What is a therapeutic harp?
It is a small harp, usually between 22 and 27 strings that is portable, light and can be carried up close to a client to support the recipient’s goal of healing. This goal may be emotional, physical, mental or spiritual in nature.
The Harp As A Therapeutic Instrument
Historically, the harp has been a symbol of relief and comfort. The soothing sounds of the harp not only can enhance the quality of life, but create the possibility of interactive work in which the recipient might be invited to play the harp along with the harp musician. Interactive work, touching and even learning to play the harp, increases the recipient’s physical coordination and concentration. The benefit of a shared activity can also be important.
At the same time, the therapeutic Harp musician will aim to incorporate a type of music that the client enjoys listening to, be it classical, hymn, popular, eastern or western ‘oldies’, ethnic, Celtic (folk), opera, patriotic, children, or music from other genres.
Other Benefits of the Harp as a Therapeutic Instrument
ln the Corporate structure, harps have been utilized as part of a stress management programme. The results are a “time out” refreshment and centering for employees. lncreased concentration and motivation have been reported. This is also true for care-givers in hospitals, hospices and healthcare facilities.
For people in Intensive Care Units and in Operating Rooms, monitors show that the heart rate decreases and the Oxygenation levels increase when soothing harp music is played.
People who suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia often access memory through songs from the past.
Overall, scientific studies since the 1940’s tend to show consistently that music used in a therapeutic setting has the effects of:
* Reducing pain and the need for painkilling drugs
* Stabilizing blood pressure, whether too low or too high
* Lifting depressed moods
* Slowing heart rate
* Relaxing muscular tension
* Soothing agitation, as in Dementia patients
* Reducing anxiety
* Allowing peaceful sleep
* Retrieving happy and comforting memories, even in persons with other kinds of severe memory loss
* Bringing joy into stressful or isolated settings
Clinical and personal experience with the specific effects of harp music clearly show that harpists can bring an enriched quality of life to persons with any painful, chronic, or deteriorating condition.
In many hospitals, homes, nursing homes, rehab centres across several continents, people are receiving therapeutic harp services and reporting the benefits.