Keenan Kamae is one of many musicians performing in hospitals, senior and rehab facilities in the city. He's been playing his ukulele at patients' bedsides for the last two years.
"When I first moved here to Chicago 22 years ago to work for United, I always wanted to keep a part of Hawaii with me," Kamae said. "I called my mom and said, 'Mom! I need a ukulele!'"
Sheridan Brown, a music therapist at Lurie Children's Hospital, works with the group's volunteers to bring live music to patients' rooms.
"The joy that it brings in those little bursts of happiness that the families see in their patients," Brown said.
Kamae said patients' reactions often differ.
"Some of them get up and dance," Kamae said. "Some sing along. Some sit there mellow, just relaxed to the music."
Kamae said that he can always see a reaction, "in whatever small, simple way."
Kamae said he recently discovered how restorative music can be in his personal life.
"My father just passed away this past May. Little did I realize how much the healing power of music was going to heal me personally," he said.
Musicians On Call has been serving the Chicago area since 2018. The group works at Chicago Methodist Senior Services, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.
The program said that volunteers in Chicago have performed for more than 5,600 patients, families and caregivers so far.
For more information about the group, visit their website: https://www.musiciansoncall.org/