“It’s in His Heart” Student Volunteer Plays for Patients

August 16th, 2019

While some musicians dream of playing at Carnegie Hall or the Grand Ole Opry, Fort Worth teenager Jo Jo Liu prefers a smaller, more personal audience.

The incoming senior at L.D. Bell High School has performed one day a week this summer in the lobby of the JPS Health Network Oncology and Infusion Center, hoping to bring a little bit of peace and serenity to patients awaiting their treatments. He wasn’t playing for school credit or to round out his college admissions applications. He wasn’t even playing for applause. Liu just thought some music in their day would make things brighter for cancer patients.

“Music is a gift in my life, it’s what I have to give,” Liu said. “But there is value in serving people through music.”

Jo Jo Liu performs at the JPS Health Network Oncology and Infusion Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

Jo Jo Liu performs at the JPS Health Network Oncology and Infusion Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

The 17-year-old Senior Volunteer wasn’t sure how he’d be received when he began his residency at the health network. But his reservations were quickly forgotten when he saw how moved people were by his music. When he played Tuesday, Liu started off with some hymns that captured the attention of people in the lobby and even brought some patients to tears. Later, he took requests for Marvin Gaye and Kenny G songs. As patients heard their names called for their appointments, they passed Jo Jo to tell him how much they appreciated his efforts.

“Your playing is beautiful,” one patient said. A few minutes later, another said “I want to thank you for doing this. It means so much that you give your time for us.”

Kim Pinter, Manager of Volunteer Services at JPS said there are many different ways to help patients. She was excited when Liu offered to play music for them.

“It’s in his heart,” Pinter said. “He’s here for the right reasons and we’re so excited to have him. Patients and team members have really responded to him in an amazing way.”

Patient access representative Diana Garza has had a front row seat for Jo Jo’s performances. She sits just inside the Oncology and Infusion Center door, checking people in as they arrive.

“He had patients crying tears of joy,” Garza said. “It was so beautiful that I almost started crying, too. I think the patients and their families really appreciate the music because sometimes it is so quiet in here. It’s something to make them feel better and take their minds off their troubles.”

Liu, who will be a senior in high school in the fall, said he didn’t choose to play his instrument at JPS to further his musical aspirations. He did it because he has been considering a career in the medical field someday.

“Music is mostly a hobby for me now,” Liu said, mentioning that he stopped performing with his school band and, besides his JPS performances, the most likely place for people to find him playing is at his church. “I just want to play where I feel I can make a difference with my music.”

While summer vacation has come to an end and Jo Jo’s weekdays will be filled with class instead of music, he’s not quite ready to give up his passion for playing to patients. He said he hopes to switch up his schedule and spend Saturdays this fall performing for patients at the JPS Main Campus. Pinter said Liu will likely bring a second instrument during his encore performance. He also plays the guitar, so she’s asked him to strum a few tunes for his second act.


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