imagination meets reality
Several years ago I began performing at Texas Children’s Hospital as a visiting artist with the Arts in Medicine Program at Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers. I have believed for a long time that creativity and healing are intertwined, so performing on a pediatric cancer floor was a chance to see how music and other arts related activities impact the healthcare environment. The doctors, nurses and staff at Texas Children's Hospital are very supportive of the extensive arts programs there, and it seems to be a shared belief that creativity enhances life and has the potential to have a very powerful influence in the lives of children who are ill.
At Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers, many visual artists and writers work with the children one-on-one, but a one-on-one musical experience had not been created in the clinic, and this is what led to my idea.
I had been working with children for many years helping them to write their own songs, and I would often take them into a professional studio to record. A few years ago, I set up a small home studio for my own composing, and then began using the equipment to record my students’ songs and pieces during their lessons. Writing and recording songs with my students had been a process that took place as a part of their piano lessons and usually extended from week to week. In 2004, one of my students, Samantha Kirshon, started working with me in piano lessons to just write songs. When she easily wrote and recorded an original song in her one hour session, I began to see new possibilities. Because technology at that time had improved greatly, songs could be written and recorded easily and at a relatively high level in a small home studio, and then quickly burned to a disc. This tehnological improvement led me to the idea of recreating my purple studio in the hospital, where children could then write and record their own songs, and then leave the hospital with a CD in hand.
I made a proposal to Carol Herron, the Director of the Arts in Medicine program in December of 2004, and we began the process of creating a unique experience for the children being treated at Texas Children's Cancer and Hematology Centers and their siblings.
Purple Songs Can Fly was founded, and I began working with the first child, Simran, on March 21, 2006.
In 2003, a song that I wrote in remembrance of September 11th, If We Can Fly to the Moon, ended up flying on Space Shuttle "Endeavor" mission with Astronaut, John Herrington. Having a song fly so far (over 5 million miles around the earth) was such a great thrill, that I decided to have the songs the children write at the hospital fly as well. I envisioned them flying to interesting places around the world ... and one day, maybe even into space.
Now that Purple Songs Can Fly has begun, and I am working with the children each week, the vision and the reality have come together to create an outcome that is even more powerful than I could have foreseen. I feel very blessed to be able to help these children express through music what may never have emerged in quite the same way, and I continue to be amazed by what is waiting in each child's imagination.
I do believe ...
There's a song inside every single child, waiting to be heard.
May 2006, Anita Kruse, Founder & Executive Director, Purple Songs Can Fly
Purple Songs Can Fly was inspired by the songwriting students of Anita Kruse through the years, including: Alice Alsup, Anna Margaret Jones, Samantha Kirshon, Megan LaForge, Katherine & Luke Morille, and Marika Rafte.