Calling All Musicians: Do What You Love, Maybe Save a Life (NBD)

Get ready for your daily dose of joy: seriously, these videos have us smiling like idiots, and big name celebs like Nick Jonas and Kelly Clarkson seem to feel the exact same way.  These aren’t your standard live music videos, though.  No elaborate music venue, no lights and sound design. Instead, the place these videos were filmed are quite the opposite: typically sterile, badly lit, and not where you’d tend to bring the party.  For the residents of this hospital, though, these live music performances can brighten up a treatment room in a major way; and if you love to play music, you can get in on this little slice of joy yourself.

While Musicians On Call was founded in New York in the 90s, it’s since spread its creative concert model to hospitals in 20 cities across the US.  (Which is excellent, because there’s a good chance there’s a location near you, and they’re constantly accepting new artist partners.)  This means there are now at least 20 times the kids who get to sing along to Frozen in their rooms, which, if you ask us, is a basic right of childhood.  

Nick Jonas performs at hospital, poses with patient
Pop superstar Nick Jonas visits a patient’s room

Beyond the obvious smiles, singing, and dancing that these performances bring, the actual healing benefits reach beyond what you may already expect.  According to Time, strategic exposure to music can “improve blood flow […] lower your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol and ease pain.”  Even more impressively, hearing music “before an operation can even improve post-surgery outcomes.”  The psychology around these outcomes seems to break down to a pretty simple point: music has a pretty universal power to make us feel more optimistic and complete, which relieves stress, boosts energy, and helps the body function a little better.  
Given we’re all about mutual benefit (i.e. doing good and feeling good), you might not be surprised to find out playing music is also one of the most beneficial things to do for your own long-term health.  According to UPenn Medicine, playing an instrument is a “total workout for your brain,” and can majorly reduce memory loss as well as boost cognitive function.  Healthier kids, sharper musicians, and huge smiles for everyone involved. If you play music, this one is basically a no-brainer.

Mental health, brain image
Both listening to and playing music have huge mental health benefits, which tie directly back into physical well-being

Get started now:

You saw the videos, right? So what are you waiting for?  Volunteering as a musician is a super easy process – just fill out an application and have a phone interview – which you can start right here.  For the less musically inclined, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in-hospital escorting the musicians from room-to-room.  Vicarious joy guaranteed. If you need even more motivation to get involved, the MOC website features some seriously uplifting testimonials.  A highlight is Katy’s story – a former spinal surgery patient who went on to perform as a Musician On Call herself.  According to the site, “she gave a few uke lessons to nurses in the hallway, signed an autograph and made a doctor into a new fan” while coming full-circle to bring joy to other resident patients.

Keith Urban plays his music for crowd of children
Country star Keith Urban brings a little joy to a group of patients and doctors

The moral of the story here is that you don’t necessarily have to join The Peace Corps to make a  difference and uplift children (and yourself) in a hugely positive way.  Boosting health and happiness in your community can be as simple as sharing what you love to do, and that’s our absolute favorite kind of impact.  

Spread the love