Picture of MOC Volunteer Keenan Kamae

Sharing the Roots of Music in the Moment

The story and experience of MOC Volunteer Musician Keenan Kamae sharing his musical roots at the bedsides of patients.

Musicians On Call (MOC) brings together volunteers, hospital staff, and musicians to provide an essential healing experience for hospitalized patients. The blend of connection and emotion come together with creativity as the musicians who perform for patients are forever impacted by their honest and heartfelt reactions. 

Such is the case with MOC Volunteer Musician and Hawaii-native Keenan Kamae, whose MOC efforts are based in Chicago, IL. Keenan’s involvement in music has already extended over 20 years, as his introduction stemmed from an adoration for playing the ‘ukulele in a local Hawaiian band before moving to Chicago. 

It was in 2017 that Keenan discovered Musicians On Call while studying to become a healthcare worker and was instantly attracted to combining the organization’s healthcare mission with his musical talent. “I had heard about MOC through social media while I was in nursing school and loved the idea of playing music at the bedsides of patients,” said Keenan. “Being able to perform with MOC is the most fulfilling volunteer opportunity that combined my two passions which is caring for people at the bedside and music.” 

Since his introduction to Musicians On Call, Keenan’s music has been enjoyed throughout a variety of medical centers across the Chicago area such as Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, and Chicago Methodist Senior Services Living & Rehabilitation (Pre-Covid). In playing for various patients across the city, Keenan has not only made fantastic and sincere contributions to the medical and music community, but he has also grown closer to his roots as a fellow Hawaiian by sharing his culture’s sincere and emotionally moving music at countless bedsides. 

While Keenan has been flexible in diversifying his musical selections during his visits, his profound experience and knowledge of his native music have also generated much praise from patients. Songs like “Over the Rainbow” by IZ have created a warm atmosphere that matches the sincerity and calming vibe of Hawaiian music and culture. 

Keenan’s experience with MOC has created an immense impact on his life as an individual and musician and he enthusiastically urges other musicians to do the same. 

“Its greater than any group/audience big or small. It is by far the most rewarding opportunity that we as musicians can do even if it's just for one patient. You change everything within them through the music.” Keenan Kamae

When he’s not performing for Musicians On Call, Keenan works as an International Japanese Speaking Flight Attendant for United Airlines, a job he has enjoyed for 26 years. He is also a loving husband and father to three daughters. 

He has played for over 1,000 patients while being involved in MOC and doesn’t plan to end his efforts anytime soon. 

Smiling musician volunteer poses next to happy patient.

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