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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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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Blessings Digi 2_05Do you select a “Word of the Year?” I do! For 2019, my word is blessings … I feel so blessed! Blessings abound in so many areas of life and in so many ways …

  • Basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
  • Social interactions (friends and wonderful support system)
  • Finances (abundance and prosperity)
  • Spirituality (powerful meditation practice connected to the Divine)
  • Physical (great health and cadre of holistic healthcare practitioners looking after my well-being)
  • Etc., etc., etc.

This is the beginning of a gratitude list … you may enjoy making your own, as it’s a fun exercise! As you write, you might also enjoy listening to a harp CD called “Blessings to You” for even greater inspiration! The other ritual that I started on January 1, 2019, is to remember one image right before I go to sleep each night that brought joy. What a lovely way to drift off to sleep.

So, here’s to your blessed life … happy 2019!


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Three Applications for Music

Licensing MusicI was recently reading an article and it talked about three applications for music:

  1. As “background” for an entire space/large area
  2. Customized for a specific place/area
  3. Individual listening.

I believe this is very applicable to the healthcare setting. For example, I see these three examples at Woodwinds Hospital where I volunteer:

  1. The piano by the fireplace is played almost every day over the lunch hour. This is an example of music in a large area. The pianist usually plays a variety of music to accommodate many different music tastes. It is common to hear visitors comment, “How wonderful it is to have live music every day!”
  2. An example of music in a specific place reminds me playing at several different nursing stations this past summer when the staff went through a stressful computer system conversion. This was customized music for each specific area.
  3. Playing live harp music for individual patients or giving a patient a PlayAway is an example of listening individually.

This same article mentioned research, “When healthy adults listened to 15 minutes of music they liked, their blood tests afterwards revealed higher levels of interlukin-1, a polypeptide hormone necessary to immunological reactions, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, both signs of stronger immunity.”

I believe this is rationale to be mindful about incorporating music as a healing modality in the healthcare setting in three different ways:  covering a large/open area, customizing for a specific location/purpose, and encouraging individual selections. What a goal for the Year 2015 and beyond!



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Dr. Jean Watson & Caring

I was introduced to Dr. Jean Watson’s work several years ago. She is a nurse researcher with a focused interest on caring. Dr. Watson is a national speaker and has conducted numerous research studies on this topic of caring in the healthcare environment.

In honor of Nurses Week, Dr. Watson will be speaking at Woodwinds Hospital/HealthEast Care System. I will have an opportunity to play at an opening reception for her on May 24, as well as do a one-hour presentation on May 25 during her visit to Woodbury, MN.  What an honor to be a part of this special time with a woman I admire so much!


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