Behind the Scenes

Surgeons Get Their Jam On

By Elissa Bass

The relationship between music and medicine dates back to 4000 BC, when “hallelujah to the healer” was played as partial payment for medicinal services. And, while these days no one is offering their Spotify playlist to their doctor to cover a bill, music is still prevalent, especially in the operating room.

In fact, a 2014 survey of surgeons at the University Hospital of Wales found that tunes are played 62 to 72 percent of the time in the OR, with the playlist most often chosen by the lead surgeon.

Around 80 percent of surgical teams reported that music benefits communication among team members, reduces anxiety levels and improves efficiency.

Music also appears to enhance surgical performance by increasing task focus, particularly among surgeons who listen to music regularly, the survey showed.

We were curious about Hartford HealthCare’s surgical playlists, so we asked doctors from around the system what they liked to listen to while operating.

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast, To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

~ William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, 1697

Dr. William McGeehin

General surgeon, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital

The right music at the right volume has a soothing, stabilizing and calming effect over the room. I prefer country music to be playing while I operate.

Dr. Imran Siddiqui

Oncology surgeon, St. Vincent’s Medical Center

I rarely listen to stuff in the OR, but if I do it’s usually classical or opera – Indian classical or Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti.

Dr. David Coletti

General surgeon, president of the medical staff, Backus Hospital

Dave Matthews Band or U2 are my preferred performers, but I also take requests from the OR nursing staff.

Dr. Brian Coyle

Vascular surgeon, MidState Medical Center

I start every carotid surgery with David Gray’s “Caroline,” a tradition I carry on from my mentor who played it during my fellowship. Other artists on my playlist include: Crosby, Stills and Nash; Fleetwood Mac; Bruce Springsteen; Van Morrison; The Eagles; Dave Matthews Band; Jimmy Buffett; Journey; Tom Petty; and The Grateful Dead.

Dr. Tamara Myers

Associate chief of surgery, East Region General surgeon, Windham Hospital

My playlist includes classic rock from the 70s, 80s and 90s. I like anything by Led Zeppelin, my favorite band; Queen; Guns N’ Roses; Ozzy Osbourne; AC/DC; Aerosmith; Van Halen; and Deep Purple. For difficult cases, I add Metallica (“Enter Sandman”); Rage Against the Machine; Scorpions (“Rock you Like A Hurricane”); Boston; Foreigner; Pink Floyd (“Wish You Were Here”); and Heart (“Crazy on You”). From the 80s, I listen to David Bowie, Duran Duran, U2 and George Michael. My 70s favorites are The Bee Gees, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel and Linda Ronstadt. I also throw in some Fugees, Bob Marley and Run DMC.

Dr. Chike Chukwumah

General and hernia surgeon, Hartford Hospital

I listen to Afrobeat, a genre that is a combination of West African musical styles like Fuji music and highlife with American funk and jazz influences. My favorite artists are Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido and P-square.

Dr. Miriam Zargar-Hakim

Orthopedic surgeon, Charlotte Hungerford Hospital

The OR staff know to put Michael Jackson on
for me. I love to listen to Michael Jackson because of his immense God-given talent, and it keeps me calm.

Dr. Sergio Rafael Casillas-Romero

Chief, general surgery, Backus Hospital

The Bee Gees. No more needs be said.

Dr. Camelia Lawrence

Director of breast surgery, The Hospital of Central Connecticut and MidState Medical Center

I usually ask the patient before surgery, and then play their favorite song as they are drifting off during anesthesia. My personal playlist includes reggae, R&B soul, country and gospel, and Bob Marley, Kenny G, Aaron Neville, Frank Sinatra, Ann Nesby, Shirley Caesar, Patti LaBelle and the Dixie Chicks. Two favorite songs are “Even if My Heart Would Break” by Kenny G and “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.


Research shows that listening to tunes you love releases all the right chemicals to fight off stress and depression.

Help us create a feel-good playlist by emailing a favorite song to
We’ll share it in the next issue of Moments.