FACEPs in the Crowd: Dr. Dan Mayer

ACEP Fellow and retired emergency physician Dan Mayer, MD, FACEP, was 14 when his local YMCA began offering free guitar lessons. Soon he was hooked. He bought himself a cheap guitar and threw himself into learning the folk rock that was popular during the 1960s.

As Dr. Mayer went to medical school, became an emergency physician, got married and started a family, his guitar provided the soundtrack for many memories. Dr. Mayer played music for his children, and eventually his grandchildren, to sleep with the family’s favorite bedtime song—“Ripple” by the Grateful Dead.

Dr. Mayer playing for his daughter when she was young.

Fast forward to three years ago when Dr. Mayer, who retired in 2014 after 27 years as faculty at Albany (NY) Medical College, began driving his granddaughter to her classical guitar lessons. Though he had played the guitar since his teens, he wasn’t classically trained. As he watched her lessons, he thought to himself: It’s never too late to learn, right? He asked her teacher to give him lessons as well. Now, he’s swapping chords for notes and reading off music instead of playing it by ear. As he takes on more complicated songs, Dr. Mayer is reminded of how good it feels to learn something new. “It’s such a feeling of accomplishment,” he said.

Dr. Mayer’s wife suffers from dementia, and one of the things that changed with the onset of her illness was that she could no longer tolerate music being played in the house. That’s another pro for his switch to the classical guitar. “It’s quieter,” Dr. Mayer explained.