He's got the beat

February 1, 2008

The staff at Vision for Life knows that when Dr. Horn is performing surgery, the music should be off. Otherwise, this Nashville ophthalmologist might start tapping out a rhythm.

Key Points

The staff at Vision for Life knows that when Dr. Horn is performing surgery, the music should be off. Otherwise, this Nashville ophthalmologist might start tapping out a rhythm.

Jeffrey D. Horn, MD, is a musician; actually, he is a drummer. "Drummers are a different breed-not really like other musicians," he said.

His interest in the drums began early, Dr. Horn added. When he was 6, he told his mother that he would be a famous drummer and live in Hollywood when he grew up. She tried, unsuccessfully, to steer him to the viola. "It was a no-go after only a couple months," he recounted.

At home, he'd bang out rhythms on Tupperware and pots and pans.

When Dr. Horn was 15 years old, he visited a friend who had drums at home. "I watched him play, and he taught me to play a simple rock beat," he said. "I picked it up quickly. At home, I listened to Beatles records and found the beat I had learned. Then, I taught myself variations. I bought books about drums."

But as graduation approached, so did reality. "I knew life would be tough as a professional drummer-always at the mercy of band members, songwriters, etc. It was too scary. I decided to go to medical school."

When he told his band's guitarist, the guy said, "But you have to be smart for that." Dr. Horn smiled. He continued to play drums throughout school, but his new goal was success in his career as an ophthalmologist.

"Drumming has taught me that if you set a goal and work toward it, you can accomplish anything," he said. "You have to work hard, have focus, and be dedicated to your goal."

Today, Dr. Horn has a professional drum set and a big house, so his wife and kids don't mind his playing. His oldest child, a son who is 7 years old, isn't drumming yet, but Dr. Horn said that he holds high hopes for his two younger kids.

Dr. Horn plays drums with friends, sits in at weddings (including his own), and looks for other musicians with whom to play. Once, he asked a patient who said he played the guitar whether they could "jam," later learning that the patient was Elvis' guitarist. Dr. Horn also has met Elvis' drummer and other legendary musicians in Nashville.

He likes the Who, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin and has been influenced by Ringo Starr, John Bonham of Led Zeppelin, and Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart.

Dr. Horn has learned complex music by trying to play "over his head," he said. He's had lessons here and there but is mainly self-taught. Even with his outstanding success in ophthalmology, Dr. Horn said he still dreams of playing the drums in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum or Madison Square Garden.