Meet Emily Rico, MyMusicRx Specialist

MyMusicRx Specialist Emily

A bright spot of musical talent in the hospitals is non-other than Emily Rico. With her degree in music and passion for working with children and teens, she never fails to bring a little more laughter and happiness to everyone she meets! We sat down with her to gain insight into what motivates her work and why expression through music is so important for children and teens in a hospital setting.

What was your first introduction to music?

“I come from a very musical family, (not my dad so much, poor dad). My mom is such an amazing pianist, vocalist, and guitarist so we always had a piano or a record playing in the background. My siblings and I started by singing with each other, in the car, at home, or in church. We discovered that we could do harmonies and write songs together. We even had competitions, which were super fun! Music was like food or conversation, it was always there in the house and with the family.”

What about being a MyMusicRx Specialist interested you?

“I thought it was incredible that I could have a job that would let me play instruments and sing. Besides a degree in music, much of my background comes from working with disadvantaged youth through various nonprofits. This position provided the perfect combination of working with young people and working in music.”

What do you love most about your work?

“I love the moment when a family I’m playing to has a connection with their child. I get to be the facilitator and I get to witness some incredible moments. It’s so special for them to take that music and turn it into something that feels right for their family. It’s important when a family completely takes over and makes it their own.

Music opens opportunities for connections outside of the hospital, something that kids, siblings and parents can take from their room and apply to the rest of their life.”


What inspires you about working with children and teens?  

“I find that there’s certain amount of silliness working with kids. As an adult, I don’t engage with my silliness enough, and the kids are a reminder that silliness is a good thing! It helps you forget about your own difficulties sometimes. I love being reminded about it in my work, because I often think there’s not enough space in my life for silliness, but that’s not true at all.

With teens, I love that they’re discovering so much. When they work with us and start playing a new instrument or realize they have a good voice, they’re going through a discovery process that boosts their confidence.

How do you approach kids and teens about music in the hospital?

“I try to approach each age range differently. For a little kid, I could bring an instrument by and they would be engaged right away. Being excited and enthusiastic is easy for me and works well for them. For teenagers, I try to present music in a way that would be more appealing. I always offer the option of lessons and electronic music making.”

Do you have any favorite memories from your work?

“I have two experiences that stand out to me. The first is with two girls I worked with individually. At a certain point they met and realized they’re neighbors and immediately decided music should be done together!

One day, they both came together with their parents and we had a rock party. They love to explore different instruments and try different songs. They’re so lively and want to do everything all at once, it was a bit chaotic, but it was so much FUN!”

“Another experience was with a 15-year-old boy. We were advised to see him by the hospital’s Child Life staff, but he would turn us away every time. I kept going back and one day he asked for a guitar. I dropped it off and then the next time he asked to be shown a chord and then he kept asking for longer and longer sessions. Now he’s probably better at the guitar than I am! This is a good example of why we keep going back. He really opened up and music is now a point of pride for him.”

What song brings you the most joy?

“The song ‘Bright’ by Echosmith is my SongRx. My sister and I would sing it in the car all the time. It has very sweet lyrics and I enjoy the imagery in it, whimsical and dreamlike.  My fondest memories involve my siblings and I playing music together.”

“Bright” by Echosmith – Cover by Emily Rico

CCA’s programs, like MyMusicRx, are performed at no cost for the families we serve. This is made possible by generous people like you! Please consider donating to help us continue to provide more music medicine to kids and teens fighting for their lives.