I am a GP living on the Mornington Peninsula in Rosebud, Victoria. Some of my patients also know that I’m a part-time jazz pianist and composer. I have played the piano since I was nine and fell in love with jazz when I was about 14 years old. But the call to medicine came when I was about 16, probably because I was initially thinking of doing medical research. After doing my medical degree and spending a few years in hospitals, then passing the surgical primary exam, I spent four years doing research in colon cancer toward a PhD. Alongside this, I did locums in general practice, including for a practice in Rosebud, and that is where I have been full-time since 1992. My wife, Jean, has been the inspiration for many of my compositions, but a number of composers and great jazz musicians have inspired my music, from Duke Ellington to the late Clare Fischer. It’s fun trying to strike the right balance between my GP work and jazz. When our children were small, family and medicine had to take priority. Although I kept my piano chops in shape with regular practice, I didn’t play any jazz gigs for seven years and found less time to write music. When the kids were a little older, I found more time to get out and play, and gradually more time to write. I have written music since the late-1970s, but my output was leaner in those busier years. In recent years I have found a little more time, although GP work still occupies the bulk of my daylight hours. Recently I was lucky enough to head to Los Angeles to record 12 of my own jazz compositions with the Grammy-winning composer/arranger Brent Fischer and a cast of fine US jazz musicians. Heading to Hollywood to record my album Colours Of Sound was truly surreal. It’s wonderful to hear people playing my tunes and bringing the music to life. Tunes arise in all sorts of circumstances and from various inspirations. What’s beautiful about Brent’s arrangements is that he’s completely maintained the character of each one, while enhancing them greatly with his incredible skill and the nuances that he delivers. The Australian launch of Colours of Sound takes place in Melbourne on 24 March. The whole experience has been wonderful. For me, music is fun, relaxing, stimulating, exciting and always a great adventure. I don’t see music consciously as therapy because it’s there all the time, more integrated, and I don’t need to switch it on. But I am sure it is good for all of us — doctors included. Creative pursuits of all kinds give purpose and meaning, and I am sure they’re great for everyone’s health.

Dr Simon Pilbrow
Mornington Peninsula, VIC