Fridays find Wendy Lanxner at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, wheeling her music cart up and down the halls of the hospital. The musician-in-residence travels to multiple units with her entourage of instruments — a drum set, guitar, piano and two ukuleles — to play music and sing with patients.
She recalls recently finding a teenager alone in her room and offering her a private ukulele lesson. “I taught her three chords, used in the song ‘Just the Way You Are,’” says Lanxner. “She knew the song and was able to play the chords and strum with direction.”
Whether it is singing a cappella or learning a few chords on the ukulele, Lanxner’s goals are to give patients and families a distraction, a reason to be active and, most importantly, an opportunity to have some fun.
Artist-in-residence Aubrey Bodt is also a familiar face at the Children’s Center. A typical Thursday for Bodt starts with referrals from child life specialists — a list of patients they believe could benefit from her practice: creating watercolor valentines or “thankful” mobiles to hang from the ceilings of patient rooms. When Bodt first meets patients, she asks what types of activities they enjoy at home. The patient gets to choose the art, and as a result, there is a different project in each room.
“The main goal is to make sure that they have a choice in what they do,” she says. “I might be the only person they get to say ‘no’ to today.”
Lanxner and Bodt are part of a robust healing arts program that is offered by the child life department and began at the Children’s Center in 2012, thanks to the generosity of donors. Both artists would like to see the program expand and represent a broader range of artists-in-residence.
“It has so much potential to heal and grow,” Bodt says. “We all have different roles to meet and serve.”