At hospitals across the U.S., it is not uncommon to hear the strains of an acoustic guitar or the sound of singing in the hallways. Vanderbilt Children’s hospital in Nashville, Tenn. Is one such hospital and it is because the healing power of music is being put to good use there.
Musicians on Call, a group dedicated to bringing music to patients’ bedsides, provides a break from the monotony of a hospital stay but it is also much more than that.
Everyone within earshot of the music is touched, patients, families, staff, even the volunteers themselves. Bedridden patients often, smile, sing along or even dance in their beds.
The program currently provides its services in hospitals in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Nashville, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Most participants are local musicians but a few celebrity musicians have heard the call to service, too.
Darius Rucker, the one-time frontman for Hootie and the Blowfish is one of the group’s volunteers. Rucker is now enjoying a solo career as a country music singer. He describes singing for sick children confined to the hospital as an emotional experience.
No matter how difficult it is at times, Rucker continues because he knows it helps the kids. He says sometimes, he has to take a moment after leaving a child’s room so he doesn’t go into the next room crying.
Leslie Faerstein, the executive director of Musicians on Call say the music has physiological benefits for the patients. She says medical professionals have noted reduced stress, lower blood pressure and even pain control as a result of the performances. Needless to say, the music also provides a much-needed morale boost for patients, family and staff.
Faerstein says once a musician has participated in the program and seen firsthand what it can do; they realize how incredible the experience is for the patient and themselves.
According to Rucker, once you’ve done it, it’s amazing and you can’t say no when you’re asked again.