Are pianists at an advantage when learning surgical skills?

Would a pianist make a better surgeon? Isn’t this a fascinating question?

In a recent article in the journal Music and Medicine, a team of researchers studied a group of pianists to see if the benefits of learning piano translated into benefits when learning complex and refined motor skills in another domain, specifically surgical skills. They were investigating if music learning on a piano could benefit real life experiences of surgery, such as “basic surgical skills, such as suturing, [which] become difficult in cognitively demanding environments such as the operating room, containing a barrage of multisensory stimuli where the surgeon must triage and respond to clinically salient information.”

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Here is what they found – yes, pianists make better surgeons on the following tasks – performing surgical tasks faster and to a high quality and specifically for knot tying, which they found significantly better than their non-piano playing surgeons. We could not access the full article so we can’t give you the details on how long and how much the musicians learned piano for.

The researchers concluded that “Musical training in piano appeared to be of benefit in the initial stage of learning new simple surgical skills. This indicates that at least some aspects of a musicians’ skillset (such as fine motor control, bimanual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination) might be transferrable to an ostensibly disparate domain, and may be important for incorporation in surgical training where the skill of suturing can impact both surgical outcomes, patient safety, and patient satisfaction.”

Read more here

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