Connor Grimes is studying music therapy at Ohio University, and he spent his summer volunteering at Melodic Connections’ “The Art of Being Social” summer camps. Music has been a part of Connor’s life for years. Even though he doesn’t actually remember the event that started him on his path toward a vocation in music, it’s impact will be felt for lifetimes.
At age 2, Connor needed a liver transplant. It was a complicated procedure, and he was in the hospital for 38 days over a two month period. His family says that two-year-old Connor spent most of his days either crying or watching TV. Then music entered the picture when a hospital employee came into the room with a guitar. Connor immediately calmed, and a smile spread over his face. Music seemed to be the only thing that could settle him. Seeing the effect music had, the nurses started singing to him too.
It was nine more years before Connor picked up a guitar, at age 11, and started learning to play. He also taught himself piano and started singing around the same time. “I can’t quite say why, exactly, I was drawn to music,” Connor says, “but it has just always been the case. It helps me relax, and writing music helps me express myself in ways that words never could.”
Fast forward four more years. A 15-year-old Connor was watching TV with his mom Diane, who had also been his liver donor. They were transfixed by the story of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords who recovered much of her speech after a devastating head injury, through music therapy. “It was like a light bulb went off,” Diane said. “Connor said -‘I could do something I love, and also change people’s lives and help them heal.'”
At camp this summer, Connor was drawn to a camper who also responds, almost magically, to the guitar. Jada has attended camp for three years, and is known for how she responds to the guitar, sometimes even following it from room to room. At camp, Connor played the guitar, and Jada followed. Read about how we discovered the magical lure of the guitar for Jada at camp two years ago.
As a volunteer at camp, Connor said it was “incredible” to see the progress campers were making through music. “There was a camper who was very obviously nervous and shy around people. But after a few days of peer interaction through music therapy (and a variety of other activities) this camper was having a ton of fun opening up and becoming friends with the other campers!”
“Camp gave me some great experiences that I am sure to use in the field and even in school work at Ohio University. It was helpful in seeing and applying a variety of approaches and solutions to situations that may arise in real life group, or even one-on-one interventions.”