The Royal Conservatory’s alumni have gone on to great success in a wide range of fields, from music and the arts to business, sports, and medicine.
Dr. Robert Hegele and Dr. Richard Hegele each obtained an Associate of The Royal Conservatory (ARCT) diploma, and both have achieved great prominence as physicians and researchers.
Dr. Robert Hegele, MD FRCPC FACP, is an endocrinologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario, as well as Director of the Blackburn Cardiovascular Genetics Lab at Robarts Research Institute and London Regional Genomics Center.
Dr. Richard Hegele, MD, FRCPC, PhD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology at the University of Toronto, as well as Chief of the Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children.
Recently, the brothers spoke with The Royal Conservatory and described how their Conservatory music training contributed to their subsequent success in medicine.
How old were you when you started your musical training, and how did it come about?
Dr. Robert Hegele: I began piano lessons with Mrs. Ruth Ferma at age five, with prompting and encouragement from our mother in particular.
Dr. Richard Hegele: I was five years old when I began piano lessons, following in the footsteps of my brother.
What techniques did you use to stay motivated?
Dr. Robert Hegele: Motivation was difficult at times, especially when starting out. Our teacher and parents used every trick in the book to keep the momentum going (and in retrospect I’m very glad they did). Later, preparation for competitions, recitals and performances definitely helped to focus the mind.
Dr. Richard Hegele: Opportunities for playing in different contexts (solo, ensemble) and discovering different repertoire.
How has your musical training helped you in your career? If you still actively play, do you think your career as helped contribute to further musical growth?
Dr. Robert Hegele: Musical training helped me to develop the skills to set and work towards short and long term goals. I wish I had more time to play nowadays, but when I can find time to do so, it’s always a welcome therapeutic diversion.
Dr. Richard Hegele: My musical training has helped my career development in many ways: goal setting, perseverance, discipline, rhythm and dexterity, and taking a long-term perspective. In addition, those three- hour theory exams prepared me exceptionally well for what I had to deal with in medical school. Today, I enjoy many opportunities to play at various functions and it is especially fun to provide piano accompaniment for my daughter Rose, an up-and-coming soprano.
What advice would you give hopeful musicians and/or medical students?
Dr. Robert Hegele: Nothing that’s worthwhile in life comes without some self-sacrifice and struggle. Also, your ability to constructively react to failure and setbacks is in the long run more important than being able to string together a series of successes and accomplishments.
Dr. Richard Hegele: No matter how you try to cut it, success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.
How many of your colleagues (that you’re aware of) are musicians?
Dr. Robert Hegele: I have noticed over the years that there’s a strong linkage between accomplishment in music and success in medicine.
Dr. Richard Hegele: Too many to count.
You can also: