Toronto violinist helps hospital patients celebrate birthdays

Gemma Donn's virtual performances provide birthday cheer for isolated patients.
By: Stewart Wiseman
May 29, 2020
Photo: CTV News

Social distancing measures have had significant impacts on moments of celebration and joy, from birthday festivities to live concerts. Feeling separated from her passion, Toronto violinist Gemma Donn created the Facebook group "Songs in Self-Isolation" to bring musicians together for virtual performances. Due to COVID-19, many Canadians have had to celebrate their birthdays away from friends and loved ones, and Donn realized that the "Songs in Self-Isolation" Zoom concerts could help alleviate people's loneliness while allowing musicians to perform for an audience again.

Donn contacted local organizations that she had previously volunteered with, and through collaborations with Sunnybrook Hospital and the Saturday Speech Club, patients and children with developmental delays are now able to celebrate their birthdays with uplifting music. “A lot of these patients might be by themselves for their birthday,” Donn explained to CTV News. “I think it’s just a nice way to show the patient that someone’s thinking about them.” Birthday performances are personalized for patients and children, and many of the patient reactions have been filmed by hospital staff. Donn notes that the project is simply about making people feel better during a difficult time, and the group plans to continue spreading birthday cheer to those who are isolated during the pandemic.

Source: CTV News Toronto

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