Most DMU students pursue careers in health care because they want to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Most are already doing so in their volunteer and extracurricular activities. For members of the DMU Chamber Ensemble, that means giving the gift of music.
This year’s ensemble leader, third-year osteopathic medical student and violinist Tanya Hioe, describes its members as “faculty, staff and students who are passionate about music in addition to health care and academia.” The ensemble performs during campus events and at local assisted-living facilities throughout the year, “thus representing DMU’s vision of being a leader and partner of choice in the delivery of services that enhance health, wellness and education in our communities,” she adds.
Several members say the ensemble lets them share their love of music as well as take a valuable break from their studies. “Although medical school is often fun, many times it is grueling and exhausting,” says first-year osteopathic medical student Michelle Brenner, who plays the viola. “In those times, you have to take a moment away from school and do something else. In those moments, music is relaxing and fun for me.”
Oboist Martha Klingbeil, the only podiatric medical student in the group this year, enjoys interacting with its osteopathic medical student members. “I have learned more about their profession because the group gives me the opportunity to ask them questions about classes that I don’t take,” she says. “It is great to play for a group of people who truly appreciate the time you have taken to brighten their day, but I also enjoy the practices leading up to the performance. Being able to pull my instrument out with a few fellow classmates and just play around for an hour is sometimes the thing that will keep me going when I’m stressed. Playing music with people is something that no matter how busy my life gets, I will always find time to do.”
Music will shape the ensemble members as future health care providers, some say. “If there’s one thing I’ve gotten better at because of my musical experience, it is improvisation,” notes Brock Booth, a first-year osteopathic medical student and trumpet player. “There are literal improvisational skills that I’ve developed in jazz band, but then there are the more accidental things that you have to adjust to rapidly and in the moment: someone makes an entrance at the wrong time, the tempo isn’t right, your music falls off your stand… You learn very quickly how to remedy or work around those situations so that the music never stops. This will likely translate to medicine very well – you never know what could happen and need to be able to adapt at any moment for any possible outcome.”
Participating in a musical ensemble also fosters teamwork, adds Brenner. “If the tempo of the group speeds up or slows down, each one of us has to adjust so we sound like a cohesive unit,” she says. “In the health care world, we are all going to need to adapt and work as a team to provide the best outcome for our patients.”
That generates positive outcomes for ensemble members as well. “Music is something that everyone can understand and appreciate. But honestly, I’m in the band for purely selfish reasons,” says flutist and first-year osteopathic medical student Kayla Whitmore. “I love music and I love to play… In order to be a great performer, you have to be passionate about what you are playing. It’s the same in medicine. If you are genuinely passionate about your patients, you will be a phenomenal provider.”