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Community Spotlight: WXPN Musicians On Call

Helen Leicht shares one of her favorite moments.
Mutlu performs for a patient with the WXPN Musicians On Call program. | Provided
Mutlu performs for a patient with the WXPN Musicians On Call program. Provided

Musicians On Call is on a mission to heal through the power of music. While the organization began in New York City, the member-supported radio service of University of Pennsylvania, WXPN, forged a partnership to extend the program to the Philadelphia region in 2004. Since then, over 105,000 patients have benefitted from the Musicians On Call program, which is coordinated by assistant program director and midday host at WXPN, Helen Leicht.

Both live music and recorded music is brought to the bedsides of patients at eight area hospitals and healthcare facilities, including The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Christiana Care Health System’s Wilmington Hospital and Bryn Mawr Hospital.

In addition to the musicians who perform for patients, trained non-musical volunteer guides are also needed to escort the volunteer musicians through the facility.

The bedside performance programs normally take place on weeknights and there are currently 70 volunteer musicians and volunteer guides participating in the WXPN Musicians On Call program.

“We have so many talented musicians and wonderful volunteers who truly appreciate the opportunity to give back," Leicht says.

Leicht recounts a special musician-patient moment when Amos Lee and Mutlu performed for veterans at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.

“Of the many times I’ve witnessed the reactions of patients and their families, I will always remember watching Amos Lee and Mutlu visit a veteran at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center — who we were told rarely welcomed anyone into his room,” she recalls. “They asked him if he wanted to hear a song. He nodded. They sang to him and within a few minutes he was humming along. When Amos and Mutlu finished their song they asked him if he wanted to sing. He did! They played guitar and sang the blues with the vet taking the lead.  The representative from the VA center and I cried as we witnessed the healing power of music.”

If you’d like to get involved with the WXPN Musicians On Call program, visit: www.xpn.org/about-xpn/moc.