My clients often expect me to turn up with a large harp, the sort of harp you see in an orchestra, they are often wondering how I’m going to get it in the building, and they are surprised when I arrive with my small therapy harps. Many people have not seen this type of harp before.
Therapy harps are very different to the orchestral harp. The concert harps have seven pedals around the bottom that are used to change the key so players need very good hand and foot co-ordination. It means they have more scope to play tunes in different keys, but they’re not practical for my type of work.
The therapy harp has been around since the 1970s, and is basically a small harp, and can be called a small harp or a lap harp or a therapy harp, it’s basically the same thing. Some of them have levers at the top which enables the player to change the key.
The therapy harp is light weight and can be worn with a strap which enables the harp to be played while walking around, which is perfect for bringing music to people in a large lounge especially if they may have visual or hearing impairments.
A colleague in the therapeutic harp community from America plays using a strap and walks around hospital corridors allowing the live harp music to float into many rooms and nursing stations, bringing the music to more people. The music changes the atmosphere and can bring a bit of release to patients and loved ones dealing with hospital admission and treatment.
Such light weight harps can be played in bed, in wheelchairs and on the floor, so they are really accessible and the way of playing can be adapted to meet the clients physical abilities. Playing the harp on the floor works really well with young children, and playing in bed is great for anyone that is unable to get out of bed.
These harps are ideal for harp circles too, where a group of people create music together. I have a choice of straps and knee sticks to stabilise the harp, so players in my harp circles can choose how they would like to position the harp in the way that is most comfortable for them.
The harp rests on the shoulder and is either supported by the strap of the knee stick, it’s light and allows the player to easily reach all the notes on the harp.
Harp circles are inclusive, they enable participants to be able to do one little part and be part of a whole group making music. They are uplifting, enjoyable and accessible allowing everyone to take part in some way regardless of challenges or ability.
Harp playing can relax, energise and sooth and can contribute to healing for the youngest of children to the oldest of adults. Music releases emotional pain, increases interaction, builds self esteem, improves short term memory and attention span, and relieves stress.
Harp circles allow people to enjoy making music, there is no right or wrong way, and we are all musical, there is no wrong note. Harp circles can incorporate different goals, somebody who has just had a stroke and is able to get their hand to the harp and play a note has achieved. Somebody who has a brain injury and is able to concentrate and take part in the group is successful.
Everybody has different goals and outcomes, but everybody plays a little bit and we create a whole tune together.
Please get in touch to discuss your clients’ requirements.