Meet Phil Walton, Our Featured Volunteer from Chicago!

Get to know our volunteers!

Do you volunteer at a specific hospital? Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

How long have you been volunteering with Musicians On Call?  Around 9 months

Are you a Volunteer Guide or Volunteer Musician?  Guide

What is your occupation outside of MOC? “I work as a tax consultant for Deloitte and am also part owner of an online music magazine,

What is your story? What connects you with music and why do you volunteer with MOC?I’m originally from the UK but my wife and I moved to Chicago around 7 years ago for my job. It was meant to be for 2 years but we fell in love with the city and made it our new home. Music has been a huge part of my life since I was a young kid. My granddad was a musician in the Royal Marines Military band and when he left the military, he played stand up bass and electric bass for a number of bands in venues all over Sunderland (my hometown). I always wanted to play and started playing the trumpet in brass bands and Orchestra at school when I was about 7 or 8. I also started playing my granddad’s bass and then guitar in various groups throughout my childhood and twenties. As work took more of my time in my late twenties thirties I, unfortunately, stopped playing in groups but there was always a guitar (then guitars…..) in the house. Picking one up and playing was (and remains) a sure-fire way to take my mind of anything that is worrying me.

My wife is a live music photographer and since we’ve been in Chicago I will often help write reviews and do interviews with musicians for the various websites she has works for. Going to see live music and being around musicians is, therefore, a massive part of our lives. Throughout my life I’ve been consistently amazed at the effect music (live or recorded) can have on me and others. The feeling of being at a venue with a band on stage and everyone in it together is honestly like no other. The number of times I’ve been stressed because of things going on in my life or in the world around me and have been lifted out of that mood by a live show (or the right record) are too many to recall. As soon as I found MOC online, I knew I wanted to volunteer because it really fit with my view of the impact music can have on people’s lives. Bringing a live music experience to people who are going through a tough time really is a fantastic thing to do.

Has your life changed because of your experience with MOC?  “Yes – witnessing the courage of the young patients at Lurie and the dedication of the people who look after them has honestly changed my perspective. Being able to play a small part in, hopefully, brightening their day a little is a privelege.

What is your favorite #MOCmoment? When I recently escorted Keenan Kamae (an amazing Ukulele playing Hawaiian musician) we called in on a patient who had been through some debilitating treatment and really wasn’t feeling well at all when we arrived. Despite that, she still asked to hear some music. Keenan played and she smiled throughout the song. As we left, her mum said she wanted to thank us for making her daughter smile for the first time in the last couple of days. It summed up the whole point of MOC to me…..

Do you want to help us deliver the healing power of music? Apply to volunteer as a guide or a musician today!