Playing it by ear

October 15, 2005

The eye isn't the only organ that consumes the time of one New York City ophthalmologist. For Hampson A. Sisler, MD, FACS, FAGO (Fellow, American Guild of Organists), his craft as a musician leads him to an organ of another sort. In fact, the 73-year-old physician has been a professional church organist much longer than he has been an ophthalmologist.

The eye isn't the only organ that consumes the time of one New York City ophthalmologist. For Hampson A. Sisler, MD, FACS, FAGO (Fellow, American Guild of Organists), his craft as a musician leads him to an organ of another sort. In fact, the 73-year-old physician has been a professional church organist much longer than he has been an ophthalmologist.

Dr. Sisler, like his grandmother before him, plays music by ear. His mother insisted that he also learn to read notes. He was playing the pump organ by kindergarten. His mother was, in his words, "progressive" and she marched him into St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue as a child and asked that he be given the chance to study there under the music director. She explained that the young Hampson was already a professional (as he was being paid $5 a week to play for Sunday services) and the music director gave the boy an audition.

Dr. Sisler said he was the youngest member of the AGO to achieve fellowship, doing so in high school.

"I love the minutiae. The inside of the eyeball is wonderful to study," he said. He also wonders if his nearsightedness in childhood propelled his desire to understand and improve vision.

Immersed in music

Dr. Sisler spends much of his remaining time at Central Presbyterian where he is the organist and choir director.