Therapeutic harp music has been around for ages--since Ancient Greece, Biblical, and Renaissance times. Most recently, therapeutic music has been reintroduced back into modern healthcare and treatment centers. Many benefits of harp therapy include lowered blood pressure, reduced stress, an overall calming, peaceful effect; it can help bring one to a meditative, reflective state.
Live therapeutic music can follow breathing pace, resonate with someone's voice or tone, acknowledge if pain is present and gently help one to be temporarily distracted or cope with any discomfort. It is truly a customized, catered experience which the individual can benefit from. For example, a therapeutic harpist can easily change the mode of music (i.e. Dorian Mode) if a patient decides to spontaneously get up from a wheelchair or walk around. It is a specific mode of playing to help a patient feel more grounded.
Music exists as a healing modality tool, but healing happens when the person opens themselves up to what the music offers them. Music is a gift to be used or to not be used. It is up to that individual. Therapeutic musicians hold intention while playing, the intention is usually to "let the music reach those that want to let it in" and for "general health and well being". As harp practitioners, we are taught to ask, "What is willing to meet me?" and to keep an open mind.
Many programs now exist that certify musicians to play for patients therapeutically by the bedside, in their rooms, at their homes, in centers and hospitals, and even for pets! Resources have been listed below:
IHTP (International Harp Therapy Program)
VAHT (Vibroacoustic Harp Therapy Training)
NSBTM (National Standards Board for Therapeutic Musicians)
"Harp therapy is not entertainment or atmospheric music. It's not a bedside concert. In the giving of our full attention and presence to each patient, we assess breathing patterns, looking for signs of tension in the body and on the face." - Sarah Schwartz, CTHP via "Cradle of Sound" by Christina Tourin.
"Harp therapy is being on the edge with the patient, at that moment, at that place in time and being fully focused on the patient and their needs. Acting according to your gut instinct's encouragement, listening with an ear open to spirit. Giving this person all the respect any human being should have and allowing yourself the trust to do the best you can. Having no agenda, being flexible, watchful and careful is only the beginning of harp therapy". - Bambi Niles via "Cradle of Sound" by Christina Tourin.