Bringing the Joy of Ukuleles to Sick Kids

Corey Bergman brings music to children in hospitals after losing son to viral infection

Corey Bergman's son Jared was just 20 when he died of a viral infection, but his legacy has lived on in truly touching fashion. Bergman has turned his grief into altruism by donating ukuleles to children's hospitals.

"When a tragedy like this happens, there's one of two ways a person can go," Bergman told People. "They can fall down and collapse or get up and move forward to try to make a difference."

Why ukuleles? In part, Bergman explained, because full-sized guitars often prove too big for children to play. But the instrument's unique sound certainly doesn't hurt.

"A ukulele is so simple and so joyous, you can't not love it," Bergman said. "That's why I plan on working hard to continue to introduce children to the beauty of music."

The gesture is more than a random act of kindness. Music can also be quite useful for patients, according to Stephanie Epstein, a music therapist at Holtz Children's Hospital at Jackson Memorial in Miami.

"Song writing can be a really wonderful way to express what they're feeling in a safe and secure way," she told People.

Kathleen Humphries, of Sutter Children's Center in Sacramento, has had a similar experience as a music therapist.

"When I enter a patient's room, they immediately perk up because it's the one thing in the hospital that doesn't have any negative side effects," Humphries told People.

According to the American Music Therapy Association, "Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program."

Music therapy can facilitate developmental skills, serve as a source of motivation and relaxation, help manage pain and stress, encourage socialization and stimulate cognitive functioning. It's probably fair to say a ukulele has never been quite so useful.