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Announcing the Rhapsody App

Friday 6 June 2014


The Royal College of Music has contributed to a brand new mobile phone app which promises to improve the treatment and rehabilitation of hospital patients.

Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity has launched the app as part of its new arts in health project Rhapsody, which brings together music and visual arts into an interactive audio tour for the benefit of hospital patients.

Created with input from physiotherapists, occupational therapists and digital media company imagineear, the app aims to motivate patients in their rehabilitation. For example, instead of patients practising their exercises along the same stretch of corridor, physiotherapists are inviting them to locate artwork in the hospital using an interactive map on the app. In this way patients have begun creating a trail around paintings, sculptures and installations, making progress every day.

The app has recently been piloted by therapy teams at the hospital. Darren Brown, Physiotherapist, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, says: “The app has been really successful in engaging more patients in rehabilitation. It’s actually something patients want to do. Patients may be lacking in motivation and unhappy around their situation. To do something that is part of the real world can help take away those thoughts. Going on an art tour isn’t something that people expect to be doing while they are in hospital. The elation that you can see when people have engaged is really quite significant.”

The artworks on the app have all been paired with newly-composed pieces of relaxing music, commissioned from fifteen emerging composers from across the UK, selected from more than 250 applicants: Chloe Louise Potter, Amal Lad, Joseph Currie, Mika Sawai, Juan Carlos Vasquez, Daniel Andreas Baboulene, Marcos Fernandez, Nick Pike, Soosan Lalavar, Katie Chatburn, Charlotte Harding, Chris Williams, Isaac Ssebandeke, Chris Roe, and Tomas Challenger.

These composers have worked with project ambassador Eric Whitacre and project mentor William Mival (Head of Composition at the RCM) to create works inspired by both the artworks and physiotherapy at the hospital. The musical element of the project was delivered in partnership with the RCM’s Woodhouse Professional Development Centre (now the Creative Careers Centre) and all of the fifteen pieces of music were performed by RCM singers and instrumentalists, and recorded in the RCM Studios.

The Rhapsody Project draws on the growing body of research that looks at the way different types of music can impact on health, particularly how music can be used to stimulate movement in patients recovering from conditions such as strokes. The project aims to improve both patient experience and clinical outcomes within the hospital.

Daisy Fancourt, Arts and Enterprising Health Manager at Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity and Research Associate in the Performance Science at the RCM, says: “We are really excited to launch Rhapsody. It has already demonstrated the powerful effects of bringing together arts, technology and medicine to improve patient experience and rehabilitation. I hope it will inspire future collaboration between musicians, artists and clinicians to benefit patients.”

The app is available to download from iTunes and Google Play, and a video about the project is available to watch on vimeo.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme.

Main Picture: William Mival, Eric Whitacre, Daisy Fancourt and manager of the RCM’s Creative Careers Centre Diana Roberts with some of the project's composers.