Volunteer Musicians Bring Joy to Hospitalized Patients
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
On a recent Saturday, some 30 to 40 elderly patients at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco are seated for a morning enrichment program. Chip McClure, a MusicianCorps volunteer, arrives just as they finish watching a YouTube video of a Tina Turner performance, on display through a television set. The care professional on duty puts away the TV and warmly announces to the patients that Chip has come to perform some piano music for them, which draws a round of smiles from the patients, many of whom suffer from dementia. Chip proceeds to introduce himself and announces that he’ll be playing some standards from the American songbook. By the third song–Blue Moon–Chip has the audience hooked. Some are singing along, others tapping their feet, and at least one conducting the music with an arm raised in the air. By the end, a woman exclaims (for the third or fourth time), “We love you! Come back soon!”
Chip is one of several musicians who have lent their time and talent to patients at Laguna Honda through a partnership with MusicianCorps that brings live music performances to the hospital twice per month. For Chip, it was not only his first time volunteering with MusicianCorps, but his first time volunteering ever. “It was fantastic. I can’t wait to do more,” Chip says. “It was a very, very moving experience connecting with all the residents…it was heartwarming.”
Other volunteers have echoed Chip’s reflections. Yuriko Urushibata, a Bay Area music therapist, says, “I decided to volunteer because I enjoy sharing music with a wide range of people in the community. I don’t always get a chance to do that.” Yuriko adds, “While I was playing When You Wish Upon a Star, I noticed a patient who joined the group in the middle of the song, and soon she started to sing along. Seeing the patients at Laguna Honda reminded me that music connects people no matter who you are or where you are.”
For MusicianCorps, the partnership with Laguna Honda offers another opportunity to connect highly talented and invested musicians with opportunities to put their skills to the service of others. The patients at the hospital, dealing with a range of health challenges, represent so-called “hidden audiences” – groups who have limited access to high-quality music and art despite having a considerable need for the types of healing benefits that it offers. Based on the ongoing feedback being received, it is clear that musicians and patients alike are equally grateful for the opportunity to share in the music.
Performer Marya Stark comments, “It was such a sweet experience, fully enriching for any artist to share music with people who are very much impacted by it.”
To learn more about opportunities to volunteer with MusicianCorps, please visit our volunteer page.