Music is medicine for the soul part 2

October 28, 2022

4 minute read


Aldasouqi is a professor of medicine and head of the division of endocrinology at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing.

Disclosures: Aldasouqi reports that he is a consultant for Abbott Diagnostics.

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After completing the tour at Sparrow Hospital this afternoon, our junior endocrinology colleague Palak Kachhadia, MD, and I approached the lobby and saw Kairo Noronha playing the grand piano near the hospital cafeteria. .

I hadn’t seen Kairo for a few months, as he was busy applying to medical schools. I introduced him to the guy, who had heard Kairo’s story – I shared his uplifting story with colleagues in our division.

Saleh Aldasouqi plays the piano
Saleh Aldasouqi, MD, FACE, ECNU, plays the piano as his teacher, medical student candidate Kairo, looks on. Photo credit: Palak Kachhadia.

A year ago, I wrote the first part of “Music is Medicine for the Soul” about Kairo’s dream of learning medicine and becoming a doctor and my dream of learning to play the piano. As I wrote in this post, I was mesmerized when I heard someone playing the grand piano in the lobby of Sparrow Hospital. I was having lunch in the nearby cafeteria, and when I heard the piano, I took my tray and sat down at a table near the piano.

Saleh Aldasouqi

After the performer finished the song he was playing, I clapped and introduced myself. His name was Kairo, a gifted recent college graduate who was volunteering at Sparrow Hospital. He told me about his dream and I told him about mine. We agreed that he would teach me the piano and that I would teach him medicine. I told him that I dreamed of performing Yanni’s songs myself, including “One Man’s Dream”, “Felitsa” and “Until the Last Minute”.

As I wrote in the previous post, when I asked him his name and if he was from Cairo, the capital of Egypt, he said yes. He said his father had a great passion for the city. We then joked about swapping the C for a K.

Last year, Kairo completed his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at Michigan State University. Since then, he has been working at a rehabilitation center and volunteering at Sparrow Hospital. After we met at the grand piano, I sort of “adopted” Kairo and became his mentor. I saw in him a promising future doctor, who has this gift for music.

Kairo began learning music at the age of 5 from his mother, herself a pianist. I think a person with a passion for music will make an excellent doctor. I believe such an individual promises to have great empathy, an essential attribute with which all physicians should be well equipped. I firmly believe that “music is medicine for the soul”.

I added Kairo to my research team and he participated in an ongoing study we were conducting in our endocrine clinic. He then took the MCAT and obtained very good results. He is now interviewing for medical schools and I hope he will be accepted into a good school. He asked for a letter of recommendation, and I hope the letter resonates with potential medical schools he applies to.

The personal statement Kairo wrote in his medical school application was so powerful. He spoke of some difficult social experiences in his childhood that transformed him into a forward-looking, self-taught and hardworking young man with a big dream – to be a doctor. He praised his parents and their central role in his upbringing. I hope that this statement, along with Kairo’s qualifications, aspirations, experiences and utmost professionalism will appeal to medical schools as the ideal medical student candidate.

In return, Kairo kept his promise to me: to teach me music. He gave me some piano lessons on his piano. I had never played before and he gave me important musical advice. I had no knowledge of reading sheet music or terminology. Music is a sophisticated theoretical science. It was like rocket science to me, but even harder to apply. Too many things to coordinate: eyes on the notes and staves, fingers on the keys, and memorizing the CDEFGAB alphabets and vice versa, which is counter-intuitive to the alphabet that begins with A. The most difficult thing is to master the letters on the lines and staff: A famous mnemonic is Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge, for the letters on the lines of the treble clef, the fingers of the right hand, starting at middle C moving to the right until to keys of higher height!

I know, lots of weird terminology and concepts – and there’s a lot more to learn.

I became more determined to learn the piano, so I enrolled in MSU’s Community Music College. I learned sheet music and can now play simple songs and pieces, like Jingle Bells, Ode to Joy, Friends, etc., songs that children and beginners learn to play.

But my dream, shared with Kairo, was to play Yanni’s songs, especially “One Man’s Dream”.

As I wrote in the previous post, I had thought that the track Kairo was playing was a song by Yanni. Kairo told me after our introduction that it was a Yiruma song. But then he agreed that Yiruma’s part had a part similar to a part of “One Man’s Dream”.

When we met again today, Kairo told me that he would soon have more time to teach me more piano, as he would be finishing the medical school interviews. He told me it was time I learned to play “One Man’s Dream”. I said, “No, it’s difficult.” But then he taught me to play the repeated opening notes with my left hand, while he played the higher notes with his right hand. We collectively played the first part of “One Man’s Dream”, and it was so rewarding!

Finally, I asked him to listen to the piece that I focused on learning, the song “Lullaby”. I took the sheet music out of my pocket and played it, and I was proud of myself. The lullaby is so special to me because it reminds me of my daughter Jinan, who died early in life due to a rare congenital brain disorder, as I detailed in a previous post.

The man was surprised to see her playing the piano, and she took the picture on the face.

#Music #medicine #soul #part

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