Posts Tagged harp therapy
Ever since I heard about the concept of “harp therapy,” I’ve been interested in the possibilities of using harp music in medical settings. My first experiment in this realm was on myself! When I went for outpatient surgery two years ago, I loaded my MP3 player with the gentle music of harpist Stella Benson and listened to it during all of the pre-op preparations. I was allowed to keep my headphones on until the last minute before I was wheeled into the OR. As soon as I was released to go home, I requested my MP3 player again. I listened all the way home and kept listening once I was settled in bed. The music made the whole experience much more tolerable.
Of course, there’s a world of difference between recorded music and a live performance. This is even more true when it comes to the harp, which has deeply affecting qualities that are nearly impossible to capture in a recording. With the cooperation of adventuresome medical professionals, harpists have brought their music into hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, maternity wards, in-vitro fertilization clinics … even operating rooms! Medical studies in this area are still in their early stages, but there are a number of reports about the positive effects of live harp music.
For a while now I’ve been wanting to try something like this with my own harp. Luckily for me, my dentist happens to be the open-minded and adventuresome type, and when circumstances provided an opportunity for me to play for some of his patients, he was willing to give it a try. So today, my Merlin harp and I paid a visit to his office in Fort Worth.
The office has a series of exam areas that are separated by dividing walls but not entirely isolated from one another. I was allowed to set up in an unoccupied exam area where I would be out of everyone’s way, yet could still be heard by the patients. When the drilling began in the room next door, I started playing through my repertoire of soothing tunes.
Not being able to see my audience was weird. I never realized how much I pay attention to small cues from my listeners to know how I’m doing, so this was a revelatory experience. It was like being stuck in a feedback vacuum! By the time I was finished, I had no idea how I’d done or if my playing had been appreciated. I was concerned I’d just been some quirky visitor at best, or an unwanted distraction at worst.
It was a relief when I finally did receive feedback. To my delight, it was all good! The office staff told me that all of the patients had enjoyed the music and found it relaxing and peaceful. One patient asked if this was something new the dentist was planning to do on a regular basis. Another woman said she was horribly stressed out when she came into the office for her appointment, but by the time she left, her stress was gone! When was the last time you heard someone say that about their visit to the dentist?
So, Merlin and I had a satisfying afternoon, adding a dash of unexpected beauty to a few people’s lives and busting some stress in the process. I think I could get used to this!