Archive for Harp

Grief in the Hospital and Music’s Role

Music and griefGrief can be a common emotion in the hospital setting. What role does music play? Read on …

Before I entered the patient’s room with my harp, I was told the mother (patient) and daughter (caregiver in the room) were grieving. One of the first things they said to me was they lost a son/brother four months ago. I’m not sure what the mother’s physical illness was (the reason she was hospitalized) but I had the sense that whatever it was was completely predicated by grief and sadness. There was a heaviness, a deep sorrow prevalent in their room.

I used the musical principle of Inclusive Attention. (Inclusive Attention is the art of being attentive to the patient and modifying the music to accommodate for the mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual state. It is asking, “What is meeting me here? What am I observing? How do I need to respond?” The heaviness of grief, mourning, and intense sadness is appropriately met with music that is sad, melancholic, and minor. This is contrary to what many people think, but by meeting grief with sad, melancholic music, you acknowledge and honor the patient’s condition or situation and give him or her permission to feel and release the feelings.)

I played music that was quite somber for this mother and daughter. As tears flowed and the feelings of grief and mourning began to lift slightly, it was appropriate to transition the music very slowly from minor keys into major keys. The mood and the music shifted, ebbing and flowing between minor and major. (This is a sub-conscious way of demonstrating that it is vital to feel/express sorrow and dark feelings, as well as OK to feel hope and lightness, sometimes within seconds/minutes of each other … all a natural part of the grieving process.)

I ended our harp therapy session with Amazing Grace which felt like an important connection for them, as well as connecting with their transitioned loved one. While I was playing, I also had the feeling that this mother’s son was hovering above her shoulders and crown chakra. I mentioned this to the mother as I left and she hugged me saying, “This gives me so much comfort. Thank you…”

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Playing the Harp in the Hallway of the Hospital

Hospital corridorI play the harp in patients’ rooms, but also in the hospital corridors or hallways.

Staff who do such important work (housekeeping, unit secretaries, nurse managers, etc.) may not be thanked for their contributions and they need the music as much as anyone. When I play in the hallways or at a nursing station, these hard-working employees can pause for a moment to “fill their wells.”

Playing in these locations, I see very busy healthcare staff and stressed family members stopping for a moment to connect with their breath, lower their shoulders to release tension and just be. Many comment that they have never heard the harp or never seen it played up close and in person. Having it on the hospital floor offers a personal touch and a gentle reminder of self-care.

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Music for Caregivers, too

CaregivingThe following story highlights how music can benefit the caregiver, as much as the patient.

Right before I entered the hospital room with my harp, the patient and her spouse had just had a discussion of “no code” status.

The husband (caregiver) was sitting at his wife’s shoulder and I set up my harp right next to him so I could see both the patient and him.  At times, I felt like I was playing as much to him as I was for his wife … he “drank in” the music!

At one point, the patient turned to her husband and their eyes locked. Within these few moments of deep connection, they expressed a lifetime. It was beautiful to witness, as well as facilitate with this paradoxical instrument that is so gentle, yet so powerful.

As I was leaving, the husband said, “Thank you! I believe I enjoyed the music as much, and maybe more than my wife!”

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Music and Emotions

music and emotionsMusic connects us to our emotions, and can be a way to process and release feelings to help with our healing journey. This is an example.

Before I entered the next patient’s room, two nurses came up and said, “This patient wants to die … he feels hopeless.” I started by playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which is a song of hope. And then, as I played for him, I was very aware of using entrainment (playing slower and s-l-o-w-e-r) so he could rest, sleep (similar to how the CD “Calm as the Night” is created).

As I finished and was moving my harp out of the room, he gently rolled over and quietly said, “I now know I’m going to be just fine.”

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Therapeutic Music in the Healthcare Setting

healthcare environmentTherapeutic music in the healthcare setting can be helpful for both the patient and healthcare provider, as this example shows.

As I entered the patient’s room, her doctor was leaving. I asked the physician if she’d like to come in/observe while I provided harp therapy. She said “Yes!” As soon as I started playing, the doctor visibly relaxed and sunk deep into her chair.

The patient cupped her face during much of the time that I was playing the harp for her. At the end, I explained the term anchoring to her. This is holding the feeling of peace with the bodily memory (ie. cupping her face). For example, if she wants to feel the same peace that she felt after the musical experience, she can cup her face in the same way as when the music was playing and take a couple of breaths. She will bring back the peaceful feeling because her body is anchored to it.

As I was leaving, she said, “I will give that a try!”

