November 2018


Outside the OR
Meet iDox, a band with members across the U.S. and abroad

by Liz Hillman EyeWorld Senior Staff Writer

iDox is not only made up of ocular surgeons; other professions of its members include space engineer, investment banker, and air traffic control programmer.

iDox members live all over the world but get together the day before a performance to rehearse.
Source (all): iDox


The phrase “the show must go on” could not apply more to the band iDox.
Canceled flights, noise complaints from neighbors, a sewage backup, rehearsing in a partially constructed home, and more did not stop the musicians who hail from all over the country —and the world—from nailing their 15th annual iDox Rock concert, which benefits eye banking and donor awareness.
“Despite all the hardships, the performance was phenomenal,” said John Sheppard, MD, Virginia Eye Consultants, Norfolk, Virginia, keytar and vocals.
As its name implies, iDox is composed of several ophthalmologists, but it’s not limited to ocular surgeons. At its latest concert at the Experimental Film Virginia Premiere Screening Festival in Cape Charles, Virginia, on July 15, 2018, Dr. Sheppard, who played piano, said other professions included space engineer, investment banker, air traffic control programmer, and virologist. It also served as a 43-year reunion for Dr. Sheppard’s college band, which played together in the 1970s. Through the generosity of corporate donors, the benefit has raised $40,000 for organ donor awareness and eye banking in the past 2 years.
iDox was formed as “ARVO Rocks” more than a decade ago by Dr. Sheppard, Thomas John, MD, and Rick Foulkes, MD, when it began performing at a U.S. ophthalmology meeting before spinning off to independent gigs, such as serving as entertainment at Experimental Film Virginia.
With the band being somewhat fluid in membership, composed of newbies and stalwarts, hailing from Seattle, Houston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., New York, and Venice and Padua, Italy, how do they manage to play cohesively?
“We play [individually] all the time, so it’s not a question of knowing the music,” Dr. Sheppard said, explaining that they create a song list a couple of months before a concert. “Then we get together for a vigorous day of rehearsal the day before the performance.”
For their latest concert, rehearsal day was a bit dramatic. Dr. Sheppard said they had rented a house for rehearsal and even with all the windows closed, they had neighbors calling about noise. As such, Dr. Sheppard said they moved rehearsal to his daughter’s home, which is currently still being built. Later, when they returned to the rental home, they found that sewage had backed up and the water was shut off.
“There is always a lot to laugh about,” Dr. Sheppard said.
Parag Majmudar, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, who provided lead vocals and played guitar with the band for the first time this year, said the concert was incredible.
“These guys are amazing musicians on top of being amazing doctors. It’s so gratifying to see people who have other hobbies, interests, and talents outside of medicine,” Dr. Majmudar said.
“I thought it was an amazing experience for me to get to know these people and perform with them, and I hope I’ll be invited back,” he continued.
So how did Dr. Majmudar and Dr. Sheppard tap into their musical sides in the first place? For both, it started in their youth. Dr. Majmudar said he never had formal vocal training but he did take a few guitar lessons and continued to teach himself the instrument later in life. In general, he’s sang at small events and once had the opportunity to open for a Bollywood singer at a concert for 8,000 people in Chicago.
“I am used to performing in front of a big crowd and it didn’t faze me that much, but when you get out there and see how big that crowd is, I understand why people do it. It’s a euphoric feeling, an amazing adrenaline rush,” Dr. Majmudar said, adding that he understands how people get “hooked on performing.”
Dr. Sheppard, on the flip side, has a lot of formal training in his background, competing and performing at classical concerts by 9 years old.
“The discipline of playing classical music is far greater than one can possibly imagine. It’s a full-time job to do it justice,” he said, noting that he played classically through college and medical school but was in garage bands as well. “This freed me up to play a lot of great music with friends without practicing nearly as much as you have to for classical music.
Dr. Sheppard said one of the marks of a band’s success is having roadies, or someone who moves your equipment for you.
“[iDox] has not achieved that level of success and we have very challenging, rewarding professional lives, [which makes] getting the band together more frequently difficult,” he said. “Nevertheless, if a fantastic opportunity arises for each of us to donate 3 days of our time to raise an even greater amount of money for a noble cause like blindness prevention, eye research, or organ donation and eye banking, I think with advanced warning, we could put it together just about anywhere.”

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Meet iDox, a band with members across the U.S. and abroad Meet iDox, a band with members across the U.S. and abroad
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