Our Radio Show and blog features Dr. Lance Irons, Resident Physician in Psychiatry and musician. Many of the world’s medical doctors, scientist, chemists, mathematicians, writers, and teachers have studied and played musical instruments since they were children. These eminent individuals have integrated music into their thinking process. Included are two articles on how studying musical instruments improves scholastic achievement. Our article of the month is “How Blessings Pull You Through Difficult Times” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Radio Show Feature Question for May 2020: “Dr. Lance Irons, how does Classical music play a part of your life as a Resident Physician in Psychiatry and musician and what musical instruments do you play?



Dr. Lance Irons is a Resident Physician in Psychiatry and musician. Lance is passionate about helping his patients improve their health, learning and research, as well as music.

Lance and his four siblings are 5th generation musicians on their mother’s side, and on their father’s side, they are 6th generation musicians, continuing their family’s musical legacy. They play the violin, oboe, tenor saxophone, flute, piccolo, clarinet, and piano.

Early years:

Dr. Frank: “Lance where were you born, what are your parents names, and where were you raised?”

Lance “I was born in 1992 to Becky Irons and Lee Irons in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and I grew up in Yorktown, VA.

 Dr. Frank: “Do your siblings and parents play musical instruments?”

 Lance: “Yes, we grew up in a family where when we were in Elementary school, our parents sat us down and asked us what instrument would we like to play. It was almost like an expectation in our house that each child would play an instrument.”

Dr. Frank: “When did you begin studying the violin?”

Lance: “I began studying the violin in the third grade, with you Dr. Frank. I continued studying for seven years and played on your “student concerts”, twice a year. On these concerts, I played solos with piano, chamber music with three of my siblings, and in your chamber orchestra. My siblings and I also played in the Youth Orchestra of Colonial Virginia that my parents started. My siblings and I used our music skills to play chamber music together for church.

Dr. Frank: “Did you also study and play any other musical instruments?”

Lance: “Yes, I played the Oboe starting in Fifth grade so I could perform in band during middle school and high school. I also learned the tenor saxophone for marching band in High School and I know a little piano. For Oboe I went to undergrad with a musical performance scholarship, unfortunately I was unable to continue due to the work load juggling pre-med classes and a musical performance minor.”

Dr. Frank: “When did you become interested in mathematics?”  

Lance: “I was in accelerated math courses in elementary school and then did higher level math courses in middle school and high school. Besides some basic physics concepts and physiological equations.”

Dr. Frank: “When did you become interested in science?”

Lance: “I was always interested in science, I think it was because I found it easy to memorize factual information.”

Dr. Frank: “Were you a good student in school?”

Lance: “I was an A/B student in most grade levels that I was in. I did my homework, studied, and generally enjoyed school.”

Dr. Frank: “What was your favorite subject at high school and did you have a favorite teacher who inspired you?”  

Lance: “My favorite subject in high school was my AP English 11 class with Mr. Green. He was passionate about the subject he taught and really made a difference in regards to my writing ability. He is probably one of the reasons why I enjoy sitting down with a cup of coffee and a muffin at a coffee shop and writing research articles now.”

Dr. Frank: “Did you play sports in high school?”

Lance: “Yes, I did track and field in high school and was a long-distance runner.”

Dr. Frank: “In high school what clubs were you a member of?

Lance: “I was the Vice president of our National Honor Society chapter. I was also a part of the Spanish Club and participated in extracurricular theater productions.”  

Dr. Frank: “Did you have a job after school in high school?”  

Lance:  “ I worked at a Quiznos for a while and I also worked seasonally at Busch Gardens.”

Dr. Frank: “Did you play your oboe in any musical groups while you were in Old Dominion University and did you play classical music while you were studying?”

Lance: “In my first year at university I was in the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra, and had private lessons for Oboe. I also sang occasionally when the opportunity arose. I usually played classical music in the background while studying.”

Dr. Frank: “Did any of your college professors at ODU advise and support you on your educational journey?”

Lance: “Dr. Robin Lewis acted as an advisor and great support for me on my educational journey. Dr. Lewis was both a psychology professor of mine as well as my research supervisor when I worked in the sexual minority health lab at ODU.

Dr. Frank: Lance, “Were you in a work study program while at ODU? Any scholarships?”

Lance: “During my first year of undergrad, I worked as a front desk worker at my dorm. I received an academic scholarship while I attended ODU.”

Dr. Frank: “Did you receive any honors or awards while at ODU?”

Lance: “I received a perfect 4.0 in my 4th year of undergrad and was on the Dean’s list all four years in undergrad. I was also in the honors college all four years.”

Dr. Frank: “At Old Dominion University what was your major and minor in and when did you graduate?”  

Lance: “I graduated from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia in 2015 and earned a Bachelor’s in Science degree with a major in psychology and a minor in biology.”

Dr. Frank: “During the summer time, after earning your degree at Old Dominion did you have a job?” 

