Paul Fine, MD: Physician, Teacher, Composer

(University of Michigan Medical School)

What do you do at UMHS?

I’m a primary care physician. I also precept residents’ clinic and supervise residents on a general medicine hospital service. I teach clinical skills to M1’s and M2’s, give seminars on clinical topics to M3’s, and run the clinical refresher course for students returning to clinical work after time away for research.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love the variety. Each day is different and I get to spend significant time teaching and seeing patients, activities that I enjoy and view as very important (in an idealistic way).

When you’re not working, what do you do?

I enjoy spending time with my wife (Karen) and 3 kids (Derek, Ellie, and Ben), composing piano music, reading, writing, jogging, attending concerts, listening to music or liberal arts lectures on my iPod, and watching sports.

Composing piano music?

I’ve been composing since I was 6 years old and have produced five CD’s of original music. I’ve enjoyed giving the CD’s to interested patients and have been humbled by their enthusiastic response (that is clearly out of proportion to my actual musical abilities!). I believe the shared music has often added an important dimension to our “doctor-patient relationships.”

Interview with Paul L. Fine

 August 2011, Mainly Piano

KP: Hi Paul! How are things in Michigan today?

PF: Things are a little hot today. Of course, I prefer temperatures in the 50’s-60’s, so it’s not too surprising that I find it too hot in August!

KP: You’d love it here on the Oregon Coast! You recently released Measuring Up, your fifth CD of original compositions. How is it doing?

PF: It is doing well, thanks. It’s very early yet for sales, but I have given copies to a number of my family members, friends, and patients. Their enthusiastic response has been very gratifying.

KP: I think it’s your best album yet and really enjoyed reviewing it! When did you start playing the piano?

PF: At the age of five. I have no recollection of how or why it got into my head, but I asked my parents if I could take lessons and they let me give it a try.

KP: How long did you take piano lessons?

PF: Right up until my high school years.

KP: Do you play any other musical instruments?

PF: No. I do sing badly, however.

KP: When did you start composing music?

PF: I started almost immediately after I began playing. In fact, my first grade class put words to one of my first pieces and made it into a song called “Let’s Go to the Bakery”! I’m sure you’ve heard of it . . .

KP: Yes! It was a big hit for somebody in the late 60‘s wasn’t it? It’s apparent that you’ve been passionate about the piano most of your life. Did you ever consider a career in music?

PF: Not really. In truth, I wasn’t a great piano student. Part of the reason, ironically, is the fact that I was able to play by ear and compose pretty well from the start. It was easier for me to sit and play what was in my head than to learn well how to read and play other people’s music. So, though I played a lot, I didn’t practice as much as I should have!