Conquer Medical School and the Piano: A Guide for Aspiring Doctor-Musicians
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Conquer Medical School and the Piano: A Guide for Aspiring Doctor-Musicians

Ari Horesh

Are you a medical student with a burning passion for playing the piano? If the thought of juggling your studies with learning the ivories seems daunting, fear not. This guide will show you how to start playing the piano in medical school and strike the perfect balance between your studies and your love for music. Let's dive in!

Step 1: Set Realistic Goals

First things first, you need to establish what you want to achieve with your piano playing. Are you looking to become a concert pianist, or do you simply want to play for your own enjoyment? Establishing your goals will help you plan your practice sessions and set realistic expectations.

Example Goals:

  • Learn to play a specific piece of music
  • Improve your sight-reading skills
  • Perform at a local event or competition

Step 2: Find the Time

Medical school is notorious for its demanding schedule. To incorporate piano playing into your busy life, you'll need to get creative with your time management. Consider these strategies:

  • Prioritize: Identify your most important tasks and focus on them first. Once you've completed your essential study tasks, you can dedicate time to practicing piano.
  • Schedule: Allocate specific time slots in your daily or weekly routine for piano practice. This will ensure you stay consistent and committed to learning.
  • Maximize: Utilize any free time you have, such as breaks between classes or while waiting for a study group to start. Even a few minutes of practice can add up over time.

Remember, consistency is key. It's better to practice for shorter durations regularly than for long sessions sporadically.

Step 3: Choose a Learning Method

There are several ways to learn piano, and it's essential to choose a method that best suits your needs and schedule. Here are some options to consider:

  • Private Lessons: One-on-one instruction from a professional teacher is highly effective but can be time-consuming and expensive.
  • Group Classes: These provide a social and cost-effective alternative to private lessons but may not offer the same level of individualized attention.
  • Online Courses: Online piano courses offer flexibility and often cater to different skill levels. Look for courses with

comprehensive resources, video lessons, and progress tracking.

  • Self-teaching: If you prefer a DIY approach, you can teach yourself using instructional books, videos, and apps.

Try combining different learning methods to find what works best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and stay motivated.

Step 4: Establish a Practice Routine

A consistent practice routine is crucial for progress. Here are some tips to help you establish an effective routine:

  • Warm-up: Start your practice session with a warm-up that includes scales, arpeggios, and finger exercises. This will help improve your technique and prevent injuries.
  • Focus on Fundamentals: Dedicate a portion of your practice to mastering essential piano skills, such as sight-reading, music theory, and chord progressions.
  • Learn Repertoire: Choose pieces that align with your skill level and goals. Break them down into smaller sections, and practice each section slowly and accurately before increasing the tempo.
  • Measure Progress: Set milestones and track your progress over time. This will help you stay motivated and recognize your achievements.

Remember, quality practice is more important than quantity. Aim for focused, efficient sessions rather than mindlessly playing through pieces.

Step 5: Stay Inspired and Motivated

Maintaining enthusiasm for both medical school and piano playing can be challenging. Here are a few tips to help you stay inspired and motivated:

  • Find a Community: Connect with fellow medical students who share your passion for music, or join a local piano group. Sharing experiences and supporting each other can be incredibly motivating.
  • Attend Performances: Watching live piano performances or streaming concerts online can reignite your love for the instrument and provide inspiration for your own practice.
  • Participate in Competitions or Recitals: Setting performance goals can give you something to work towards and help you stay committed to your piano journey.

Step 6: Balance and Self-Care

Finally, don't forget to take care of yourself. Balancing medical school and piano playing can be demanding, but it's essential to prioritize your well-being. Here are some self-care tips:

  • Rest: Ensure you're getting enough sleep to help you stay focused and energized.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can reduce stress and improve your mental and physical health.
  • Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet to fuel your body and mind.
  • Relaxation: Incorporate relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, into your daily routine.
  • Socialize: Make time for friends and family to maintain a support system and prevent burnout.

Remember, it's okay to take breaks and adjust your schedule as needed. The key is to find a balance that allows you to excel in your medical studies while still enjoying your piano-playing journey.


Starting to play piano in medical school may seem like a daunting task, but with the right mindset, goals, and strategies, it's entirely possible. By setting realistic goals, managing your time effectively, choosing the best learning method, establishing a practice routine, staying inspired, and prioritizing self-care, you can conquer both medical school and the piano.

Now go forth, future doctor-musicians, and embrace the incredible journey of mastering both medicine and music!

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