Since the fall of 2014, I've had the honor of working for the Stanford Hospital Music Program, where I play solo classical guitar music for patients and their families. As a performer, there's nothing more rewarding than bringing music directly to the people who need it most.
It's challenging work; shifts are four hours long (that's a long time to perform solo), and there are a lot of patients to visit. You never know beforehand what condition the patient will be in, nor what kind of music they might like. I learned fairly quickly which tunes are most consistently popular, and which ones work well in a wide variety situations. I take requests, too, if I happen to know the tune. I've had patients that tested my knowledge of the entire classic rock canon (my wheelhouse), and others that requested obscure French chansons (not my wheelhouse).
Whatever happens, I try my best to engage the patient in a positive way, and leave them feeling a little better than they did before I came in. The gratitude some of them (and their families) display is just amazing. Life in a hospital—even a nice one like Stanford—is almost inevitably uncomfortable, restrictive, and dull. In that environment, music is an oasis.
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