During a go-round at the callback for an a cappella group, I explained that I hoped to create the undergrad major of music therapy. I didn’t get into the group, but I did make a pretty pivotal relationship. Anna #1 (as I affectionately called her) was then the assistant music director of the group, with multiple scholarships and achievements in both science and music, impressive at any age, but particularly for a third year undergrad. I was intrigued when I got an email from her a few weeks after my rejection from the a cappella group and, frankly, pretty floored that she remembered me.
Anna was a premed who had a passion for music. She envisioned a volunteer group of musicians who bring their talent into the hospital, to provide music at patients’ bedsides, and she wanted me to be a leader in its creation. Musicians on Call, from my perspective, developed into a success, with hundreds of members each providing many hours of music in the lobby, hospital floors, and the intensive care units. It branched out to other locations and even other universities. It continues today.
The funny thing is, I was going to go into music therapy, or maybe to get a higher degree in ethnomusicology. Yet my own experience playing the cello in the surgical trauma intensive care unit was a significant influence in my decision to pursue medicine as a profession. Anna was going to be a doctor, and a phenomenal one at that. I have no doubt that she would have gotten her pick of the top medical schools. But the heart wants what the heart (and mind?) wants. Every time someone comments positively on my decision to switch career paths, I think of Anna who, after graduation, decided that she wanted to pursue a career in music therapy. Given her impressive track record in science at the university and beyond, I think her decision was much more deliberate, provocative, and brave.
I regret that we have lost touch over the years, but I still think of Anna often. And I appreciate her role in helping me realize my calling in life. Every now and then I learn of an update from or about her. It was a tremendous joy to actually HEAR her in the video above. “Sincere” is the word that first comes to mind when I hear her sing. The video gave me chills! Enjoy!