Meet Kristen Cook, our featured volunteer from Los Angeles!
Get to know our volunteers!
Do you volunteer at a specific hospital? I’ve volunteered at 4 hospitals in the area, including Mattel Children’s, UCLA Santa Monica, City of Hope and Children’s Hospital Orange County at Seacrest Studios.
How long have you been volunteering with Musicians On Call? 4 years
Are you a Volunteer Guide or Volunteer Musician? Musician
What is your favorite song to play for patients? I love playing an original of mine called, Fruit Fight. It’s about how the different qualities of fruits can come together to make a really “groovy smoothy”. Mainly I like playing it because it is upbeat, has some silly lyrics to follow along with, and patients love to shout out the anthem chorus “We may all be different, It’s Okay!”
Have you ever been part of an impromptu jam session with patients or family in a hospital room? Yes! We’ve often had moments where families are encouraging their loved one to enjoy letting go and enjoying some music. We’ve made up lyrics on the spot based on what’s happening in the room. One particular instance I can recall, we made a song about UCLA basketball which proved my lack of knowledge of the sport! It was pretty funny.
Do you perform anywhere else besides with MOC? I perform in many different venues from books stores to schools, outdoor festivals, comedy theaters and more.
What is your occupation outside of MOC? Self Employed Musician and Music Teacher
Do you have any hidden talents? My family taught me the strangest technique of holding air in your cheeks while using your lips to continue speaking. The result is a cabbage patch pucker face with a really whacky sounding voice. So weird!
What is your story? What connects you with music and why do you volunteer with MOC? I was raised to believe that life isn’t fully complete unless you’re helping others in some way. Whether you’re serving your community in a kitchen or food bank, donating blankets to an animal shelter or doing massively impactful volunteer work on a global scale, I think it’s what each person brings to the planet that makes us all one. Volunteering through Musicians on Call and sharing my music is my way of giving. We all need to be heard, to have joyful moments, and to connect to others.
What makes MOC different from your other volunteer experiences? MOC is such a wonderful experience for everyone involved. I truly enjoy how structured and organized the program is run, while having the feeling of being completely relaxed and laid back. We walk the halls and people get to choose whether they’d like us to visit with them. I think it’s an important part of the program to graciously accept a patient who declines our song that day. They don’t have many opportunities to choose what happens around them, and if saying “No, thank you.” gives them a feeling of empowerment, then we’ve already contributed in some way. On the flip side, saying “Yes!” is when the magic happens, and our songs ring pleasantly through the space.
Has your life changed because of your experience with MOC? Absolutely. I’ve grown through seeing others heal. I’ve become stronger and have felt the ability to keep smiling even when things are seemingly crumbling, while staying authentic to the reality of my emotions. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of strangers and believe music connects us so quickly that a lot can happen with one song!
What is your favorite #MOCmoment? There have been SO many, but I’ll never forget the first time I went into Mattel Children’s with Kenli (Musicians On Call’s longest running volunteer) and Daniela (Manager of West Coast Music Programs). I got to visit the playroom where a little girl was hanging out. We immediately connected through our love for princesses and I was serenaded by her sweet voice (and thoroughly accurate lyric knowledge!) We sang and twirled and I had to hold back tears of both joy and sadness for her. She was in such peace, and I felt a strength from her that is indescribable and is still with me today.