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Harp therapy in action

harp therapyContinuing to share several unique harp-in-the-hospital stories …

This female patient was very alert, communicative and engaged. I played familiar music for her (Edelweiss, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Brahm’s Lullaby, Pachelbel’s Canon, Ode to Joy, All Through the Night, etc.). I finished our time together by playing a less recognizable song called Hear Thy Children, Gentlest Mother (on the “Dreaming” CD). I mentioned the song name and that song really seemed to resonate with her. The patient said, “I have seven children and they had been telling me something was wrong with my lungs and I needed to see a doctor. Now here I am … and I’m amazed that you chose that song for me with a perfect title. I’d never heard it before, but it was exactly what I needed on my journey at this moment.”

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Playing the harp at the hospital and hospice bedside

music jokeOne of my passions is to play the harp at the hospital and hospice bedside. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing a variety of experiences I’ve had. This will give you an idea of the power and potency of this work!

Before I walked in to this female patient’s room, I was told she was very agitated the day before. By the time I played for her, she was heavily medicated and very sedated.

While I played, she was very peaceful and sleepy. I had a sense that she was very sad and perhaps had some dementia. I played Amazing Grace and other familiar songs (which is helpful to demented patients because it brings them into the present moment and while they may not remember anything else, they may still hold music memory – melodies and/or words). The word that came to me as I was playing for her was “protection.” I had the feeling that she was very protected by many angels.

Sometimes, sleep is more difficult in the hospital environment, yet can be the most restorative/healing. That’s where the harp can work its magic … in fact, I always say I’ve done my best work if I put the patient to sleep!! I left her in a peaceful state and helped her drift off to sleep.

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Defining a Certified Harp Practitioner (CHP)

Many people have asked what is a Certified Harp Practitioner (CHP). Being a CHP is obviously something I’m very passionate about!

To receive this certification, I completed an approved therapeutic musician curricula with a focus on the harp from the International Harp Therapy Program (IHTP). I have also continued to keep my harp therapy practice current by attending the necessary courses to obtain Continuing Education Units (CEUs). hospital[1]This includes participation in conferences, workshops, lectures and webinars on a variety of approved topics relevant to the field of therapeutic music and musicianship. The approved Continuing Education activities have been the equivalent of 20 hours every two years, and directly relates to and enhances my work as a therapeutic harpist.

The combination of past educational study and current-day CEUs allow me to provide therapeutic music at the hospital and hospice bedside with great care and passion. I am available to play the harp for you or your loved one; if you wish to discuss my services, please contact me.

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Playing in my parents’ dining room

Harp at RPMy parents live in an independent living apartment in an assistant living building. I visit them 5-6 times per year. On each visit, I rent a harp and play in their dining room for dinner one evening while I’m there. To say the residents love it is a huge understatement!! It gives me so much joy to bring them joy!

Their main question is always, “When will you be back?!”  Enjoy … in joy …

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More on the BioAcoustic Mat

BioAcoustic MatAs sound healing increases in popularity, the public continues to be more informed and asks for sessions with a variety of instruments – harp, crystal bowls, gongs, Native American flutes, etc. Science is also catching up to share specific benefits of using music therapeutically and as a healing modality.

The BioMat’s parent company company (Richway International) recently introduced the BioAcoustic Mat (which we rep!). It is vibroacoustic therapy for natural relaxation and renewal via certain frequencies connecting to different areas in the body. It does this through a three specially-designed speaker system:

  1. A powerful transducer delivering low frequencies (30-68 Hz) for a deep, large muscle cellular massage.
  2. Two smaller speakers playing higher frequencies (52-88 Hz), targeting small muscle groups.

The BioAcoustic Mat’s sound system vibrates and stimulates the nerves in the spine, deep tissue and limbic systems, and affects brain activity to drive an emotional response of well-being. This combination of music and an elevated emotional state activates the auditory nerves that connects to all of our muscle tissue, helping to induce relaxation on a physiological level.

The music in the BioAcoustic Mat was created by Dr. Lee Bartel. Four categories (energize, relax, sleep and stress relief) and 12 therapeutic tracks allow you to address your personal needs. Tracks include digital instruments to soothing nature sounds and range from 3 to 6+ minutes.

Details of Targeted Benefits

The BioAcoustic Mat comes in two sizes:

  • Professional (fits on a massage table – $3,000 + $60 shipping)
  • Single (fits on a twin bed – $3,500 + $100 shipping).

For more information about either BioMats or the BioAcoustic Mat, contact us at tami@MusicalReflections.com.

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