'See their eyes light up:' Non-profit group brings comfort to Chicago hospitals through live music

CHICAGO (WLS) -- An award-winning group of talented musicians is sharing the healing power of music in hospitals around Chicago.

Sharing Notes is a non-profit group from Chicago College of Performing Arts based at Roosevelt University. For about eight years, they've used their melodic efforts to bring joy to patients and families at facilities like LaRabida Children's Hospital, Prentice Women's Hospital, and Lurie Children's Hospital.

"We have volunteers who come from Chicago College of Performing Arts, DePaul School, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Chicago Symphony, said "Sharing Notes" volunteer Michael Schneider. "We also have a really fantastic group of Irish musicians who come and perform for us, guitars, fiddle and singing. Really throughout all of Chicago."

Takiya, a patient at La Rabida, felt like an angel with her own personal "Halo," while listening to Sharing Notes volunteers perform her favorite Beyoncé hit.

"We perform for patients in their rooms and throughout the halls," Schneider said. "We are trying to bring some distraction therapy and some chance to make relationships with patients through our live music."

ABC7Chicago followed Schneider as he played the violin, while Lauren played the harp, and Margaret handled the vocals during one of their visits. The group size varies from trip to trip, but medical experts here say any live music makes a big difference.

"I think anything that we can do to lower that stress level overall and any kind of calming effect it can have on kids, it shows up in the physiology of some of the conditions we see," said Dr. Parag Shah, with La Rabida Pediatrics.

Apparently this music to the ears, does wonders for the soul.

"You see the kids' eyes light up or you see a heart race or lights start to move when people start reacting," Schneider said. "Often they will just stare and you see their eyes light up, it's beautiful. I love playing."

About 40 musicians volunteer with "Sharing Notes." They perform for some 4,500 patients every year.

Last month the group won a prestigious award from the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra for they say is "spreading widely the beauty of music beyond the concert hall."

For more information about "Sharing Notes," visit www.sharing-notes.org.
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