Notes on Healing

in Uncategorized
May 1st, 2012

Want to know about a group of doctors that put Grey’s Anatomy to shame?

The Longwood Symphony Orchestra, established in 1982, is a collective of surgeons, nurses, psychiatrists, med students, doctors, and medical practitioners who spend their leisure time making beautiful music. This orchestra, however, goes far beyond a hobby as most of them have found a strong correlation between music and medicine.

scalesPresident of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, Dr. Lisa Wong gave a presentation to my class this week to share that connection. She told us that the study practices of music and medicine are nearly identical. First, you learn the basics. For music, you have to learn how to read notes and practicd scales. In medicine, you start with biology and anatomy. You study every note, every fact and detail and “seek an elegant solution.” Playing music affects the hearts, minds, and souls of the listeners while medicine does exactly the same for patients.

The orchestra performs four concerts a year to support and raise awareness for health-related nonprofit organizations and has raised over $1 million to date for 38 different organizations. Dr. Wong said that often times, these performances go beyond simple cathartic celebrations and fundraising. She told us about a time when the orchestra performed for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Foundation. During the show, they realized the energy in the hall was unlike most shows they had played because it was the first time donors, trustees, and staff for the foundation had ever been in the same room as their clients. It was their music that got them together to share in a communal night of healing and common ground.

Dr. Wong has compiled her experiences into a critically acclaimed book that was released just this past month. “Scales to Scalpels” delves into the research she has done to find the link between music and medicine as well as her own tales of healing through music after some of her most disheartening days as a pediatrician.


Arielle (CFA ’12) has two simple missions in life: paint and create. She is a self-proclaimed tea snob, an avid people watcher, a critic, and the keeper of useless movie trivia. Want her to check out your event? Don’t be shy! Contact her via Twitter — @brembles