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Dr. Lisa Wong

Dr. Lisa Wong

Medical personnel, researchers and first responders are sacrificing their health and wellbeing every day for the safety of our community. And while their bravery rarely goes unnoticed, what the public may not see are the personal lives behind the heroes, the talents and passions that fuel their lives beyond the bounds of their professions. Talents and passions like music. Learn more about these community connections in our Summer 2020 Newsletter

Another immensely talented HYS alumna, Dr. Lisa Wong juggles numerous responsibilities as a pediatrician, musician, and arts education advocate. In addition to her work as an assistant professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wong has led the Longwood Symphony Orchestra; co-founded the Boston Arts Consortium for Health (BACH) and the Arts and Humanities Initiative at Harvard Medical School; and authored the book Scales to Scalpels: Doctors who practice the healing arts of Music and Medicine. Now, in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, she’s worked with fellow musicians in the Boston community to open a Wellness Center for recovering patients to experience the healing power of music.

“Many patients can’t go straight home after being discharged, so we transformed our convention center in Boston into a field hospital called Boston Hope,” said Dr. Wong. “Here we’ve opened a Wellness Center for patients to sit together from a safe distance while listening to playlists we’ve created. These playlists feature recorded music and messages of hope from prominent members in the music community. It’s so important because a lot of the rehabilitation for these patients deals not only with their bodies and their lungs, but also their minds and their hearts.”

Dr. Wong’s extensive experience can certainly speak to the healing power of music on minds and hearts. Her lifelong music journey began when she learned to play both violin and piano as a child, then took flight after she joined the HYS Junior Orchestra at age 10 with her brother and sister. “What I loved best was traveling to the neighbor islands for the music tours,” she recalled. “It was always fun to play music for kids who had never had instruments before. After that, music education really became a big part of my life.”

Scales to Scalpels: Doctors who practice the healing arts of Music and Medicine not only captures the union of music and neuroscience, but also details Dr. Wong’s experiences with the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, which is comprised of medical professionals and raises funds for various non-profit organizations. “As physicians, we were constantly asking why there are so many doctors who play music,” she said. “What we found was that you end up using the same skills when playing music as you do when practicing medicine, such as listening closely, making adjustments often, and working closely with others.”

For those who haven’t yet read the book, Dr. Wong captures the message in a simple childhood anecdote. “I struggled as a kid to decide if I would be a musician or a doctor,” she recalled. “The answer is, you don’t have to choose one or the other—you can do both! And not only can you do both, but each practice helps the other and keeps you balanced.”

“As physicians, we were constantly asking why there are so many doctors who play music. What we found was that you end up using the same skills when playing music as you do when practicing medicine, such as listening closely, making adjustments often, and working closely with others.”