News Column

With scalpels or 'axes,' he's dedicated to his craft

December 2, 2013

YellowBrix

Dec. 02--Small busts of composers line a shelf in Dr. John Tedesco's office at Green Country Medical Arts.

Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin are testimony to the discipline it takes to learn music as well as medicine.

"Music and surgery have a lot in common," said Tedesco, a cosmetic surgeon. "Both involve a lot of hand-eye coordination and dexterity."

As a youngster, however, Tedesco, 34, wasn't interested in either. He recalled all those piano lessons he had to take.

"I hated it," he recalled. "My dad was an accomplished musician. He started teaching me the basics when I was 3 years old."

Tedesco said his father also was an eye surgeon.

"I would bang around on the organ, and he would organize my banging," Tedesco said. "He'd show me the basics. 'This one (key) is C,' that sort of thing. Once I was a kid -- from age 6 to 16, I'd much rather be outside on my bike than taking piano lessons."

However, he stuck with it and eventually began enjoying music.

Tedesco also plays in a band, Paradox. The name is a pun because two doctors started the band, he said.

Sometimes mellow jazz quietly streams through Tedesco's office. His choice of music depends on his mood.

"Friday nights at a party, it's one type of music," he said. "In a quiet afternoon at the office, it's another type of music. I almost can't picture myself without music. It's that important."

Meet Dr. John Tedesco

AGE: 34.

HOMETOWN: Erie, Pa.

CAREER: Cosmetic surgeon at Green Country Surgical Arts.

EDUCATION: Gannon University, 2000. Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, 2004.

FAMILY: Parents, John and Stephanie Tedesco, Tampa, Fla. Brothers, Nicholas and Anthony.

HOBBIES: "I love the (Pittsburgh) Steelers. I love to golf. I love to hunt. I love camping and snow skiing."

Finding his way to

a medical career

Although he was a doctor's son, John Tedesco originally did not seek a medical career.

"I was an art major at Colorado College, but I was not really crazy about art class," he said. "However, as part of the core curriculum, I had to take biology class."

The class lab involved a lot of dissection and anatomy, he said.

"I had never once thought about it, and there was no way I would do it until I took that class," Tedesco said. "It changed my mind."

He recalled having trouble breaking the news to his father.

"He was realistic," Tedesco recalled. "He said: 'Don't go into it if you think you'll have an easy life. You have to go to medical school and residency.' He was not immediately encouraged about it."

Tedesco soon discovered his father was right.

"You really have to like it in order to make it there," he said. "There are extraordinary demands."

Tedesco originally sought to go into obstetrics and gynecology.

"I shadowed an ob/gyn as a medical student, and I didn't like it," he said. "I told Dad I was going to drop out of med school."

He said his father told him to stick to it.

Tedesco said a friend saw some of his drawings and suggested that he go into cosmetic surgery.

"I shadowed a cosmetic surgeon in Philadelphia and I felt it was something I was born to do," he said. "It's the perfect marriage of art and science. It allowed me to pursue both my passions."

Tedesco went on to do an internship at Suncoast Hospital in Largo, Fla. He also did a residency in general surgery at the hospital. He spent a year in a cosmetic surgery fellowship at English Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Center in Little Rock, Ark.

He now feels his career is right on track.

"There is a big need for what I do in this area," he said.

Music comes

together with friends

When Tedesco was 16, music went from being a chore to a choice.

His interest went from piano to guitar.

"I started to like it," he said. "I learned the guitar."

He and high school friends started a band.

"We played at all the pep rallies at school, just me and my buddies," he said.

He got involved with Paradox not long after he moved to Muskogee in 2012. He met anesthesiologist Dr. Tony Spatz.

"I was told he was a pretty good fiddle player," Tedesco said, adding that they "just started jamming."

Spatz' brother-in-law came in to play drums, he said.

"As time went on, we just started organizing it and inviting more people," he said. "Its current iteration was probably this spring. Various people come and go. It took a while to find a good bass player."

The current band consists of Tedesco on keyboards, guitar and some vocals; Spatz at fiddle, guitar and talk box (remember Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like I Do?"); Shawn Wooten at drums; Paul Ford at bass; Andy Sanchez at guitar and vocals and Lindsay Huddleston at lead vocals.

The band's first gig was a Fourth of July party at Tedesco's house. The second gig was a recent performance at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, part of the Third Thursday Concerts sponsored by the Papilion. The concerts had been set at the Papilion, a new attraction at Honor Heights Park featuring an event lawn, butterfly garden and artworks. Bad weather prompted the November concert to move to OMHOF, he said.

Tedesco said he has no big dreams for Paradox.

"We'll do mostly special events and fundraisers," he said. "We all have day jobs. We don't have time to play every year."

Climbing his

way to the top

For a while, Tedesco had a hobby that took him to new heights -- up to 20,322 feet, in fact.

"I used to be passionate about mountain climbing," he said.

He has climbed Alaska's Mount McKinley, now called Mount Denali, the highest peak in the United States. He also reached the top of 14,409-foot Mount Ranier in Washington state.

"I've done at least 50 different peaks over the years," he said. "I'd like to do Mount Everest someday."

His interest in peaks was piqued when he worked in an outdoors outfitter shop.

"It's good exercise," he said. "It's rewarding. You work real hard to get to the top, and it's very tranquil."

Tedesco said mountain climbing proved easier than he thought.

"I'm built for it perfectly," he said. "My lower body strength is real good. I have good endurance. Cold doesn't bother me. I enjoy the cold."

He said he prefers climbing in the winter.

"I like cold," he said. "I don't like the bugs. I don't like the mud."

He said that with the right equipment, freezing temperatures are "a non-issue."

"With snowshoes, you can float on the snow and with warm clothes you can brave the cold," he said.

A good tent and wind protection also makes a difference, he said.

"McKinley gets 60 degrees below zero, but in the tent, it's 40-plus," he said. "You build an igloo to break the wind and put a tent in the middle."

An igloo consists of 4-foot or 5-foot walls made out of blocks of snow, Tedesco said.

"You use a snow saw to cut blocks out of the snow."

He also wore layers of clothes.

"When you exercise like that, it's a lot of hard work," he said. "You need relatively little clothing. In the morning, when you're freezing, you bundle up."

Tedesco said he climbed his last peak in 2003.

After that, he said, "med school took over."

Q&A

HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?

"I had originally got a job in rural Arkansas. Then I got an offer from Muskogee. I visited Muskogee several times and really liked the people. It's close enough to Tulsa. I liked the need for my medical skills. I decided it was friendliest town I ever visited. With geography and weather, it's kind of middle of the road."

WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?

"The people. In the two days I had to visit here, I already made some lifelong friends."

WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?

"I would like to see downtown redevelop. Muskogee could be a good weekend community for Tulsans to come and shop."

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?

Cosmetic surgery, Green Country Medical Arts.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

"Music, golf, hunting."

WHAT OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?

"The guy who brought me here, Kevin Fowler, who was the CEO of the hospital at the time. Also, Jim Blair is someone I can look up to. He and I have very similar interests."

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?

"Starting my business, setting it up and running it. I have a nice home. My practice is coming along."

HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?

"Friendly, clean mid-sized town. Quiet but charming."

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