Sweet notes echoed in the hallways and in the bedrooms. For a brief moment, he passed the chattering noises at the nurses’ station and the beeps of the machines.
“I like it – just to be a part of something bigger than me,” said Jose Smith, scratching his fingers on the strings of his harp.
For nearly 30 years, Smith carried his harp through the halls of Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. During this time, he serenaded the nurses, gave the staff a moment of peace, and soothed worried parents.
“It was so good that the music could provide such a release from chaos and stress,” said the retired teacher.
However, Smith’s greatest moments come when he can play for a child.
“A smile from a young patient, and then I can go on for a lot longer,” Smith said.
On Thursday, Smith stopped in the middle of a hallway to let 9-year-old Angel Garcia strum his harp.
“Many have never touched the harp,” Smith said with a smile. “If I can get them to strum, now they’ve had a new experience with a beautiful instrument. “
The harp briefly distracted Angel from leukemia which kept him inside Rady Children for over three months.
“It just made me a lot happier,” the boy said, smiling behind his mask.
“It’s like magic,” exclaimed RN Kim Brasseur, who eagerly awaits visits from Smith.
“It just makes them forget why they’re here in the first place,” Brasseur said. “It also brings peace. It brings peace, it brings joy.
A doctor once told Smith that music was also a step in the healing process.
“Patients will get better, but first they need to feel better, and music makes them feel better,” he said.
Smith plays several hours a week at Rady Children’s Hospital’s Healing Arts Program. He also occasionally walks the halls with his accordion or guitar.