Scales to Scalpels

By Lisa M. Wong, M.D. with Robert Viagas

Foreword by Bernard Lown, M.D.

"All congratulations to the Longwood Symphony Orchestra for making the connection between music and medicine so visible and palpable. Following Dr. Albert Schweitzer's 'Reverence for Life' philosophy, Dr. Wong and each of her LSO colleagues serve humanity on so many levels." -Yo-Yo Ma

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Kirkus Reviews:

"With the assistance of founder Viagas (I'm the Greatest Star: Broadway's Top Musical Legends from 1900 to Today, 2009, etc.), Wong sums up her experiences as president of Boston's Longwood Symphony Orchestra. The author joined this relatively unique orchestra of semi-professional musicians who are also medical practitioners in 1985, at a time when it was made up of “an enthusiastic but rather motley band of eighty or ninety musicians.” In college Wong had dreamed of becoming a professional violinist but decided on a medical career instead. Despite the demands of a thriving pediatric practice, marriage and motherhood, she joined the LSO and served as president from 1991 to 2012. She provides thumbnail sketches of other members of the orchestra to substantiate her assertion that music and medicine can be complementary, and she explains that the ability to listen is crucial both for musicians performing in an orchestra and doctors treating patients. Both disciplines require “passion, focus, training, and the sharing of humanity with those around us,” and for doctors who need to suppress their own emotions in professional situations, playing music can be a welcome release. Wong also discusses the clinical benefits of listening to music—e.g., stroke victims who regain their lost ability to speak by singing; withdrawn patients suffering from dementia who become responsive through music—and pays special tribute to Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Prize–winning doctor whose combined career as a missionary and musician remains an inspiration. Wong's message is simple yet profound: Music heals. Publishers's Weekly It’s the secret life of some remarkable doctors who heal ailing bodies and minds with medicine by day: by night they heal with music. In this loving ode to the health-care providers/musicians who volunteer their talents with the famed Longwood Symphony Orchestra of Boston, pediatrician, violinist, and retiring LSO president Wong profiles the fascinating professionals who shed their white coats once a week to make great music, and then explores how music helps them deliver better care. Gastroenterologist Stephen Wright, a Tufts Medical School professor and chief of medicine at Faulkner Hospital, displays skill with the bassoon reed that mirrors his precision as a physician; violinist and occupational therapist Tamara Goldstein works with elderly patients with dementia and shows how music reached into the deepest part of one woman to reawaken her memories—and participation in life. And physical therapist and cellist Denise Lotufo found music sharpened her ability to hear not only when she was playing in tune but also what her patients were telling her. Wong argues that there may soon come the day when doctors will write prescriptions for Bach or Haydn “the way we now write for amoxicillin or Ambien.”