EDMusos Jingle Bells 2020. EDMusos singing. A virtual choir of emergency physicians and emergency department staff.

EDMusos Christmas Eve: Medicine and Music

I worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We didn’t have outbreaks to deal with on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, thank goodness. But there was still work to do. Much-needed catch-up with admin office work and follow-up.

On Christmas Eve, 2020, this beautiful arrangement was released on Youtube. For your listening pleasure. The moment it dropped, it represented for me a line in the sand. I could actually think about Christmas.

About EDMusos

The ED Musos are a group of healthcare workers from Emergency Departments in Australia and New Zealand. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we turned to making music together to lighten our moods, connect with others and to give us the strength to show up to work each day.

After the year we’ve had, oh how important it is for the mind and heart to do things like this wonderful project. The fact that people working in emergency medicine and public health on outbreak response can still sing is testament, I think, to the human soul’s desire for joy, even during the unprecedented year of 2020. It’s been an unbelievable year.

“The poets did well to conjoin music and medicine, in Apollo, because the office of medicine is but to tune the curious harp of man’s body and reduce it to harmony.” 

Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626).

Writing this in January, thinking about the year that was. What a year you were, 2020. As a professional working initially in emergency medicine and then public health in Australia, you hope to be useful in a pandemic.

In public health, you hope your skills and experience will help others better adopt the COVID safety messages to reduce the risks of contracting a highly infectious disease. You want to keep people safe.

You want to help lessen the suffering, however small your contribution. You hope you can do your best job, however small, even in unchartered waters.

You want to be part of the solution, serve communities, and help us all get out of this. That’s why I put up my hand last year to help.

Outbreak response in 2020 and heading into the New Year 2021 (Black Rock Outbreak etc) and the first few weeks of January have been relentless and fast-paced.

The pandemic with its necessary public health measures, and the rapidly changing inter-state and International border situation, means many were not able to see their loved ones, their family, for Christmas. And it has been that way for nine months.

The threat of COVID-19 saw Australia and New Zealand close their international borders since March to all, but returning citizens and residents. So, in the midst of all the outbreak response work, it’s great for the mind and heart to have diversions, however brief, like singing and music. That’s why I enjoy participating in EDMusos.

Thank you.

Merci bien.

Kia ora. Mahalo Nui loa. Fa’afetai lava.

Xin cảm ơn.

There are so many ways to say thank you, aren’t there? Thank you to the doctors, nurses, and staff working in emergency medicine, and particularly to Dr Clare Skinner, for the extraordinary energy and heart behind this musical effort. Medicine and music, as Francis Bacon noted, go well together. It did feel like Christmas listening to it. Thanks to everyone, especially Clare and Chris Wiseman, for bringing EDMusos to life.

This Jingle Bells arrangement was so enjoyed by the little ones in my scattered family, in Singapore and Australia’s remote states. Their reaction was my litmus test. If they loved it, that would bring me untold joy on Christmas Eve and beyond. I knew it would warm their little hearts. I wanted them to have that memory of me as their Christmas gift.

COVID-19, like so many families around the world at this time, has meant I didn’t see my little family in person at Christmas, since March. But I can’t complain. It doesn’t feel right to do so.

Many people have died, many have been infected with COVID-19, many of them alone during this pandemic. People have lost their jobs and livelihoods, their ability to keep studying, and the means to support their families. Many businesses have closed down permanently in the CBD, as a result of the pandemic. And of course, millions of families were separated from their loved ones around the world, some of whom would have been young children caught in border closures and apart from at least one or both parents.

So, how can I complain when my pain pales in comparison to what others are going through?

Being thankful, keeping the mind busy, and learning something new. That is what has helped me get through this past year. Trying most days to remember every blessing, every good thing, every good person that’s been in my life. Counting them one by one. And trusting that one day, I will be reunited with my little family, more than just via Zoom. That’s our prayer. During our online family catch-ups at Christmas time, the little ones sang Jingle Bells back to me with the same vigor as we did in EDMusos, as though we were present in person with each other.

And on that note, thank you to fellow colleagues who took part in EDMusos. Everyone who participated in this, myself included, did this in our own personal time. It took more than several takes. Let’s say, I pluck a figure from the air, oh say, at least 100 takes (maybe, tongue in cheek)….I can laugh at that memory now…

Hope you enjoy it. My family’s little people certainly did.

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Vienna Richards
Vienna Richards
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