The harp has been used for centuries to produce soothing
music which brings peace, rest and healing to the mind,
body and spirit. The first mention of the therapeutic use
of the harp occurs in the Old Testament in 1 Samuel 16:14-23,
when a "skilled harper", namely David, was brought
to King Saul, who was in a restless and fearful state.
After David played his harp for the king, Saul fell into
a restful, healing sleep. There are many accounts of ancient
Irish harpers being able to induce sleep, relaxation and
healing of fevers and epileptic fits by playing certain
types of music on the harp. Today, a small group of harpists
are being trained to use the harp as a healing instrument
in clinical settings such as hospice, hospitals, and nursing
homes to induce relaxation and stress relief, normalization
of heart and breathing rates, enhancement of oxygen absorption
rates, normalization of blood pressure, and pain and anxiety
abatement. In the case of the hospice client, therapeutic
harp music has the ability to ease the transition through
the dying process. Therapeutic harp music also has beneficial
clinical applications in the chemotherapy process, easing
nausea, anxiety and other undesirable side effects.
What makes the harp special?
The harp is an instrument
with many unique qualities. The most outstanding is the
ability of the harp to produce a mellow, resonant tone
when a trained therapeutic harpist plucks a string, and
combines certain notes to form harmonies. This tone is
produced by the long string length and the shape and size
of the sound box, which is roughly equivalent to the size
and shape of the human torso. The mellow sound, coupled
with the unusual resonance of the sound box, produces the
beautiful "heart" sound of the harp which
affects the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of the
human being. On listening to harp music produced by a fine
instrument and skilled therapist, one is drawn into a state
of emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. For some
people, deep relaxation is experienced; for others, a lifting
of the spirit and morale occurs. Also, there are profound
effects on the physiological functions, such as normalization
of heart and breathing rates, normalization of blood pressure,
enhancement of oxygen absorption, pain, nausea, and anxiety
abatement and stimulation of mental faculties.
What is therapeutic harp music?
Therapeutic harp music is played on a full-range instrument
by a trained therapist. This music produces, among other
benefits, relaxation, peace of mind and spirit, harmony
of body and spirit, emotional release, physiological benefits,
and spiritual uplifting and encouragement. All these things
enhance the healing process for hospital and clinical patients
and ease the process of transition for hospice clients.
How can therapeutic harp music help the health care professional?
Therapeutic harp music has profound benefits for patients
with cardiac and lung disease, as well as patients undergoing
chemotherapy and psychotherapy. Drugs play an important
role in healing in modern medicine; however, certain drugs
have undesirable side effects. For example, the use of
Valium and certain sleep aids have led to addiction and
dependence in its users. The use of morphine in the hospice
setting has had great therapeutic value; however, side
effects including constipation and disorientation have
their drawbacks. Therapeutic harp music is non-addictive
and has no harmful side effects and is a valuable adjunct
therapy with drug therapy. The use of therapeutic harp
music as a mood lifter has direct beneficial use for the
depressed patient, and a hospice patient on a large dosage
of morphine may be able to lower the dosage when therapeutic
harp music is used, so that the patient is more alert and
has more quality time with loved ones. Patients with lung
disease respond to therapeutic harp music with enhanced
oxygen absorption levels, easing anxiety and breathing.
How can I arrange for therapeutic harp music?
A certified therapeutic harpist may be contacted by calling
Joanna Mell at 951-547-4022 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member of The Order of St. Luke The Physician