Lance: “I worked as a residential counselor at a Child and Adolescent Psychiatric residential facility between undergrad and medical school.”

Dr. Frank: “Lance when did you decide you wanted to become a medical doctor, a psychiatrist?”

Lance: “I first got interested in that course of action in middle school after an online job exam. It was cemented in high school after I took an AP psychology class.”

Dr. Frank: “At ODU and at medical school were you a member of the science club or any other clubs?”

Lance: “Yes, I was a part of multiple clubs through college and medical school. These included Pre-med club at ODU as well as the Psychiatry Interest Group and EVMS Alliance the LGBTQ organization on campus at EVMS.”

Dr. Frank: “Did you receive any scholarships or honors while in medical school?”

Lance: “I received the Florence L. Smith Scholarship and was inducted into the Society of Smith Scholars as well as an academic scholarship. I received the Hampton Roads Pride Scholarship for my work in research into public health outcomes in the LGBTQ population as well as my volunteer activities both in my local and school LGBTQ organizations as well as the States LGBTQ organization Equality Virginia. I also received the Sentara Hospitals Norfolk Medical Staff Scholarship in honor of Paul A. Sayegh as the most impressive medical student going into a psychiatry residency from my class as judged by the medical staff at Sentara Hospitals in Norfolk VA.”

“While in Medical School I received an honors in my psychiatry and OBGYN clerkship. I also won the 2nd place award for my research poster presentation at the Psychiatric Society of Virginia Conference for my poster titled, “No Hit Zone: Corporal Punishment Prohibition in an Urban Academic Pediatric Practice.”

Dr. Frank: “Where did you earn your medical degree and when did you graduate?”

Lance: “I earned my MD at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk VA and graduated in 2019.”

Dr. Frank: Dr. Lance Irons, “Did any of your medical professors inspire you?”    

Lance: “The most impactful I would say was Dr. Lisa Fore-Arcand who wasn’t a professor but more of an advisor. She wrote letters of recommendation for was the faculty advisor for the psychiatry interest group which I was president of and generally helped me tremendously in my medical career.”

“In regards to a professor Dr. Kerry who taught cellular and molecular biology probably was one of the more memorable of my professors. She would also play music before each lecture and although she didn’t play classical music she would play some sort of rock song that would tie in to the lecture and help us remember what we were learning that day.”

Dr. Frank:  Lance, “What hospital and specialty are you working in?”

Lance: “I am currently a first-year resident physician in Psychiatry at the University Hospital of Brooklyn/ SUNY Downstate psychiatry residency program.”

Dr. Frank: “How has playing the violin, oboe, and tenor saxophone helped you through your university and medical studies?

Lance: “I gained a much greater appreciation for music and the power of music to shape my mood, my focus, and my outlook. I think it also helped build a good foundation in discipline and the importance of developing a skill. Something that is unique to psychiatry and in a way,  surgery as well compared to other medical specialties is the requirement of a certain level of clinical skill and adaptiveness in therapeutic approach based on unforeseen variables. Kind of like reading a new piece of music, every patient represents a different song and melody. They all come with their own baggage and life stories that requires immense amounts of practice to piece through effectively empathetically, and efficiently. Something that comes with practice on musical instruments.”

“I have also seen that with patients who attend music therapy and are able to express themselves in ways they otherwise would have difficulty expressing themselves in.”  

Dr. Frank: “In medical school and as a first-year resident do you play classical music while you study?”

 Lance: “I do at times play classical music while studying. I have a spotify playlist of classical music I enjoy listening to. I do occasionally pull out my instruments to play when I have time.”

Dr. Frank: “Do you enjoy working with your patients?”  

Lance: “I love my work now especially the time I get to spend with patient’s unlike other parts of the medical field a majority of the psychiatrists’ data on patient care comes from the interview. This allows for us to have a lot of time speaking with our patients and really getting to know their lives at a deep and personal level.”

Dr. Frank: “Thank you Dr. Lance Irons, Resident Physician in Psychiatry and musician for sharing your work and helping your patients improve their health.”


 “How Blessings Pull You Through Difficult Times” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

During difficult times do you count your blessings?

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and I am thankful for a wonderful caring mother, grandmother, mother-in-law and Aunt -in-law. Do you give thanks for your blessings? Every year we have special days to remind us to give thanks. We should give thanks every day for our blessings.

My Momma, Romayne Leader Frank arranged her law classes so she would be home when my older brother and I got home from elementary school. She’d have milk and cookies on the dining room table for my brother and I and she would join us with her coffee. We would all study together every day after school. Momma had her law books to study and my brother and I had our homework from elementary school to study. If you had a question Momma would say very softly, “How about opening your book and looking for the answer?”

As a child of 8, I remember thinking that it didn’t feel quite so lonely and awful anymore to sit and do our homework because Momma was right there with us doing her homework too. We worked together for three years until Momma finished law school at the top of her class. Momma, Romayne Leader Frank taught us to look for the answers to our problems. She taught us to think for ourselves.

