Palliative care patient’s magical duet with guitarist

Patient Brenda Adams and musician Hanna Tsoi at Mount Druitt Hospital.

A palliative care patient battling ovarian cancer has testified to the power of music, telling nurses that singing a duet from her hospital room in Mount Druitt Hospital made her feel “wonderful”.

Eighty-nine-year-old Brenda Adams’ spirits soared as she joined music therapist Hanna Tsoi to sing the children’s song ‘Daisy Daisy’ though she confessed to being worried about her ability to hit some of the high notes.

“Singing today made me feel wonderful even though I dread to hear how I sound down the other end,” Brenda said.

“I really like the old-time songs, I’m happy to sing these oldies.

“It was great. I’ve had a lovely day today.

“I think Hanna has done a marvellous job and it’s something totally different which people in here would never experience.”

Hanna visits the hospital’s palliative care unit every Tuesday and performs as part of a musical therapy program. 

She packs a trolley with instruments such as electric keyboard, piano, guitar, bongo drums, harp, flute, shakers, chimes, bells and microphone for karaoke and  visits patients in their rooms or in the common area.

“I’ve always wanted to show everyone the magic of music and help transform their health,” Hanna said.

Hanna’s project was evidence based and used palliative care data which charted the scales of pain and nausea. 

Brenda and Hanna sing ‘Daisy Daisy’.

Hanna would try to match that scale with the patient’s condition and found many people with pain, nausea or sleep deprivation benefited from the music therapy

“When I visit patients, sometimes their families are present, so I play music with everyone which is very special,” Hanna said.

“Patients who are really unwell prefer to listen to softer music played on the harp which is very relaxing for them.  Patients who are not as sick tend to choose the instrument to play themselves so we make beautiful music together.

“There have been plenty of moments when a patients’ room also becomes a karaoke party.”

Hanna and Kevin entertain staff and patients every Tuesday.

Hanna recalls the moment when a patient was so unwell he chose not to speak for a week.  Once he heard the music he started to sing and pray.

“Mount Druitt Hospital Palliative Care Unit has such supportive staff and volunteers.  It’s rewarding to engage with the patients and ensure they have the best quality of life which is something I enjoy doing,” Hanna said.

For further information about the music therapy program email Hanna: