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MUSICAL CHEER Katrina Sawyer, a sophomore at Awty International School, is part of a group of musicians who play for patients and in nursing homes. (Photo: Deborah Wallace, Barfield Photography)
We call ourselves Polka Dots. We frequent nursing homes, children’s wards and end-of-life units to bring smiles to patients’ faces. The story of how it all started is a sad one. When my father was dying from cancer, I remember the dread I felt when I would visit him in the hospice. I got the same feeling when we visited a nursing home with my school group.
I got a chance to do something about this when I began my romance with woodwind instruments. I picked up the saxophone in the fifth grade, after mastering the recorder. I needed a place to hone my performance skills, and my saxophone teacher took me to the local nursing home, where I had my first taste of performing in front of a hall full of people.
Since that first time, my mother and I have gathered a few of my musician friends to help with our concerts. The name came from us trying to find matching outfits, and so Polka Dots were born. We put on a variety of performances with different musicians of all ages in order to bring joy to those in need. All my problems seem to melt away at the smile of a child with cerebral palsy or the voice of an 85-year-old woman singing along to our music. Our very first performance was during the winter of 2012, and we celebrated the five-year anniversary of Polka Dots in 2017 with a performance at Methodist Hospital.
Balancing high school, learning music and performing can be challenging, and we were very lucky to get support from the Houston community. All of this was possible because of organizations such as Music Doing Good, a local nonprofit helping young artists.
For three years they have supported me through scholarships to continue with my musical pursuits. Not only does Music Doing Good give out scholarships, but they also give opportunities to meet talented and renowned artists. They inspire and motivate musicians like me to continue with projects like Polka Dots.
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