Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Scales to Scalpels by Lisa Wong


The incredible story of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra that reveals the remarkable interplay between music and medicine.
 You may have read about the Longwood Symphony Orchestra (LSO) in the paper or heard them on your favorite radio station. But the LSO is not just any orchestra. It began in 1982 with a group of talented Boston-area physicians, med students and health-care professionals and has since flourished under the leadership of violinist Dr. Lisa Wong, who became president of the LSO in 1991. The orchestra is now a proud, extraordinary group of musicians with fans around the globe.

In Scales to Scalpels, Dr. Wong and Robert Viagas chronicle how the musical acumen of these physicians affects the way they administer healing and, in turn, how their work affects their music. What cognitive and emotional shifts occur when a surgeon transitions from the chaos of the ER to the discipline of the orchestra rehearsal studio? What's it like to make a house call to a poor neighborhood in the morning and then play trumpet in a jazz group that night? Does music heal the doctors the way the doctors heal their patients? How does practicing the art of music transform the art of practicing medicine?


I enjoyed this book immensely.

Scales to Scalpels is the story of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra and its doctor-musicians. Aside from the background of the LSO and its musicians, there are countless references to studies that correlate music and medicine.

While I was in medical school, I was part of a band. It's a rock band, but still, it's a music group. As Lisa Wong posits in the book, a lot of doctors in our school and its affiliate hospital can play musical instruments or are in choirs. In my class alone, a lot of us were taught to play instruments at a young age. Maybe there really is a correlation between medicine and music.

There are a lot of medical jargon in this book. I was able to follow it quite well because of my medical background. I'm not sure if those who aren't familiar with medicine will be able to follow it well, though.

Thanks to NetGalley and Pegasus Books for the e-copy.


  1. It's very informative.
  2. It's not boring.
  3. You learn more about the benefits of music.


  1. The medical jargon may throw some people off.


Chances are, your doctor has a secret life.
As a musician.


  1. You are a doctor-musician.
  2. You love music.
  3. You believe in the healing power of music.

RATING: Photobucket



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