Volunteering for Musicians On Call (MOC) seemed like a natural fit. Most singers on the roster are professional musicians, and I am not. I admit to sometimes being a little nervous before a shift because you never know exactly what you are walking into, but once we get going, my nerves go away quickly. The patients and their families are always so nice and so appreciative.
Early on, I had the pleasure of shadowing a local songwriter during her shift at Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, and she played some of her original music for the patients. It was on that night I knew I really wanted find my place in this organization, too. All songs we cover must be positive and uplifting. It is the patient’s choice what they are in the mood for, and I’ll do a faster song if the patient is awake and alert or a softer one if the moment seems to fit something quieter.
Though I have enjoyed them all, the veterans and the Children’s Hospital shifts have been most memorable. On a very busy night I will sing for 40 to 50 listeners in one evening, but most shifts average around 20 patients. My fingers usually hurt when I get home from playing so much guitar.
One evening, I spent some time with an elderly lady recovering from burns. She was spunky and sweet. She told me all about how much fun she had in her younger years on lower Broadway singing karaoke and asked me if I’d ever done that. I had to laugh and admit I had not! We talked for a while, but clearly what made that conversation happen was a connection of the two of us just through a love of music.
Our role is simply to complement the healing that is already taking place and add a little something to a patient’s day. A couple of weeks ago, a little three-year-old boy stood up in his bed and said “I love you!” as I left his room after singing. I responded from the doorway “I love you, too!” This made my night.
Mr. Sean Smith has been a big help to me when I needed him and when I needed some class time to prepare. I’m not sure I could have done this without him. Over the summer, I will be doing some additional hospital shifts and some music therapy research as an Ensworth Service Scholar and will spend a little time shadowing other MOC volunteers in the new Seacrest Studio on the second floor of Children’s Hospital.
Not many people know I had a pretty serious cardiac illness at age three. I was young and don’t even remember it or remember being in the hospital. Fortunately, I’m completely fine, but the night I met that extremely talkative little blonde three- year-old, it struck me that it could have been me. Every time I end my shift at the hospital, I come away knowing this service work really matters, and I am very blessed, honored and grateful to be on the roster of Musicians on Call in Nashville. As the MOC hashtag goes, “#musicheals.”