Amid the swarm of kids eager to sing and play, music therapist Mike Mahoney, MA, MT-BC, creates a circle of chairs in the Alex Scott Day Hospital waiting room.
He greets kids like old friends: “Hi! It’s so good to see you.” “You’re getting big.” He worked with many of them when they were inpatients, and his music group is a treat when they return for checkups.
Mahoney offers up instruments from his cart: maracas, a drum, a keyboard. When the kids have made their selections, he strums his guitar and croons a “Hello” warm-up song.
As Mahoney plays and calls out instructions (“Everyone make some sound!”), kids follow along, some shyly, others enthusiastically. And like magic, music happens.
Soon, this impromptu band is playing favorites like “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”
Thea, 6, wanders over with her walker. Mahoney knows her and says “Hi” without missing a beat.
“Check out my brand-new walker!” she says. Mike expresses his approval. She rolls the wheels of her walker around to the rhythm — dancing, Thea-style.
“I know! Since I got a brand-new walker, let’s sing a song about walkers,” she suggests.
“Good idea. I’m in,” Mahoney says.
A moment later he improvises a new song just for her: “Walking about /My brand-new walker/I can walk anywhere …”
Thea smiles and dances, the other kids pound their drums and piano keys and xylophone.