Mary Chernick Leader,my Grandmother, my Momma’s mother, worked as a secretary at the Boroughs Corporation, had a women’s stock club where she taught other women how to study companies and invest in the stock market with little money to develop a nest egg. She also helped the Braille Society and sang and played the mandolin in a Mandolin Orchestra. She raised a wonderful daughter my Momma, Romayne Leader Frank, who learned from her patience, kindness, dedication to her family and caring about others.My Grandma Leader enjoyed reading and doing cross word puzzles and had a remarkable vocabulary which she shared with her daughter, my Momma.

When I was a child of 7, I remember Grandma Leader sitting patiently with me encouraging me to read. She had a Hershey’s Chocolate bar and a bottle of soda pop on the table nearby and every page of the book I read to her I would receive the prize of a bite of chocolate and a sip of soda pop. This was a big treat as both Momma and Grandma did not ordinarily let any of us eat candy or soda pop.

My Mother-in-Law, Pearl Neustein Berger was the 6th child out of 8 children born to Regina and Herman Neustein. Pearl Berger raised her two children, ages 5 and 13, when her husband Samuel Berger died of Cancer. She worked hard to provide for her children giving them good moral values, taught them to study and work hard, and to care about helping others. She had them go to religious services every week. She worked hard to make sure both her children went to college and graduate school.

For many years she worked at B. Altman’s in New York City, a wonderful department store. I remember, shortly after my husband Allan and I were married, my husband had to register for his next semester of graduate school and he could not get off work to go to Barnard Baruch to register. I was working that day too. His Mom, Pearl Berger, had that day off from work and she said she would get him registered at the school. She was always willing to help her children and others. She was one of the most caring and honorable people I have had the pleasure to know. She was five feet one inches tall and to me she was one of the tallest and strongest women I have known because of her caring and commitment to her family, friends and helping others.

Pearl Berger’s sister, my Aunt-in-Law, Helen Neustein was the 7th child of the family. Helen also worked at B. Altman’s Department store in the shoe department. She was a wonderful person with a very big heart raised with the values of honor and respect just like her sister Pearl. My husband, Allan, remembers her playing baseball with him as a child. She was always patient and kind. Helen was also about 5 foot one inch tall but she seemed 6 feet tall because of her caring and commitment to her family, friends, and clients.

During difficult times what are 3 things you can do to remember the blessings you have been given?

1) Start your day by remembering and writing down your blessings in a notebook or journal. Think of one person who has made a positive impact on your life and do something nice for them.

2) Honor a special person in your life on a weekly basis by acts of kindness to others.

3) Think of the people who have made a difference in your life and call them, write them a letter, email them, text them, or write a blog /article about them to share their legacy with others.

Remember to start your day by counting your blessings!

What have I learned from my Momma, Romayne Leader Frank, my Grandma Mary Chernick Leader, my Mother-in-Law, Pearl Neustein Berger, and my Aunt-in-Law, Helen Neustein?

1) Be patient and persistent no matter how difficult the problem and keep working to find your solution.

2) Never be overwhelmed by adversity and stick to your course of action to solve the problem.

3) Remember that if we help others we will be helping ourselves at the same time.

To contact Madeline for your next virtual event email her at [email protected]

“Dr. Shannon Burton Principal, Playing a Musical Instrument” (Feb. 5, 2020) by Dr. Shannon Burton.
“8 reasons children should play musical instruments.” Studying a musical instrument teaches “goal attainment, responsibility, listening skills, social skills, confidence, brain strengthening, stress busting, and coordination.”

“Learning A Musical Instrument Helps Children to Achieve Higher Grades. Here’s Why” (June 25, 2019) Wency Leung.

 “The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Educational Psychology on Monday, examined the school records of nearly 113,000 public school students in B.C. It found those who took music classes over many years, starting as early as Grade 5, had higher Grade 10 and Grade 12 exam scores in math, science and English than those who did not participate in music.”



“The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook 


Barnes and Noble(Nook)




“Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun easy way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook.


Barnes and Noble(Nook)



Tips on how to use “Musical Notes On Math” 



 Madeline’s Midnight Melodies- Music From around the World”. This CD complements her books with a blend of dance music, gigues, tangos, ballet and favorites including “Danny Boy”, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” and others. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” is music to relax by and to move by for music therapy.  “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” CD is now available for purchase by downloading a song, downloading the album, or by CD by clicking below:

Download Your Copy Today!  Amazon | iTunes | CD Baby

Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is available through amazon. To order your copy of “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget”  as an e-book on Kindle click on the following link:


Wishing you and your family a Happy Mother’s Day from your Non-Invasive Medicine…Music Expert, Madeline

For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award-winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker, conductor, and concert artist. She has found a scientific link between studying and/or listening to musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2020 Madeline Frank.