Dave Kinnoin describes his ability to light up a child’s day through music as “kind of like magic.”
It’s a moving and uplifting experience for those Kinnoin entertains through his involvement with Pickleberry Pie Hospital Concerts for Kids, a nationwide effort bringing joy and comfort to children at a time when they can use it the most.
“It’s a play day away from needles, procedures and worries,” explained the South Pasadena musician, one of many who brings the healing power of music to children in hospitals and special needs facilities.
The enjoyment for those facing life’s most difficult physical and emotional challenges comes in the form of upbeat songs, instrumentals, stories, magic tricks, games and more.
Pickleberry Pie’s success can be traced back to 1986 after two mothers discovered a lack of quality children’s music on the radio and launched their own free program. It quickly blossomed, earning the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s highest radio award in 1990. A new channel was later created for Packard Hospital in Stanford, California, opening the door to the first free children’s concerts in 1998 at the site, along with nearby Shriners hospitals. Today, the website Kids Public Radio continues to provide Pickleberry Pie programming.
“Music is so important because it can help lower blood pressure, reduce pain, improve mood, relieve stress, and help children notice and express their feelings,” reads a portion of the organization’s website. “By sharing our love and performance of music, Pickleberry Pie strives to improve the lives of hospitalized and special needs children nationwide.”
It has also brought the healing power of music to more than 260,000 children, family members and hospital staff since its inception. In recent years, with COVID concerns, performances have been delivered both in person and via Zoom.
In addition to live shows, the website features full length concerts, song videos, games and streaming audio at http://pickleberrypiekids.org “A whopping 18,000 unique visitors have gone to it since March,” said Kinnoin, a songwriter, music producer and singer for his own company Song Wizard Records.
His lofty resume includes writing hundreds of children’s songs for Disney, The Muppets, Sesame Workshop, DreamWorks Animation, and dozens of family entertainment and other educational companies.
Efforts are underway for Pickleberry Pie to expand its program in 2023, partnering with Ollie’s Orchestra, which provides music to infants and children with cancer throughout their treatment and beyond. “We’ll be sending backpacks full of instruments and offer fun, virtual music classes to children,” said Jenny Heitler-Klevans, the executive director for Pickleberry Pie.
Kinnoin added, “I have seen firsthand the joy a musical visit can bring to a kid in the hospital. For at least a little while the child has a pal to hang out with, to sing and talk with, to bang on rhythm sticks, hum kazoos, shake maracas, tell stories and just have fun with.”
And Heitler-Klevans has seen firsthand the happiness, elation and genuine good-nature Kinnoin brings those in a hospital setting as he works his magic, saying: “Dave is a treasure! He has made a huge difference in so many kids’ lives. He puts his heart and soul into engaging with exactly where they are, helping them smile, laugh and have a good time.”
Pickleberry Pie concerts are free but Kinnoin says monetary donations are welcome and much needed to keep the program alive.
For more information, go to: https://pickleberryhospitalconcerts.org
To make a donation to Pickleberry Pie, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit, go to: https://chuffed.org/project/pickleberry-pie-donate
Contributions are also welcome at: Pickleberry Pie, 7426 Barclay Rd., Cheltenham, PA 19012.