Author: Barbara Reur, CEO and Founder of Resounding Joy
Inspired by an Olivehain girl who loved music, a group of accomplished young musicians performed in a once a year musical program to raise money for music therapy for hospitalized kids.
The Heart of a Child Concert on April 28, which benefitted the Ariana Miller Music with Heart Program, featured 17 acts (solo and group) from classical, pop, rock and country music by vocalists and instrumentalists in kindergarten through college. Many have won music awards and some have performed at Carnegie Hall, on TV and Broadway.
The money raised at the concert is helping to provide music therapy at Rady Children’s Hospital, where Ariana Miller had six open heart surgeries. It is also funding music therapy for local children who are not in the hospital, but are facing major illness.
After Ariana died in 2008 at the age of 13, awaiting a heart transplant, Jeff Miller and his wife, Anita, wanted to provide music therapy for other children, who like their daughter might find joy in music as they fight illness.
“When Ariana began music therapy, it was as if a switch in her soul was flipped to the on position and she was able to regain some control over at least this one aspect of her life,” said Anita Miller.
Ariana played the piano and sang and produced two albums for friends and family. The couple has a recording of Ariana singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” at 18 months old, and recalled that a day rarely went by when Ariana wasn’t singing something.
“Ariana’s health struggles had zapped some of her joy, and music therapy allowed her to once again create and experience something that had been such an integral part of her soul since birth,” Anita Miller said.
The Olivenhain couple partnered with local nonprofit Resounding Joy to provide free music therapy for children with heart disease. They later expanded the program to include children fighting other significant illnesses and disabilities, in the hospital or at home.
Since it was established in 2010, the Ariana Miller Music with Heart Program, under the guidance of Resounding Joy, has raised more than $230,000, mainly through the annual Heart of a Child fundraising concerts.
The program has provided free music therapy to more than 1,500 children at Rady Children’s Hospital.