Visiting Musicians


Client: Rose Sutz (my mother), Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Category: Creation of new volunteer organization

While I was acting as my mother’s caregiver after she suffered a stroke, she required both physical and occupational rehabilitation.

As part of this effort, and due to an embarrassing physical aspect of her condition, I offered to create a volunteering opportunity for her, designed with her mobility and functional limitations in mind. The question was: What kind of opportunity would she be most interested in, and passionate about?

The career-planning book What Color Is Your Parachute? was extremely valuable to me in designing my career, so I had my mother go through the book and do all the exercises, mentally replacing each mention of a “job” or “career” with “volunteering opportunity.” Through these exercises, we discovered that she was most passionate about two things: children and music.  (At right: Rose in November 1996, 6 months before her passing.)

Based on this information, I conceived of “Visiting Musicians,” an organization that would ask local musicians, such as guitarists, pianists and flutists to donate a few hours a month to play for and with seriously- and terminally-ill children at the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, the largest pediatric hospital in south Florida. (Note: This later became part of the regimen of available therapies for kids at JDCH.)

As the children at this hospital were gravely ill, and the prospect of exposing themselves to such a scenario initially turned off some musicians, I felt I had to create an exceptionally bright, positive logo for this application, that would visually depict the concept, as well as the intrinsic “warm fuzzies” that volunteers might derive from participating in it.

Below is the promotional flyer that I created, and distributed to South Florida music stores, entertainment venues, etc.:


Although she was able to arrange for several “Visiting Musicians” to play for and with children (see letter below), Rose ultimately did not have the entrepreneurial zeal or requisite energy to operate such an adventurous organization.  That’s OK, though, because she derived a lot of pleasure from it, and got a real kick out of us working together to create it. The sessions she was able to arrange are among my most endearing memories, and I know the children and their families really enjoyed them, as well.

A letter from Steve Grenier, a pro guitarist whom Rose recruited

My time spent with Visiting Musicians was short.  It was, however, an experience that will stay with me forever.

In 1995, I responded to a flyer like the one above that I saw at a music store with which I was affiliated in South Florida.

Rose asked me to volunteer at the Joe DiMaggio Children Hospital in Miami. She told me about the Cancer Unit, and that there were some wonderful children there who were diagnosed as terminal.

The first day I arrived, I was quickly shown around the ward. I was going from room to room and I could see a few volunteers, who looked as though they were experienced with this sort of thing. I was not.

The next thing I knew, I was playing guitar for a sweet little girl who was nearly un- responsive when being spoken to by her doctor. As I started playing for her at her bedside, she gently rolled her head over and watched my hands as a smile came over her face. I will never forget her, because she was the first of many children that I felt so much for.  For me, she was the start of what I remember as a time of pure giving. Sharing my gift with those less fortunate. She was a wonderful person who helped me more than I her. She opened my eyes to what I could give so easily where it was needed so much.

Then, there was a little boy, who again, I will never forget. Let me start by painting the scenario in his room.

As I walked in with my instrument, I felt a bit uncomfortable. There were a couple doctors, a priest, and some family members. The parents were very grief stricken. There was no shortage of tears at this time. I estimate the age of the boy to be about 11 yrs old. I worked my way through the room and began to talk with the young man, who surprisingly was very upbeat, awake and alert. He seemed as though he could jump out of bed at any minute and toss the ball around with his father.

I began to play some blues riffs on my guitar and the little guy loved it. I had no idea he was a keyboard student before he fell ill. I think it was an aunt who left the room to grab a portable keyboard. She gave it to him and, to my astonishment, he began to play along! I wish I could put into words the look on everybody’s face as they all watched this mini concert unfolding at his bedside. One by one, people began to leave the room so he could have some time alone with his music. This was a very impressionable moment for me, because I saw what Visiting Musicians could do, not only for the children, but what it had given to the family and myself, as well.


Steve Grenier

Main Street Music Lessons
134 Main Street
Auburn, ME. 04210



Articles about music therapy in hospital settings

American Cancer Society study on the therapeutic benefits of music therapy

At Vanderbilt University Children’s Hospital

At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital






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