Harmonizing Healing – The Impact of a Single Guitar and Community

The Artisan Guitar Show, in partnership with luthier Scott Leavitt, is pleased to announce its support of Four Diamonds whose mission is to conquer childhood cancer.

Four Diamonds music therapist with Harmony

With the generous spirit and talent of guitar maker Scott Leavitt of Leavitt Stringed Instruments, we have built a sweet electric guitar to honor this wonderful charity. Together, ten like-minded and compassionate guitar enthusiasts, Robert Berger, Andrea and Peter Chiccarine, Aaron Cohen, John Davis, Denise Detrick, John Detrick, Rick Hearne, Peter Henriksen, Baker Rorick, and Al Vontz have each committed to donate $1,000 to Four Diamonds.

On Saturday evening prior to the presentation of the Artisan Guitar Show Bucky Pizzarelli Award, these generous individuals will be acknowledged from the stage. We are excited to have Four Diamonds child Harmony on stage to randomly select a name from this list of contributors by pulling a personalized ticket from a jar.

To add to the excitement of helping families in need, that individual will take this guitar home with them. Henriksen Amplifiers has generously contributed a Blue SIX amplifier that will be awarded with the beautiful guitar crafted by Leavitt Stringed Instruments. Aulson Inlay has supported this wonderful project by inlaying “Artisan Guitar Show” in the fretboard.

Harmony Grace Chiccarine was a typical nine-year-old, blessed with a wonderful family, great friends and activities she loved. She participated in dance and played soccer on a travel team. On October 31, 2022, after having symptoms of fatigue and bruising, Harmony was diagnosed with leukemia. She was admitted to Penn State Health Children’s Hospital on the same day for further workup to determine the type and course of treatment. The following day, she was given a diagnosis of B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of leukemia. Everything moved very swiftly and the Chiccarine’s lives were instantly changed. Harmony’s mom, Andrea says “One week I was ordering soccer uniforms and the following I was ordering special shirts that allow easy access to her chest port to administer chemotherapy.”

The Chiccarine’s knew they had a long road ahead of them with approximately 3 years of treatment in various phases. They were faced with a new environment, new terminology, new individuals in their daily circle and many questions about Harmony’s future. They were prepared that treatments would be intense and would come with a lot of side effects – side effects that would prohibit Harmony from attending school in-person for the 2022-2023 school year. Harmony was scared and overcome with anxiety. Thankfully, Four Diamonds was there.

Strumming Comfort
Through generous support from our community, Four Diamonds assists children and their families through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research. They cover 100 percent of the out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the cancer for Four Diamonds children. This meant that Harmony’s family could focus on her getting well and not how they would pay for her treatment. Four Diamonds also funds more than 30 specialty care providers to exclusively serve the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of our patients and their families. One of those services is Music Therapy. “We were introduced to music therapy within the first week,” says Andrea, “and it made a world of difference!”

Music therapy is a therapeutic tool that helps patients process the emotions related to treatment, and helps to shift anxiety and fear into joy and happiness. Therapists use interventions, including playing instruments, singing, listening and song writing to promote adjustment to the hospital setting. Music is a powerful thing! Studies show that making, interpreting, listening or dancing to music gives children a creative outlet for self-expression. It also provides several other physiological and psychological benefits for cancer patients during treatment and recovery. These benefits include the following:

  • Pain management: Studies indicate music therapy can reduce pain perception and analgesic use. It can also reduce the effects of depression and anxiety.
  • Improving mood: Music therapy helps children manage fear and anxiety, improving their mood and outlook about treatment and helping them feel more at ease in the hospital environment.
  • Coping with anxiety: Music therapy also helps children cope with tests, procedures and surgeries by reducing physiological anxiety symptoms. For example, music therapy can reduce heart and respiratory rates.
  • Enhancing relaxation and sleep: Music is soothing and can improve sleep for patients who are in pain or feeling fear or anxiety during an overnight hospital stay.
  • Expressing thoughts and emotions: Music therapy regulates a patient’s autonomic nervous system activity and activates positive emotions and memories. These positive feelings and associations improve a child’s ability to communicate their thoughts and emotions.
  • Encouraging social relationships: Music therapy is comforting and helps a child feel safe. An improved sense of safety encourages children to form deeper bonds with their music therapist and other care providers, including physicians, nurses and caregivers.
  • Developmental learning: Music therapy improves a child’s physical, social, and emotional communication and can also help them develop gross and fine motor skills.
  • Boosting motivation: Improved pain management, mood, sleep and self-expression equip and motivate children to continue with treatment.

Music therapists must be proficient on piano, voice and guitar. Four Diamonds’ music therapist Korrin prefers to come in only with a guitar when helping with cases of anxiety. The guitar responds to playing techniques that allows volume increase or decrease and also timbre as a therapeutic tool. “Sixty beats per minute (BPM) is really the sweet spot. The time signatures of 3/4 and 6/8 are the go-to for getting the body to calm down and stabilize. If I play in that time, I can get the heart rate and vitals to come down to that pace for the medical team to come in and administer care,” says Korrin. ”

Picking Hope
The way the patient, the family and Four Diamonds come together is the partnership needed to overcome many of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges that come with childhood cancer. “Every single person has been amazing,” says Andrea, “and the love and gentleness that is given to the patients and parents is unbelievable.”

Harmony will continue treatment through February 2025. With the help of Four Diamonds and its generous community of people like you, Harmony will then ring the end of treatment bell and get back to activities she loves!

The guitar community is thrilled to present $10,000 in support of Four Diamonds – For The Kids®. This contribution underscores our commitment to the well-being and care of kids facing childhood cancer. These funds will undoubtedly make a significant impact, providing support and care to families like Harmony’s during their challenging journeys. The compassion within the guitar community shines brightly through this heartfelt gesture, demonstrating that music and kindness can harmonize to create a powerful force for good.