While laughter may very well be the best medicine, many would likely argue that music isn’t far behind. The great Sufi Master, Hazrat Inayat Khan, wrote in Mysticism of Sound about how sound and music can permeate the entire being in such a way that “the physical body recuperates and becomes charged with new magnetism.”
It is that very magnetism and sense of greater peace that drives the amazing non-for-profit, Musicians on Call. The organization delivers the healing power of music by bringing famous musicians for live, in-room performances to the bedsides of sick children who are undergoing treatment or otherwise unable to leave the hospital.
Daniella Torres, has been a Guide for MOC in the New York and Los Angeles branches for the last five years, and currently coordinates musician visits for the organization’s first program at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. Her husband, Kenli Mattus, is the founding musician of the organization. “Juanes, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, John Mayer, Maroon5, Black Eyed Peas and many more have been involved. Justin Bieber just donated $75,000 and Gavin DeGraw has come to the hospital several times and every time he comes, he stays for hours. He loves Musicians On Call. Also Norah Jones has been a supporter of MOC even before she was famous. She actually used to rehearse at our apartment with my husband before they played at the hospital.”
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SHIFTING THE FOCUS
“The first time I volunteered it was in a New York hospital for kids with cancer. The first kid we played for was a little girl who was crying. Her mother had her in her arms and allowed us to come in the room. When the musician started playing the guitar and singing, the little girl’s eyes stopped tearing and began to shine. I was a witness to a moving and heartbreaking scene,” Torres recaps. “‘How can I not cry?’ I thought. I realized I wouldn’t be much of a volunteer if I couldn’t contain my tears. All of a sudden I heard a voice in my head: ‘It’s not about you.’ In that moment, my focus shifted away from my thoughts of poor me, it hurts to see this. I got out of myself and focused on the people around me. After that, every visit became a wonderful, non-judgmental experience. I was there for one reason: to bring music and joy to the patients, not to bring more sadness. I tapped into an amazing strength I never knew I had. Every week I looked forward to going to the hospital and getting my doses of energy that would last until I went again.”
SOFTENING THE MOMENT
As Torres explains, “when you bring music into a solemn room full of doctors and diagnoses, first, it distracts the patient, the family and even the nurses. It makes them forget problems in that moment. When you’re in the room experiencing that, and you see the shift from tension to openness, a light comes into the room and you can’t help but accept that you’re witnessing healing…I believe everyone in the room benefits, not only patients.”
If you are interested in volunteering, you can do so as a guide escorting musicians through the hospital and the rooms, asking patients if they’d like to hear music. If you’re a musician you can get involved too. Or you can donate money so MOC can expand the visits to more hospitals.
Find more information at Musicians On Call.