I was five years old when I started singing, and I was ten when I started taking guitar lessons. Music was my hobby. It didn’t define me or inspire me – it was a creative outlet, a form of self-expression. It wasn’t until I was fifteen that music truly changed me.
The summer after my sophomore year of high school my sister and I volunteered at the Hackerman-Patz House, a residential house in Baltimore for children undergoing limb-lengthening surgeries and therapies. That summer, we performed for the patients and wrote and recorded original songs for them – each patient received a specific song written in their honor to inspire them to face their challenges with strength. We called the program Music is Medicine.
Since its inception, Music is Medicine has grown into an organization that empowers young people to use music to make a difference. We’ve created chapters at schools nationwide, and this year we’re launching the Donate a Song project – a program that encourages celebrities to donate a song to a seriously ill child. Drew Seeley, an Emmy-nominated songwriter and Disney recording artist, has written and recorded an original song of inspiration for 13-year-old fan and cancer patient, Brooke. The song and music video will be released to the public to raise money for cancer research and to inspire patients and people everywhere. Read more about Drew’s participation in Donate a Song on Do Something’s blog.
A few weeks ago, I performed for the pediatric oncology patients at Johns Hopkins. In the playroom, one little girl sat with her mother. After I introduced myself, she glanced at me shyly, her face tilting downward and her eyes appearing blank and distant. I removed my guitar from its case and began to sing. After a few moments, I saw her beaming at me, and life filled her eyes. My heart warmed. I had managed to connect to her. To uplift her. To impact her. I’ll never forget that moment and others like it.
I am now 19 years old and a sophomore at Princeton University. Outside of academics, I devote most of my time to Music is Medicine. I am so grateful to have music in my life and to be able to use it to help children in need. My work with young patients has shaped me into the person I am today and the person I hope to become.
Working to grow Music is Medicine has taught me the importance of perseverance and the beauty of failure. Challenges teach you invaluable lessons and make you stronger. But more importantly, I’ve learned that each of us have the amazing ability to make an impact on the world, at any age. I will never forget the day I bought my first guitar nine years ago. Through Music is Medicine, I’ve managed to transform that guitar into a tool for social change. I hope that all people recognize their ability to use what they love to change people’s lives and, in doing so, to change the world.
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Check out Like a Boss’s exclusive interview with Leora, where she shares her secrets of success, talks about why she thinks failing is a good thing, explains how she juggles college, friends, and her work with Music is Medicine, and offers advice for teen girls who want to follow in her footsteps!
Want to stay in the loop on all of Leora’s ventures? Here’s where you can connect:
- Music is Medicine YouTube channel
- Music is Medicine website
- Music is Medicine’s Facebook Page
- Music is Medicine’s Twitter Feed
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