The Magic Penny- Giving Instruments to kids

Dear Friends and Supporters. I have a beautiful success story to share with you.

Something really important happened this weekend. I was invited to perform at a benefit concert on saturday afternoon for a 3 year old girl who is suffering from cancer. The night before I thought deeply about what I could bring to the situation as a clown, a musician, a beacon of joy perhaps. I wanted to engage Chiara and her family in a light and playful way, to lift their spirits and invite them into joy.

I prepared the song and an activity. “Magic Penny” (by Melvina Reynolds), brought a bag of pennies and instructed kids to hand out the pennies to the audience as I played the song. The rules of the game were , every time someone hands you a magic penny, find someone else to give it away to. The song says “Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more, its just like a magic penny, keep it for yourself and you don’t have any”.

As I sang, the audience giggled and passed the pennies around the room as I watched and sang with joy and excitement. It was amazing to see the energy in the room move in such away that facilitated exchange, movement, laughter and silliness.

Three weeks ago, someone gave me a Ukulele. I said to them “I don’t need this Ukulele, some little kid does.” Sternly, my friend responded ” you are the musician, YOU find a kid to give the Ukulele to! It means more that way!”

Dean was exactly right. That moment, the Ukulele was a “Magic Penny”. An act of love, made to be given away and shared. I kept the Ukulele for several weeks, waiting for the right person to give it to. When I was invited to play for Chiara, I knew the UKE was meant for her.

At the end of the Magic Penny game, I presented the Chiara with a soprano ukulele. It was a truly magical moment, that changed my life and my work as an artist.

I left the gig with the image of Chiara’s smiling eyes imprinted on my heart. I received so much love that day. And so, this is my new favorite game I call “the magic penny”, a gift of receiving is inseparable from the gift of giving.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this work, and moments like Chiara’s benefit concert, are how I learn more deeply what this work is about.

When battling cancer, illness of any kind, or grief there is a tendency in our medical system to focus on the symptoms and to focus on the downward spiral. Music, play and laughter give us other options. A way to honor the situation through transforming the energy through hope and joy. Even death calls for joy.

Any one have extra instruments and/or Ukulele’s laying around? I know a bunch more kids in hospitals who could use them.

I hope this story has inspired you.


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