Hearing is Believing

Posted on May 23, 2018

Volunteer Jessica Tomlinson plays the piano in the hospital lobby

Physicians rush past in pastel scrubs and lab coats. Moms pushing strollers pull slowly out of the cafeteria stopping to look both ways. A woman walks in with an arm full of handmade pillows to donate.

It’s typical commotion in the lobby at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Controlled chaos. Moving feet. Lots of talking.

One sound stands out. The majestic sounds of Beauty and the Beast from a grand piano carefully placed in the center of the lobby.

Several parents stop, take a seat in the colorful leather chairs and enjoy the music with their little ones. Soon “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid takes over and big smiles appear.

Of course they know the words.

Jessica Tomlinson is aware of the commotion and she’s suspicious of the happy little faces, but she can’t really see them as she plays the 940th hour of her volunteer experience. Tomlinson was born with optic nerve hyperplasia. She can make out hazy images and large text, but her piano playing is from memory and, of course, pure talent.

With several degrees in sound technology and teaching, Tomlinson still gets the most pleasure from hearing little girls sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” once a month in the lobby.


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