One of the hottest local bands on the event and festival scene these days is XOXO. We were lucky enough to have the band play at The Witches Ball in 2018. Not only is the band a ton of fun, and super talented, lead singer Jessika Schreiber has been spending some of her time playing music for people “during their time of need.”
When Jessika told me that she was involved with an inspirational project called Musician Medics, I couldn’t wait to hear more about it. The first thing that Jessika did, was to direct me to the following video clip on Facebook, where she and guitarist Chris Kacala (Tim Britt Band) are seen singing and playing for a hearing impaired patient at Oishei Children’s Hospital. In the video, the lyrics of the songs interpreted via sign language by the patient.
^Musician Medics performance by Jessika and Chris with Service Bridges, Inc. interpreter (Rachel) signing the lyrics using American Sign Language.
Buffalo Rising: How did you get involved in this amazing project?
Jessika: I saw that a few other amazing Buffalo musicians were a part of this organization so I basically begged Richard Sargent (Program Manager) for the opportunity to join the ranks. My band mate in Jessika & The Feels, Chris Kacala, had been recently talking about getting into a sound therapy program, so when this came up, I knew he would be a great fit to accompany me.
Buffalo Rising: Who have you been performing for so far?
Jessika: We’ve gotten the chance to play for a bunch of different kids over the course of our last few visits. Sue Mirabella, Entertainment/Donation Coordinator, at Oishei Children’s Hospital, takes us from room to room to play for the children who welcome us in. Sue has mentioned the fact that music is proven to alleviate stress and anxiety in a hospital setting.
Buffalo Rising: How has the experience been for you?
Jessika: What’s rewarding for us is seeing the light in the children’s eyes just brighten up as soon as they hear the guitar begin playing. Sometimes the kids are old enough to sing along. Other times, they are infants or toddlers who can’t talk yet and we get to see their faces and bodies react to the music.
Buffalo Rising: And how has the reaction been from the patients?
Jessika: Most recently, when we played for a female patient who is hearing impaired, we got to experience how music really has no limitations. Through her translator, Rachel, from Service Bridges, Inc, she was able to feel the beat and experience the song with us. It was truly our pleasure to get to see her smile and sign along. This was also a cool experience seeing the translator signing the music.
The Musician Medics program is run by the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. The program was launched in January of 2013 by Founder/Program Director Heidi Raphael. Since that time, a litany of volunteer musicians have come out of the woodwork to help keep the dream alive.