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A symphonic reaction: Bridging the gap between science and music

Most people wouldn't think music and science go together, but senior biochemistry and piano performance double major Alex Danielson is proving that's not the case.

Danielson is a fifth year at Miami and currently in the process of interviewing for medical schools.

He started playing the piano at the age of five, starting off with lessons from his grandmother. His parents encouraged him to continue taking lessons, and, in his senior year of high school, he made the decision to pursue piano further in college.

"It was kind of a last minute decision, but I really wanted to keep it a part of my life," said Danielson.

Medicine was also a long-term love for Danielson. He knew he'd wanted to become a doctor since eighth grade when his mother, who is a primary care doctor, encouraged him to shadow an orthopedic surgeon to fulfill requirements for a school project. Many of his family members are also doctors, which allowed Danielson to gain a good idea of what it means to be a doctor.

"I think I want to go into orthopedics, but it's hard to say before actually going through med school," said Danielson. "People usually don't decide until around their third year. I may go into primary care, because it's in high demand right now and I just want to go where I'm needed."

Biochemistry and piano performance are wildly different fields of study, but according to Danielson, the skills he's gained from being a music major have helped him greatly with his pre-medical studies.

"The creative aspect of music is very different from a lot of fields. You have to understand what the composer wants to say and how to convey it to the audience," says Danielson, "You have to do similar things in medicine involving communication and working with the patients."

Completing not one, but two, challenging majors takes a lot of dedication and commitment, but Danielson is in no shortage of them. However, according to Bobby Bennett, his childhood best friend, Danielson never complains about the amount of work he must take on.

"I've never met somebody with so much respect for the success of others and the understanding of their failures, and I think it's because he understands what it takes to do something meaningful," said Bennett.

His fellow music majors also notice the commitment Danielson has to follow his passions. Andrew Higgins, a fellow piano performance and pre-med double major, praised Danielson on his ability to balance such an intensive workload.

"He does it like no other: it requires balance and dedication that I haven't amounted to myself," said Higgins. "He's very focused in his studies, which correlates to his fantastic results, musically and academically."

Danielson is currently embarking on the interview phase of medical school application season and is hoping to attend either the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University or Case Western Reserve University next year.

He also plans to continue playing the piano, one part of his dual passions.

"It will definitely still be one of my priorities," said Danielson.