That piano music coming from the chapel? It’s a 16-year-old patient at the baby grand
The first chance he got to leave his hospital room, Gabe Gingerich made his way to the keyboardMay 4, 2023
Gabe Gingerich at the piano in the chapel. Photo by Susan Urmy
It is not unusual to hear music coming from the chapel at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Typically, adult visitors are the players.
But recently, the musician responsible for the sounds emanating from the second-floor space was at the hands of 16-year-old Gabe Gingerich, a patient at the hospital.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around what all the doctors are saying and telling us. It’s scary honestly. I just sat at the piano and played. It was peaceful for me and brought me hope.”
When given opportunity to leave the hospital floor for the first time since he was admitted on April 27, Gabe made one stop — the chapel.
It’s the only place with a piano — a baby grand at that.
“It’s been over a week since I played, and it felt so good,” Gabe said. “It was a really big deal for me. I usually play a couple of times a week, sometimes daily. Getting to play (in the chapel) helped me to relax.
“I’m trying to wrap my head around what all the doctors are saying and telling us. It’s scary honestly.
“I just sat at the piano and played. It was peaceful for me and brought me hope.”
For the past month, Gabe reports that he has been experiencing chest tightening and feeling like there is a golf ball-sized obstruction in his throat along with high blood pressure readings.
It all came to a head on April 26 when his mother, Leda Gingerich, took him to the Emergency Room in their hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky. From there Gabe was transported via ambulance to Monroe Carell and admitted to the PICU.
Once stabilized, he is now on a regular floor undergoing tests to determine a diagnosis.
“Right now, they are trying to figure out what is going on with my kidneys. They are operating at 10%,” said Gabe. “Will I need dialysis? Will I need a kidney transplant? I’m trying to take it all in.”
“When he got on the piano it was the first time I really saw him smile since we got here.”
Gabe’s mom says her son has always been musically inclined. Their garage has been turned into a music studio, and Gabe is a member of his church’s worship team.
“We are a musical family,” she said. “I played the piano when I was pregnant with him, and since he was little, he would sit next to me while I played.
“Playing is sort of therapy for us. Music in general is. When he got on the piano it was the first time I really saw him smile since we got here.”
While the family waits for a diagnosis, the chapel’s baby grand will continue to offer a place of comfort for Gabe.
One recent afternoon, two of his friends drove from Bowling Green to join him in an after-school jam session.
“We are feeling a bit helpless right now — seeing him play brings so much joy,” his mom said.