Musicians On Call
Perhaps the most rewarding gig playing music is one that pays nothing at all. Last year I began volunteering with Musicians On Call which sends musicians into hospitals to play for patients. From the ICU to oncology to general care, the musical medicine is administered by the bedside of the sick. Often this includes their families standing vigil, whose worried spirits are just as in need of nursing.
Any age could be in that hospital bed, as afflictions don't wait for life to grow-up. My regular call is to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and St. Christopher's Hospital for Children where every visit requires a deep gulp at the sight of twinkling young eyes. They are closer to the beginning than the end, yet already facing every kind of illness. There's a bit of whiplash going room to room, where one kid will be fighting a tortuous battle with mortality, then the next will only be getting over a minor injury. From a darkened path to a lightened one in a couple steps, a distance so small separating the lucky flips of the cosmic coin. Whatever condition their bodies are in, the music tries to offer a reprieve from the sounds of beeping medical equipment.