education, and Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, among others. In 2016, he guest-edited a special issue of Approaches: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Music Therapy. []