Music, Medicine, and Healing

March 28 – April 13, 2015

Weeks 37 – 38

Let me start with some current events:

I’m excited to be in Cleveland for much of the summer. I’ll be participating in the NIH Heart, Lung, and Blood Program at Case!


This past Saturday, I saw Dame Mitsuko Uchida play Mozart with the Cleveland Orchestra. I also met the Maltz family who donated $20 million to the Cleveland Orchestra to fund the student ticket program!

Grammy Award winner, Mitsuko Uchida
Grammy Award winner, Mitsuko Uchida

I saw Cinderella this past Sunday and LOVED IT!

Loved the costumes!
Loved the costumes!

And, today I learned a bit more about the pediatric physical exam and the tricks in pediatricks! Got a look in the ears of a one year old and a pre-mature baby—both ridiculously precious.

Now, on to Music, Medicine and Healing…

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


These words are the opening to Leonard Cohen’s Hallejuah. To me, they showcase the beauty in wonderful secrets music has on us. Music has been more than pleasing in my life. I have early memories of Paul Simon’s Graceland on road trips with my family, dancing to Fela Kuti at Nigerian weddings, practicing Bach cello concertos, singing hymns at church or blasting Puccini arias on the way to school. Music moves me.

The technical portion of skilled music making is difficult. When learning how to read an EKG, the only analogous example I could draw to it is that of learning how to read music.


 Notes, black or hollow strewn about 5 horizontal lines.

Sharps and flats


And words written in italicized abbreviated Italian.


Music demands both intuition and familiarity. It is this complexity in music that I find has the power to both isolate and unite us–to move us to tears, excitement or even forget about it in the midst of a powerful cinematic moment, creating a mood such that we are immersed in the world of the story.

Although music can be defined in part by a chord or a key, its effect on us seems to be without limitation.

Music is powerful, and I learned from Dr. Deforia Lane that it has a wonderful role in healing. Just as there may have been a secret cord David played to please the Lord. Deforia Lane harnesses the magical quality of music to help heal those who are sick. Her life’s work has been partially dedicated to unpacking the profound power music has on all of us.

Music therapy has taught a medical student like me—so engrossed in the physical and what I can see, that healing takes more than the knowledge of cellular pathways. Truly healing involves the recalibration of the mind. Music, a sacred gift can do just this. The fact that Dr. Lane can use music to help stroke victims talk again or walk again or those fighting cancer (like she did) smile again is truly amazing to me. There was a segment on NBC Nightly News about this fabulous woman. Check it out!

I am so glad we have people like her in the medical world. Patients sometimes need more than doctors can give them. Luckily some have the good fortune of meeting Deforia Lane.


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