My friend Ansel Barnum linked us up with a ‘music in the hospitals’ program called Musicians on Call, put together by WXPN radio in Philly. This particular gig was at CHOP – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – a large facility in South Philly. We were met and escorted by Newton, a ‘simulation technician’ at the hospital who guided us through the process.
Lots of sanitation, occasional ‘gowning’, asking permission of parents and a myriad of hallways, nurses, equipment, etc.
We started in the ER section with a variety of single kids with moms in small rooms. It was interesting to work with kids (and families) in a relative state of post-trauma with mostly mild physical incidents. The kids’ eyes would light up and, in several cases, join in on songs. I noticed some needed calm songs, some needed silly songs, some need familiar songs, and some just wanted something strong and rhythmic. But most of all, they needed love, and the music supplied that.
We then moved up to a more residential, less ER situation in the hospital. More kids (so we had to move more frequently), but wider family situations, with both parents, a grand parent, a few brothers, etc. Again, each room was different, with different needs, so figuring out songs on the fly was a paramount challenge.
Ansel tickled their brains with his wonderful harp, and I tried to create the communication in the room and their were amazing moments in every room. Intensive work, but incredible and immediate feedback to work with. It was like playing a different stage every ten minutes. I live for this.
Though we were playing for individual patients, it dawned on me later that we played for an exponentially larger audience of parents, families, nursing staff. Again, for the community. Cool.
We hit the open mike at Burlap and Bean but didn’t get to play (10:30 curfew) but I was impressed with a fine local music community in action.
A fine night in the Philly direction, for a change.