Archive for Health care

Teaching Harp Therapy Lessons

Musical NotationI posted about harp therapy lessons a couple months ago. After playing at the hospital and hospice bedside for the past 24 years, I feel called to share what I have learned and experienced via these therapeutic harp lessons. It is my passion to teach harpists who want to learn more about playing the harp in the healthcare setting. These lessons can be preparatory to study in a certified harp therapy program or as a “stand alone” to begin offering harp therapy services.

I’m happy to share my first three students have completed the eight-week course. They were a joy to teach and each of them will do great work with the harp at the hospital and hospice bedside. I use the Zoom videoconferencing platform so I can work with anyone, anywhere in the world! In fact, my students were located in Minneapolis, Michigan and the Netherlands. If you are interested in learning more, let’s connect!


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Live vs. Recorded Music

Live MusicWhen I present, one of my most frequent questions is “Will recorded music be as good as/helpful as live music?”

Live music offers a personal touch and there’s no substitute for that! Further, live music will almost always be more potent because of the vibrations, the resonance of the instrument and the healing presence of the therapeutic musician.

That said, recorded music that is created with the intention to help in the healing process is much more therapeutic than the TV! Recorded music is also more practical – it has the possibility of reaching many more people for longer durations of time than live musicians.

If you are a hospital administrator, you probably want both live and recorded music in your healthcare setting. Certified harp practitioners playing live at the individual bedside and recorded CDs or licensed music on the closed-circuit TV system is well documented in research annuals as being helpful. Please feel free to contact us if you wish to discuss further.


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Additional Thoughts about Therapeutic Music in the Healthcare Environment

HealthcareThis will be our last blog post in this on-going series of discussing therapeutic music in the healthcare setting. I have a few thoughts or observations from doing this work since 1996 (yes, it’s really been that long!):

  • Sometimes I am not told much about the patient, the family and/or their situation. Even without information, I am amazed at the miracles that occur at the bedside with the harp. It is an intuitive process and unfolds as it is supposed to.
  • Not usually, but occasionally, patients refuse harp therapy. This is one thing patients are empowered to say yes or no. While patients can’t say “no” to a nurse, they are empowered to make a choice about music. If they say no, I never take it personally.
  • Patients, families and staff – all benefit from the musical bedside experience. Sometimes, the caregivers or staff need the music as much as anyone.

It has been our joy to share examples and stories over the past several weeks/months about this beautiful work that we are so passionate about. Please contact us if you’d like more information.


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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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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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Health Care System Alert!

AHMA LogoWe often hear the adage “The health care system is rapidly changing.” But what exactly does this mean?

Last week, I spoke and played the harp at the Mayo Clinic’s Holistic Wellness conference. And I had an opportunity to attend some of the sessions that addressed the health care shift. In the coming weeks on this blog, I’ll be discussing several highlights from this conference.

The first keynote presentation was by Bill Manahan, MD. He began with the expansive question, “How much of the body’s imbalance is connected to body/mind/emotions/spirit?” He suggested a broader, integrative approach is needed many times. And this is the transition that is occurring – evolving from the current medical model of disease care to truly managing health (not just disease).

Definitely “food for thought”…


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Getting Sleep in the Hospital … Really?!

My mom just had her second back surgery in 5 ½ months and both times she was hospitalized, she slept two hours during the night. The reason? Nurses laughing at their station and “yucking it up” in loud voices in the middle of the night, not closing her door with light streaming in … is this the best we can offer for helping patients sleep? Maybe  there needs to be a sign (like on hotel doors):  Shhhh! Sleep in progress.  Obviously, nurses need to check on patients and sometimes those interruptions wake up the patients, but we know sleep is so restorative and one of the key elements for healing. How can we do better?

My mom’s hospital experience has re-ignited my passion to bring peace and calm, relaxation and sleep to our healthcare system. It’s a big job (!) but someone has to do it … I am on it!!! I always feel like an important part of my work in hospitals is to help people relax and if they fall asleep while I play, I take that as the highest compliment. I know then that I’ve done my best work! Whether it’s playing live or getting my CDs onto the hospital’s closed-circuit TV system or getting the PlayAway into hospitals across the country, I’m on a mission!  Contact me if you want to help your healthcare system move to greater peace and healing. I look forward to connecting…


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An organization doing wonderful work–Global Health Ministries

I met the Office Manager of Global Health Ministries (GHM) last September when our exhibit tables were next to each other at a SE Lutheran Women’s Convocation. She asked me to play the harp yesterday for the 25th Anniversary Celebration of GHM. It was wonderful to be present with this dynamic organization and I learned about the history, as well as future plans. I also learned that I want to get involved as a volunteer!

For some time, I’ve been asking the Universe for an opportunity to combine my love of international relations, therapeutic music, travel, and healing into an organization or specific role to make a bigger impact. Well, as of yesterday, I may have found it! Global Health Ministries is an organization where love and compassion are channeled for the health and hope of people around the world. They do this by enhancing healthcare programs in other countries, specifically by shipping medical equipment and supplies to individuals/countries with the greatest need. I believe the GHM motto says it all: “Helping the Hands that Heal.” Click here for more information.


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