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Tim's Travels: Musician on a Mission

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

For many people, going to the hospital isn't their idea of a good time. To help ease anxiety, one local facility is offering a special program to comfort their patients.

“It's an easy,calming, peaceful type of thing,” said Janice Rhodes.

Walking into UW hospital...

“And it was just relaxing and soothing,” said Susan Koessler.

Music fills the air.

“And I looked up in the atrium and I thought where is this beautiful music coming from,”

The source of the sound? 86-year-old John Steffan.

“We (musicians) don't like to practice all the time, we like to perform and this is an outlet for me to perform,” said Steffan

The World War II vet volunteers playing the piano here twice a week.

“My fingers are going as fast as they can and at my age I'm lucky to have them go at all,” he laughed.

He's hoping this music helps put people at ease when visiting the doctor.

“My style is one of what I call mood music,”

“Ii think John is wonderful!”

Rhodes has been coming to UW for doctor's appointments for several months. She always wondered where is this music coming from? Today, she found out.

“There is something about music helping to ground oneself,”

“And I think it's so calming, especially for someone who might be apprehensive,” added Koessler. “This is the perfect setting for it,”

Koessler is accompanying her friend Janice to the hospital. She was surprised it was a person, not a recording, making the music.

“Low and behold, here is this gentleman playing the piano and I thought oh, how in enchanting!”

Rhodes says more people should take the time to appreciate beauty.

“Our lives today are rush, rush, rush,” she said. “We need more moments like this,”

The music may be for everyone else, but for John, it's therapy as well.

“I've never left here without a nice feeling,” said Steffan. “It makes me feel very warm and it's all worthwhile,”

John has been playing at the hospital for eight years. He says he taught himself to play the piano 15 years ago when he was 71 years old.

The hospital has a whole program with many other volunteers who do the same thing as John

If you're interested in getting involved, contact Sarah Grimes at SGrimes@uwhealth.org


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