More on Being a Certified Harp Practitioner

harp therapy1In this blog post, we will share the “Scope of Practice” for being a Certified Harp Practitioner.

A Certified Harp Practitioner’s practice is to use the intrinsic healing elements of live harp music to provide an environment conducive to the human healing process. (Healing is defined as movement toward mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wholeness.)

Requirements in the following categories are required to be a Certified Harp Practitioner:

  1. Musicianship
  • Demonstrates/applies knowledge of basic music theory and techniques.
  • Improvises and plays music in a fluid, musical fashion.
  • Plays appropriate repertoire.
  • Is sensitive to the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient.
  1. Professionalism
  • Uses appropriate interpersonal skills, etiquette, and legal, ethical and moral judgment, when interacting with patients, families and hospital/hospice staff; adheres to a strict Code of Ethics. (Stay tuned for our next blog post.)
  • Presents a positive, mature and professional image in manners, communication and dress.
  • Respects diversity of cultural traditions, values and musical preferences.
  • Demonstrates a responsible attitude about personal identification, documentation, scheduling, infection control, hospital equipment and privacy.
  • Focuses on the welfare of the patient above all else in a compassionate and non-judgmental manner.
  • Works within the determined scope of practice of therapeutic musicians; seeks appropriate assistance when needed.
  • Engages in appropriate self-care and continuing education.

If you are interested in learning more or wish to have me play at the hospital or hospice bedside for you or your loved one, please contact me.

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Standing Ovation!

2017 HBB ConferenceI keynoted at the Healing Beyond Borders’ (HBB) international conference in August 2017. Their conference theme was “The Next Harmonic.” When I learned of this theme, I immediately thought, “They definitely need the harp for any discussion about harmonics … without any doubt, this is in my wheelhouse!!”

The harp is one of, if not the most, harmonic instruments. It is because the strings are “open,” with one pitch activating or ringing frequencies in the upper and lower octaves of the instrument. These harmonics or overtones are immediate as the sound board “kicks out” the vibrations to the listener. Paradoxical in nature, the harp’s harmonics are so gentle, soothing and comforting, but also very powerful, healing and spiritual.

From a historical perspective, harmonics were used in medieval and renaissance music. Until 1820, musicians learned about harmony, chord structure, inversions, modulations and progressions. It is likely that they listened closely to each other, played intuitively and followed the musical flow. Then, in 1820, music shifted as classical composers (Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg, Liszt, etc.) began writing music note-for-note, exactly as they wanted it played. Melody lines overtook the harmonic structure. And now, the HBB conference theme would suggest we are moving into whatever is next at a harmonic level to help the world evolve and elevate to a higher level of consciousness.

I believe this theme and experiential presentation resonated with the audience because they gave a standing ovation! I have had a few standing ovations in my speaking career, but this one felt extra special. Perhaps it was because it was also my birthday and it felt so honoring!!

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Well-Being and the Harp – Part I

Well BeingLet us explain! The four areas of well-being are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. In the next four blog posts, we are going to write about how one of each of these well-being areas relates to the harp. First, we’ll explore physical well-being.

An old mindset of yesteryear is it’s OK for musicians to “trash” their bodies. Where does this come from? While we aren’t sure of the origins of this old belief, we know this isn’t true today, especially with harpists. As a group, we spend a lot of time understanding the physical nature of both the instrument and the player’s body. Perhaps it is because the harp is a very physical instrument – both our posture and holding our arms up for extended periods of time, not to mention carrying it around!

A few other important points:

  • The main center of the body is the pelvis; important to ground and relax the pelvic/hip area.
  • The back “drives” the body.
  • Opening the chest helps us to relax and let the energy flow
  • Everything falls forward – our head, shoulders, hips, etc. and this “throws out” the back.
  • A gentle exercise is to move the shoulder blades in and down. This opens the heart and the heart meets the harp at the thymus, which is the organ of the immune system.

And a couple other things to remember about the harp:

Breathing is vital. Unlike a woodwinds or brass instrument, we don’t actually have to breathe while playing the harp. Breathing contributes to the overall health of the player/performer and it nurtures, sustains, cleans out our bodies and opens the chest. Breathing also helps with anxiety. We may have a habit of holding our breath or not breathing deeply. It can be helpful to breathe oxygen into our fingertips, even visualizing our fingers are breathing.

And finally, while the harp is all about helping people get rid of tension, the harpist must focus on this within themselves to help others.

  • If we hold our breath, we create tension in our bodies (another reason it’s important to breathe!!).
  • When the performers’ tension and the strings’ tension are released, we are one and heart-centered, giving to our audience/client/patient.

So, yes the harp is a very physical instrument and taking care of our physical health is vital to our long-term thriving with this magical instrument. Next blog post will be about emotional well-being.

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