Making Music Magazine
"Musician Physicians: The Connection Between Music and Medicine"
In some ways, music and medicine are in separate worlds. Medicine is fact-based and concrete, while music is ever-changing, emotional, and creative. But in other ways, the two are remarkably similar. Music, like a good doctor, can heal. It connects with people like a therapeutic touch or talk, and both music and medicine involve an intimate human connection. For the doctors profiled here, music and medicine define their lives as they maintain a balance between medical and musical practice.
David White: "Music is always waiting for me"
Born and raised in Plano, Texas, David White calls Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville, home today. His love of music started with teenage garage bands, inspired also by his older brother—a musician and dentist. David played electric and acoustic guitar and piano, but his heart gravitated toward songwriting. “My mom bought my dad a classical guitar, I think because she wanted one, but neither of them played it. But I played it all the time,” he says. "Willie Nelson' guitar was completely beat up, scratched up, and I wanted mine to look like his. So, I took a screw driver to it and completely damaged it so it would look road worthy, road worn.”
While White quickly learned to lay off the do-it-yourself guitar antiquing, he never lost his love of playing, even in the thick of medical school at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He specialized in pediatrics and began his residency at the Wake Forest Medical Center in North Carolina. Drawn to Nashville, he transferred to Vanderbilt University.
“I decided I wanted to try professional music as a songwriter,” he says. And as he finished his residency, he learned to juggle his two passions. “There are seasons in life where you have very little time, very little music. But then there are seasons with lots of extra time. If you’re serious, you find a way to work it in. I think time management is crucial and that’s not unique to physicians. For anyone who works full-time or has a demanding job—time management is key.”
Today, White is part of a private pediatric practice near Nashville. He released a new album, "Long Roots", June 9, and recently became a father for the third time. The album, which took three years to complete, shows off White’s songwriting, playing, singing, and production skills. “I wanted to do as much of it myself as I could so I could learn and understand the process,” he says.
“One of the caveats of a dual career is sometimes you have to set things aside. That’s true in life for everybody, I think. Patients take first priority. There might be a time where life is very demanding, a month or two where music is pushed to the side. But the good thing is the music is always waiting like a faithful puppy. And it always feels fresh coming back to it.”
Jessica Novak is a feature writer with Making Music Magazine