I’m Harold Sexton, a member of the Sacramento Guitar Society (SGS). While my career job at AT&T has been almost 42 years long, and still going, my real passion is playing the guitar. I started studying Classical Guitar about the same time I started my job at AT&T in 1972. My wife and I raised 7 children, but over all those years, I never gave up on the idea that I might do something more fulfilling with my music than just playing for myself.
So, over the years, I’ve discovered ways for an amateur part-time musician, like myself, to share my music. One of the most rewarding and important things that I do with my guitar is volunteer in the Kaiser Healing Music Program. The program was started in late June, 2008 and I’ve been involved since December, 2008.
Music has the power to change the mood of a hospital patient’s family and friends, as well as hospital staff members. So, the Kaiser Healing Music Program is not only for hospital patients and their visitors, but it’s also for hospital staff members. To know that you can change the mood and sometimes make the day for people that really need the calming relaxation of music is very heartwarming.
I would like to share an email that I received a while back from a Kaiser Sacramento Chaplain:
My colleague from South Sac, Chaplain Art, was at SAC to visit a patient, a fellow pastor to whom he is very close. Chaplain Art was tired and stressed and very worried about his friend. He was greeted, he said, by the nicest concierge, who offered to park his car. He walked into the lobby and heard music--our Healing Music volunteer, Harold Sexton, a classical guitarist, was playing Bach. Chaplain Art said he just sat down in the lobby to listen to the music and pray. He thanked the musician profusely. [and I can attest to that – I remember him well] He then went to visit his friend in ICU who had received the most expert care possible from our neuro surgery team and was alert and recovering, and bragging on the compassionate care he was receiving from our nurses. Chaplain Art called to tell me that, if I may paraphrase, Sacramento Medical Center rocks!
Thanks for everyone who is offering the best care, every patient (and visitor) every time!"
Another Experience: I was playing the song “Over the Rainbow”, and just as I finished, a hospital visitor that had been listening to my music intently came over to talk. She was waiting for her daughter in surgery and told me that the guitar music was just the medicine she needed to relax on a very stressful day. She told me that she had lost a daughter about a year previously, and “Over the Rainbow” was that daughter’s favorite song. Teary eyed, she said that she could feel her daughter there in the room with us enjoying every note of the music. She thanked me for the experience.
These are just a couple of examples showing the power of music. Hardly a session goes by without someone expressing their appreciation for the live music.
You don’t have to be a professional or virtuoso musician to play in the program. If you can produce pleasant, relaxing, calming music, you are a good candidate.
Besides the reward of a warm heart, you will get requests for guitar lessons and gigs. While hospital volunteer musicians cannot hand out business cards or solicit business while playing, there is a process for handling those inquiries.
It’s also a great place to try out some of your newer music in public for the first time, or to reinforce your memorized music; as long as the music is calming and relaxing. It’s very low pressure, but for me, it’s just enough performance feel to be developmental.
The screening process is relatively painless. You basically take a TB test and give blood to test for childhood disease immunity. The training and mandatory coverage required for all Kaiser Hospital volunteer positions is also (relatively) painless. Security will take a photo of you for a Kaiser Hospital Volunteer ID badge.
There are volunteer opportunities at Kaiser Medical Center in both Roseville and Sacramento. Kaiser also hosts internships for Music Practitioners (www.mhtp.org). If you are interested in volunteering, please contact:
Joy Sponseller, CMP
Coordinator, Healing Music Program
Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center
(916) 973-7696 messages
Aileen Kelley, MA, CMP
Coordinator, Healing Music Program
Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center
(916) 784-4191 messages