Rising Piano Fire

Calvin Lee, MD on Piano


Dr. Tammy Wu Plastic Surgeon &
Dr. Calvin Lee (me), General Surgeon / Acupuncturist


Rising Piano Fire

The greatest sense of fine motor control comes from playing a musical instrument.  There is nothing else that I know which develops as much discriminating ability for the hands.  Diligent and purposeful practicing of musical instruments also allows one to develop habits and strategies that last a lifetime when it comes to perfecting other motor skills such as delicate surgical maneuvers.  Playing the violin and piano has helped us become better surgeons.  Dr. Wu plays piano, and Dr. Lee plays violin (and now plays the piano).  Besides dexterity, music enhances the artistic capacities of our minds and helps us realize the art in our surgeries.

Surgical Artistry, Inc. - (209) 551-1888
2336 Sylvan Ave. Suite C, Modesto, CA 95355

Why "Rising Piano Fire"

"Rising Piano Fire" is derived from "Rising Liver Fire."  Rising liver fire is a condition in acupuncture and Chinese medicine which leads to ringing in the ears, irritability, muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders, rising blood pressure, and insomnia.  The piano has caused all these things in my life.  I'm an acupuncturist and general surgeon - the piano has really brought more joy to me than rising liver fire.  I just really liked the term rising liver fire.  Plus, a grand piano sort of has a shape of the liver.

My Music background

  • Started piano at age 5, quit at age 10.
  • Started violin at age 7.
  • Started tinkering with the piano again in 2006, current piano teacher Yan Yan Chan.

I love music - it has done so much for me and is a big part of my life.  Around November 2006, we bought a piano, it was mainly for Tammy to play; however, I got some piano time in as well, and decided to keep playing.

International Van Cliburn Amateur Piano Competition

For amateurs over the age of 35 who play piano.  The next one is to be held in the summer of 2011.  I thought I would try.  One way to get into this competition in 2011 is to be the winner of the YouTube amateur piano competition put on by the Van Cliburn Foundation.  It sounded like fun.


Here's the video I've submitted to the YouTube contest


Click on the button above (sometimes you have to click twice).
The two pieces are:  Chopin Etude Op. 10 No. 1, and Debussy Arabesque #1
My YouTube account is:  RisingLiverFire (one word)

How does one vote?  Note: Voting is over for 2008.

  • Go to http://www.cliburn.org
  • Sign the guest book
  • On May 1, 2008 you will be mailed a email ballot to vote for your favorite pianist
  • Voting is now over.  Congratulations to Christopher Shih on winning the contest.
  • I'll try again in 2009!

Where are the other pianists?

I thought you played the violin for fun

  • True, violin is my main instrument.  I secretly took up playing piano about 2 years ago (I played piano as a kid but quit around age 10).  Now I'm coming out with "I like piano too."  Here's a violin "video"  It's mainly just the sound.  I added some pictures just so I can get it onto YouTube.


Calvin Lee on the Violin playing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto 1st movement (excerpt)

Click here to open the video in a separate window
(so you can view the vid and picture guide below at the same time)

Picture Guide:
0:00 At McHenry Museum with members of Modesto Symphony Orchestra
0:08 at the fat cat getting ready for heavy metal on two violins
0:16 with Rachel Barton Pine on stage
0:24 Rachel Barton Pine on stage flinging bow
0:32 with Rachel Barton Pine.  Those are her CD's
0:40 with Rachel Barton Pine trying looking like metal heads - not very successful
0:48 yes it was a big moment for me to play with famous Rachel Barton Pine
0:56 another on stage rehearsal moment with Rachel Barton Pine
1:04 in Turlock in front of Stan State
1:12 construction on my new office - Surgical Artistry, Inc.
1:20 the ceiling of my new office being constructed
1:28:  More construction
1:36 more construction
1:44 getting closer to completion
1:52:  Even closer to completion.  We moved in October 2006
2:00 hand X-ray:  This means that you're going to see more clinical pictures.
2:08 Trauma pager 5:50 am.  Ugh.  My "shift" is over at 6am.  I took these pictures way after the trauma - don't worry I have my priorities straight.
2:16 Trauma pager says:  "mechanism gun shot"
2:24 ETA 2 minutes!
2:32 in the OR at Stanislaus Surgical Hospital
2:40 Random on stage picture at Stan State.  I was actually playing piano there, but I couldn't resist trying out their Steinway D.
2:48 Other plastic surgeons that my wife knows
2:56 On TV talking about veins.  Local TV.
3:04 Getting ready for Docs Play the Pops.  Dr. Tom Wallace saw my new Steinway didn't even take off his motorcycle helmet.  The power of a new Steinway.  He plays the piano very very well.
3:12 The Docs play the pops publicity photo - Docs play the pops is a Doctor music recital and raises money for MJC (Modesto Junior College) music education.
3:20 Me sitting at a desk
3:28 Picture in the plastic surgery photography room about 7 years ago
3:36 Picture at the steinway store where I bought my steinway.  With Piano professor Steve English
3:44 with Matt Haimovitz (famous cellist) and Tammy
3:52 with Chee Yun (famous violinist) and Tammy (Dr. Wu, the plastic surgeon)
4:00 Chee Yun playing on my violin
4:08 with Chee Yun and Tammy (Dr. Wu - not that easy for me to say Dr. Wu when referring to her, but I'm getting better)
4:16 Charles and Cherrie's (they lent me their video camera which I'm still hogging - I need to give it back soon, because they have something new coming along in their lives) wedding.  I got to play violin briefly at their wedding.  They are the best friends one could have.
4:24 at some Bar.  I don't even drink.  Very very rare picture
4:32 template to place my piano after we had moved - I love hard wood floors.
4:39 Piano at my old house.  I took this picture, emailed to Steinway guys, and they use it on their computers as their background picture - I went to the piano store recently and saw it on their computer screen background.
4:47 My violin gets to meet the new piano
4:55 Yan Yan Chan (my piano teacher) playing on Horowitz's piano, me on the violin
5:04 my famous constipated look while playing violin
5:12 close up of the famous constipated look
5:20 Surgeon me at SSH
5:28 Surgeon (me) waving good bye after a case at Doctors Medical Center, Modesto

More about what I do professionally:


The transmission of information from Dr. Calvin Lee's and Dr. Tammy Wu's websites such as www.risingpianofire.com is not intended to create, nor does it create, a physician-patient relationship between you and Dr. Calvin Lee and/or Dr. Tammy Wu.  You are welcome to become a patient in our plastic surgery, vein, and acupuncture oriented office - please start by making an appointment (209-551-1888)

More about our office

Updates to my web pages / what I'm up to

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Note, this is not the mailing list for voting on the winner of the YouTube piano contest.  For that guest book, go to http://www.cliburn.org  Thank you!!!

Modesto Baccus, Bachus, Bacchus