Paul Kelner hat do you get when you cross music and medicine? You get a unique blend of Paul Kelner’s talents. Kelner, a Beachwood High School class of ‘78 graduate, has been playing the piano since 8 years of age. At the age of 13, he and fellow classmates Marc Cohn and Todd Pressman started a band called Doanbrook Hotel. “We used to write music in the basement of Beachwood High School and play local gigs around town,” Kelner said. Like most beginning piano players, he was introduced to classical music and theory. Fortunately, his piano teacher, Dr. Benjamin Austin, also encouraged his creativity and interest in improvisation. “I was so blessed to have had Benjamin Austin as a piano teacher for 10 years,” Kelner told us. “He looked, talked and played just like Duke Ellington. He was so smooth. He could play Beethoven one minute, and morph into Satin Doll the next.” “Looking back, if I had a more conservative teacher, I doubt whether I would have stuck with it,” Kelner added. “Music is such a core part of who I am; I can’t imagine my life without it.” Kelner paused, then added, “Like everyone else, I have had my share of challenges; and for as long as I can remember, music has consistently provided a refuge in the midst of the storm.” After high school graduation, Kelner headed to The Ohio State University for its pre-med program. Within a few months, he found many opportunities to play. Towards the end of his freshman year, Kelner answered an ad posted at the local music store by a band looking for a keyboard player. “Although I didn’t know it at the time, the band was composed of seasoned veterans from the Columbus music scene, most of whom were 10 years older then I was. Next thing I knew, academics were put on the back burner (with Sharing His Passions for Music and Medicine W my parents blessings) and for the next three years, I toured around the Midwest, playing rock and roll with the Vectors, hoping to make it big.” After three years of ups and downs, little money and even less sleep, Kelner had his wake-up call. “In late 1983, we opened for Donny Iris at the Cleveland Agora. It was a Friday night, the place was packed and it was definitely one of the highest points of our career,” Kelner said. “The next day, we were back in Columbus playing at one of our usual places for about 20 patrons. That’s when I recognized that I had had enough.” Kick-starting his academic career, Kelner went back to school, completing his family medicine residency in 1992. He told us about some ups and downs since then, saying his career to date has resembled an optical illusion or roller coaster. “Through all the hills and valleys,” he said, “I always had my music.” Now, Kelner’s path led him back to Beachwood, where it all started. “Music is my passion,” he said. “Whether I am performing, recording and/or teaching, I sense that I am doing what G-d intended me to do.” While teaching pathophysiology and pharmacology to nursing and medical students over the last several years, Kelner caught the teaching bug, discovering his knack for explaining difficult concepts in an accessible way. “I just love seeing the light bulb turn on in a student’s eyes,” he said. So in addition to performing and recording, Kelner is teaching jazz improvisation, songwriting and audio technology, taking him back to his roots with Dr. Benjamin Austin. Kelner also writes music for cancer patients or others who are fighting chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or depression. “Because of my medical background, I am able to visualize the disease and healing process in a unique fashion. Over the last several years, a host of controlled scientific studies and an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence have brought the so-called ‘mind-body’ connection to the forefront of mainstream medicine. Although people have understood the potential benefits associated with ‘imaging’ the body’s fight against disease for centuries, we now understand some of the underlying molecular mechanisms.” Kelner talks with his clients to learn about their condition, their history and their musical preferences. “While writing the music, I imagine painting a sonic image that captures the essence of the individual, the power of their surrounding support system and my own visual images of the disease, the immune system and other elements – as influenced by my career. The music provides comfort, peace and hope at times when there was little to be found.” When playing on his Korg Krome, Kelner has the ability to record music with the sound of an orchestra behind him. “What I’ve found is music breaks down barriers,” he said. “It’s powerful and goes beyond words.” When asked if his true passion is medicine or music, he said, “Both. At the edge of science and edge of spirituality, the two meet. Music is my prescription for success.” To hear some of Kelner’ works, visit paul-kelner/tracks. Photo by Scott Morrison. 14 Beachwood Buzz n November 2014