Dialysis is the treatment that is needed when your own kidneys can no longer take care of your body’s needs. Inbound kidney patients spend at least three days per week in a dialysis center or in a hospital for about four hours each session. They need to do so, for their survival, even though this might become frustrating at times. Hence, sometimes fighting boredom gets quite challenging: some people like to watch TV or play video games, while others prefer to read and chat with other patients, besides sleeping or playing cards. It’s definitely not easy to deal with such a long and time-consuming process.
Recently, three young musicians decided to offer an alternative – and I’d even go so far to say that it’s a much better one. Wanting to entertain dialysis patients in Parker, Colorado: Paul (17-years-old) and his sisters Clare (15-years-old) and Hannah (11-years-old) Trainor played respectively the cello, harp and violin in a treatment room of a Kidney Care Centre, performing well-known pieces of classic music.
Being extremely interested in this story, I interviewed the – now famous – Trainor siblings. Their fantastic mom Monica gave me the chance to ask them a few questions and I was delighted to virtually meet them.
It was not the first performance in the hospital/medical environment for Paul, who told me <<Walking into the Centre, I was not expecting a lot of reaction out of the people, but it was amazing to see how much they knew about what I was playing and how much they were appreciative>>.
Hanna and Clare added that they were happy to see how much their performance could improve the mood of the people in the room, since some of them looked initially a bit tired by the long dialysis treatment. Although Paul is, by now, an experienced performer in hospitals and medical centres, for young violinist Hannah Trainor this was the first performance in this kind of environment (excluding the nursing homes). She loved the fact that her daily practice on her violin enabled her to make other people happy. As for Clare, a young harpist, she told me that it is usually funny to see that people first react to astounded when seeing her harp, a large sized instrument, but once she starts playing they are engaged and happy to listen. While I was talking with Clare, I realized that she was absolutely touched by this experience. Indeed, she refers to her performance mostly as a personal growth experience, which is something I really admire in her.
When I asked the Trainors why they would recommend anyone to go and perform in a dialysis centre, they all gave me their different personal reasons: Clare believes that also small actions make you learn more about kidney disease, which is important since there needs to be more awareness on around kidney disease and how to prevent kidney failure.
Hannah observed that she learnt how much music could connect people, and that it was amazing for her to learn that music can be so important in bringing people together.
Finally, Paul – as the experienced older brother – told me something I couldn’t agree with more: when you walk into a hospital (or a dialysis centre) to play music, you have an uncomfortable feeling for many reasons (it’s not an easy environment, besides you don’t know the people you will meet), but once you overcome that initial feeling of apprehension, you will definitely feel happier and more connected to other people.
I was personally driven by the spontaneity of the Trainor siblings. Indeed, little did they know about the research that suggest that “music therapy […] can be used to help in fulfilling the physical, emotional, and psychological requirements of Hemodialysis patients”. Hence, the World Kidney Day team hopes that this initiative will give other musicians the courage and motivation to follow the example of the Trainor siblings. As little Hannah said, seeing the effect your music practice has on people, you are also more motivated to do your practice every day. So…Musicians of the world, unite for Kidney Patients!
Interview held by Tara Riva
 Işin Cantekin & Mehtap Tan (2013) The Influence of Music Therapy on Perceived Stressors and Anxiety Levels of Hemodialysis Patients, Renal Failure, 35:1, 105-109.