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Helping children with life-threatening illnesses find the joy in music that's created just for them.
My wife, who has been a laughter yoga teacher for more than a decade, was training a new client for certification a few months ago. She has trained scores of amazing individuals over the years, many of whom go on to visit hospitals or senior centers to bring some levity and hope to those who can use it. In this case, the woman she was training was a musician and happened to be blind. While I never met her student personally, I heard stories of her unending enthusiasm for life, along with her compassionate drive to help our planet by adding the sounds of music and laughter to a world threatened by disease, political turmoil and daily unrest.
But what stood out even more for me as a lifelong musician and five-year male breast cancer survivor, was the news that she wrote and donated songs for children with life-threatening diseases - very often cancer - that were customized for each child with personal facts, family names, hobbies and interests. These songs were recorded on music discs, placed in personalized books and delivered to children across the U.S.A.
The non-profit organization responsible for this gift of music and hope is called Songs of Love: a national group of caring individuals who create free, personalized, original songs to uplift children and teens currently facing tough medical, physical or emotional challenges. There is never a charge for this service and the identity and conditions of the children are confidential unless the family chooses to share their story.
I was immediately inspired to become a contributor to this program and decided that I would write music and lyrics for one child each month. I contacted the company and began the important and crucial process of auditioning not just my musical work, but my dedication and motivation for working with these often very sick children. Prospective contributors are screened carefully, and rightfully so, to insure that each child is treated with the utmost respect. Details of their diseases are never mentioned in their songs so when a songwriter receives personal information that the child can related to, such as favorite TV shows, family names, pets, interests, hobbies etc., we set to work creating something that fits their age group and interests.
I've had the pleasure of creating a number of songs so far this year and I keep a photo of each child next to my keyboards to remind me of how very precious every moment is for them - and for me. I work specifically with children aged one to twelve. As a sixty-nine year old guy with breast cancer I'm well aware that my life thus far has been a long and fortunate voyage. But as I look at the smiling faces of these kids and think up words and music for them, some of them with devastating illnesses, my cancer seems very small indeed.
And so with this ache in my breast but this song in my heart, I find a key, then a note, then a chord and finally a song which ultimately gets sent anonymously on its way out into a world that seems so unfair at times, and right into open arms of a child in need of healing.
If this sounds like "music to your ears", you can get involved or request a song for a child in need at Songs of Love.