The pandemic took a heavy toll on health care workers, but one Fort Worth woman is looking to give them a new creative outlet.

Susan Fain is putting together an orchestra composed of medical professionals that she hopes will relieve stress and promote better work-life balance. The nonprofit musical organization aims to have rehearsals at the beginning of fall and hopes to produce a regular concert season of five to six events. 

Fain is a freelance professional flutist who plays with the Great Falls Symphony and the Fort Worth Civic Orchestra. She has a doctorate in musical arts in flute performance from the University of Oklahoma and taught flute and music appreciation courses at Eastern Washington University and various colleges in Oklahoma.

She started playing the flute in the seventh grade. Growing up in the ’60s, she was told girls couldn’t play percussion, so she opted to join her best friend as a flutist instead. While it wasn’t her first choice, she fell in love with the instrument.  

“Even though in today’s world that sounds horrifying, it was the best thing to ever happen to me,” she said. “I’m glad I play the flute, not percussion.” 

While she loves performing, she quickly realized that music doesn’t pay very well. Fain needed to find a day job, so she went back to school to become a physical therapist. At the time, it only required a bachelor’s degree, which meant she still had time to pursue music while also raising her kids. That discipline and delayed gratification are needed to succeed in both music and medicine, Fain said. 

“You have to work really hard and for a long time before you see any ​​progress,” she said. “You have to be motivated to keep at it even when it’s difficult,” she said. 

She believes this project will be an excellent way for medical workers to exercise the creative side of their brains. This nonprofit orchestra is still in the planning stage, but Fain plans to post dates for auditions in September.

In the future, Fain hopes that the orchestra will be able to raise money for health-related charities.

“It’s going to take us a while to get on our feet,” she said. “But once we do … what I’m planning on is letting each different concert have a different charity.”

How to get involved

Email Susan Fain at sdfain1@gmail.com for more details.

There are only a few similar orchestras like this around the country, including two in Texas – in Houston and Austin.

The orchestra needs about 40 to 60 performers, but it already has a conductor on board. Matthew Lovelace is currently getting a doctorate in music from Texas Christian University. He has been an orchestra teacher for about five years and currently teaches orchestra at Colony High School.

“I thought the opportunity sounded fantastic,” he said. “I love working with musicians.”

For reasons he can’t explain, he always gravitated toward conducting when he would go to concerts as a kid. He was curious about what the person waving their arms around was doing. 

“As I became more educated in what that was, it was something that really stuck out to me as something that I was really interested in doing,” he said. 

It is common for people who study medicine to also be interested in music, he said. He knows a lot of medical students that often double major in music or play in their college orchestra. 

“People who are going to work hard and study hard enough to become a doctor or some licensed professional in the medical area, they’re very committed to what they’re doing,” he said. “So they’re usually very committed to learning their instruments and performing to a high level.” 

Lovelace believes that playing music together is something special that can’t be replicated by other activities because all orchestra members need to be completely “solid” in their part so that the final product is a thing of beauty.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for medical professionals in the community to continue playing music,” he said.

Juan Salinas II is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at juan.salinas@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter.

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Juan Salinas II

Juan Salinas II is currently studying journalism at UT-Arlington. He is a transfer student from TCC, where he worked at the student newspaper, The Collegian, and his reporting has also appeared in Central...