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Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 111918 — Kathryn Clark

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Another unique and compelling voice joins the #sparkchamber chorus today, all the way from Auckland, New Zealand, the one and only Kathryn Clark, a.k.a., The Singing Doctor. An Emergency Room Medicine specialist with a subspecialty in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, this Canadian ex-pat was immersed in music from the moment she arrived into her music-loving family in Nova Scotia. In concert with her love of music was a love of science — discovering how things worked, uncovering the organizing principles in chemistry, biology, and physics. She considered medicine when applying to university, but ultimately went to Dalhousie University for a degree in Voice Performance. Through her college years, she sang in bands and nightclubs, at weddings, funerals, hockey games, and even for the Pope! Vocal ulcerations forced her to stop singing in her final year of university, so she took up personal training … and went right back to school, earning a BSc in Kinesiology [sports science].

On a soul-searching travel adventure in 2001, she visited New Zealand and immediately fell in love with Auckland. She applied to med school there and has never looked back.

In her own words: “I always wanted to be the person who could be helpful at the side of the road in an emergency. I chose medicine because of the interaction of people, the human condition, and the science and the art of medicine. It met all my own needs.

Music is still in my heart and soul, and I hope to get back at it more now that the training is done. But medicine is ever-changing and the learning never-ending — every day is a learning day and it keeps my brain interested and active!

I think of music as feeding my soul. There is almost always a tune running through my consciousness. Music connects me to myself, to others, to emotions hiding in the depths — I couldn’t live without it. Medicine feeds my analytical and practical mind. Problem-solving, but with a connection to others. I need both. And though music involves the left-brain analytical thought as well, I don’t tend to think about it … it just is.

When I bring music to my clinical practice, it creates connection with patients I wouldn’t likely achieve otherwise. Calming or distracting a child with a children’s song, joining the in-patient psychiatric patients in their Sunday waiata singing, or joining a whanau in their tunes for/with their loved ones, singing at the memorial service at hospice. It doesn’t get any better than that!

NZ is the perfect place for this; a beautiful, soulful musical culture. One last thing from Friedrich Nietzsche: Without music, life would be a mistake.

Kathryn is not alone in the journey from music to medicine. Med schools recruit for musical ability!

1.] Where do ideas come from?

Responses to emotions that take you outside your comfort zone. Fear, love, excitement, concern. And a desire to do something about those feelings.

2.] What is the itch you are scratching? 

A fulfilment of self and appeasement of id and super-ego.

3.] What is the itch you are scratching?

Definitely a night owl. Always more productive later in the day and into the night. Starting is the most difficult part of the process. Once I’ve done that continuing is easy.

4.] How do you know when you are done?

I’m done when I’m done, though I might not be finished.