As a full-time musician, I have always maintained a number of regular part-time gigs. One of the most rewarding has been a morning solo violin gig (perfect for musicians!) once a week at a local hospital for a couple hours. I am part of their professional Arts and Entertainment program; the administration believes that music makes everyone feel better. It makes me feel better too! They brought me back in October 2020 after 6 months of no live music due to the pandemic.
Every time I am there I am reminded of the power of live music in eliciting feelings and response. These folks are ill, they do not want to be there. Sometimes they cry when a song brings up memories, but most often they are smiling when I leave the room or area, distracted from whatever caused them to be admitted, happy to have listened to and watched me. The doctors and staff also have positive reactions.
As the pandemic recedes, I know I’ll be able to walk into patients’ rooms again, stand at their bedside and start by saying, “I play all kinds of music – Irish, Italian, Jewish, Polish, Broadway, classical, rock ‘n roll, the old songs, country and fiddle tunes – what do you like?” Sometimes there’s a TV on; I tell them I am better than the TV and suggest they press the mute button. Sometimes the patient chooses, or a visiting family member or nurse guides me, but usually it’s up to me to decide what to play.
What the great job I have to be a musician! I’m grateful I learned to play by ear, can toss off a tune and can add some ease and joy to these peoples lives.