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Teen Impact: Finalist #9

Posted: 01/27/2012 8:03 am

This blog post was submitted as an entry in the Teen Impact contest and awarded as a Finalist.

Hello! We are Esha and Varun Bansal, 14 and 16-year-old siblings from Brevard County, Florida. While our grandmother was fighting cancer some years ago, we entertained her by playing music. She was overjoyed with our music; she said it made her feel better and it was "better than the therapy dog!" Encouraged by her improvements in mood and health, we researched music therapy, the use of music to aid healing. After learning that there were no consistent music therapy services available in our community, we founded "MusicMDs" in 2009, a volunteer organization of youth musicians using their time and talent to create an atmosphere enhancing patient healing in local healthcare institutions.

Patients, their families, and healthcare staff continued to appreciate our weekly performances, so we developed a prototype for other young musicians to join MusicMDs and became affiliated with our local youth orchestra. 12 more young musicians have recently begun performing at the hospital! The MusicMDs have volunteered over 750 hours over the last two and a half years and entertained thousands of patients, families, and healthcare staff!

The following quotes are from patients, families, and staff that the MusicMDs have interacted with:

  • "Music is a perfect distraction. While you played for me, I didn't feel any pain."- Patient
  • "This is the best thing that's happened to me in the nine days I've been here." -Patient
  • "Your music is great -- it calms everybody down, keeps them happy... You bring happiness to people in a not-so-happy place." -Family Member
  • "This is the best birthday gift my husband has ever had- a private recital!" -Family Member

Here's some of what we've done:

  • Visited patients at Holmes Regional Medical Center over 50 times, providing complimentary music for hospital patients, families, and staff
  • Interacted one-on-one with patients to promote feelings of care and recovery, improve mood, and bring holiday/birthday celebrations to sick people
  • Performed for staff to provide energy/excitement to routine work, thus increasing the quality of care and overall workplace atmosphere
  • Affiliated with Brevard Symphony Youth Orchestra and trained 12 additional young musicians to become MusicMDs, who are now also performing at the hospital
  • Recognized a as top three finalist for 2011 Florida Today Volunteer of the Year Award
  • Featured in "Holmes Heroes" in August 14, 2011 edition
  • Received Jefferson Award for Leadership for founding a student music-healing group
  • Recognized as the only youth music volunteer group serving health care institutions locally, filling a void in the patient experience with a treatment aspect that was previously unavailable in our community
  • Also performed in assisted living facilities since 2009 to uplift the elderly and bring joy to residents through free concerts

Example of our impact:

The MusicMDs' experiences at the hospital have been gratifying and unforgettable. For example, on July 11, 2011, we performed in a wedding on the fifth floor of Holmes Regional Medical Center. The patient's son was getting married, but she was too ill to attend his wedding, so a small hospital ceremony was arranged in the waiting room. We played wedding violin duets. The service was short, decorations make-do, and the small room crowded, but nothing dimmed the patient's utter joy with the surprise of live musicians! She hugged us and thanked us profusely. Words cannot do justice to her tearful happiness that compelled her to treat us like family.
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We have made our community a better place by serving the sick, elderly, children, youth, adults, patients, families and healthcare staff with a previously unavailable service. By spreading our music throughout the community, we have influenced other young musicians to join the MusicMDs and receive the indescribable gratification from volunteering. The MusicMDs program has impacted the community at all levels with the worthy cause of music therapy, the enormous benefits of which have been recognized by researchers.

We believe we deserve the Huffington Post Teen Impact award. If recognized, our work will become visible to many more young people. We'd like to inspire other young musicians to join the MusicMDs music-service movement. Our goal is to make MusicMDs an independent, self-sustaining entity encompassing many orchestras/music programs spreading joy, happiness, and care to the sick and recovering population through music.