Power of One: Volunteers help heal with music
Published Sunday, December 16, 2012 5:07PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 16, 2012 5:08PM EST
Barbara Baker and Ronaldo Soriano Trono have struck a positive chord with the patients on the 16th floor of the Montreal General Hospital.
Geriatric patients visit them there once a week to listen to the pair perform, something they’ve been doing once a week for well over a decade.
The duo never disappoint.
“They're here to entertain and to provide one hour of simple joy for our patients,” said Tammy Letts, a geriatric recreational therapist.
Patient Mary Esterson said she loves the show tunes and show of generosity.
“I think she's great, I think she's absolutely great and I think he is wonderful too,” she said.
Barbara began playing for patients at the hospital 18 years ago.
“I know that the patients enjoy it but it gives me a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction,” said the volunteer musician.
After Ronaldo sang along at a Christmas party for volunteers, Barbara was so impressed she asked him to join her each week.
“So we've been doing it 12 years together. I met him after I'd been here for six years on my own. I think we do pretty well together,” she said.
What these two consider an act of kindness is actually music therapy. Studies show it has real physiological benefits.
“We find that it's just infectious. It just makes the patients feel so much better, so from what Ronaldo and Barbara started many, many years ago, it's just starting to take off a little bit everywhere in the hospital, said Rita Giulione, the volunteer manager of the Montreal General.
For Barbara and Ronaldo, the true joy is watching the patients respond.
“There was another patient who never could speak, but started to sing - couldn't speak but could sing! - that happened once so it's pretty incredible,” said Barbara.
“It's something really magical that you could… bring to a patient. I feel great just realizing that,” Ronald chimed in.
After 12 years together, these passionate volunteers plan to keep the music playing, to the delight of patients and staff.
“I think their singer is terrific and I think the pianist is terrific,” said patient Larry Levi. “And to combine the two together is great hope.”
Barbara Baker and Ronaldo Soriano Trono perform in the geriatric ward of the Montreal General Hospital once per week.