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Why I Play  

Patti Hood 

I want to write a few words about Harp Therapy and why I am doing this now. 

Nine years ago a dear friend of mine was at the Daniel Freeman Marina Hospital in the Recovery Unit.  Some time before he was there I gave him a tape of myself.  He always said that the only way he could relax and sleep when he couldn’t get drugs was to listen to my tape.  When he went into rehab he had the tape with him and listened to it often.

 I played there once a week for the patients until it closed.  I had many wonderful experiences playing for them.  It opened their hearts.  Many cried.

In 1996 a publication started called “The Harp Therapy Journal”.  I’ve subscribed since then and thought how wonderful it would be to help people through playing mymusic.  During the course of the years harpists have written about how much their playing has affected people.  Both harpists and Doctors have reported many times over the results of ease of anxiety, decrease of fear, easier breathing, ease of nausea, relief of pain, decreased agitation, and a speedier recovery.  They have also reported that live music is much more effective than recorded music. 

Why the harp instead of other instruments?  The harp has the purest tone, the largest pitch range and the widest range of sound.  It has the largest resonating chamber as well.  The human voice is also effective because one is able to project energy of intention during singing. 

The following is an excerpt from an article in “The Harp Therapy Journal” by Dr. Stanley Terman, Ph.D., M.D.  “The fingers pluck with varying degrees of intensity.  Harps are unique in that their notes have the longest sustain phase of any instrument.  Unlike the dampened strings of a piano, every harp string is free to vibrate.  As the plucked string vibrates, it summons other strings to resonate with its harmonics.  Then, those other strings produce harmonics of their own.  The overall result is an initial sound very close to a pure sine wave, which slowly changes to a very complicated set of harmonics.  The emotional impact from hearing these harmonics change is profound: the harp sounds resonate with both simpler and more complicated parts of our core being.

In addition to hearing, our bodies respond profoundly to the vibrations from harps.  It is not surprising that the glissando – the sliding up and down over many strings that is another unique capability of the harp – has such a all-encompassing effect on the body.”